My local dealer had the introduction day of all-new PD i30 today. They had one (1.4 T-GDI 6MT Style) in the showroom, and another one (1.0 T-GDI 6MT Comfort with Navigation pack) for test driving. After waiting a bit for the previous test driver to return, I then got the key in my hand and was off for a half-hour drive.
The three-mug 1.0-liter chugged along with its distinctive purring sound, having enough power for casual driving, but felt completely dead under 1500 rpm. Although I didn't stall it, a fast biting clutch didn't make starting off too easy. Also when shifting to second gear at 20 km/h, it did that *umph.. wroom* hesitation typical in small turbo engines because of turbo lag after losing the pressure during shifting. Needs heavy foot and lots of rpm to avoid all that.
When I got to the highway, I was immediately disappointed of the steering. Although it was sort of accurate (reacting to very small wheel turning), didn't squirm on tracks of a worn road and went straight when carefully holding the wheel, it had a rubberband-like feel in it. By suddenly turning the wheel a bit more, the whole car sort of jumped sideways after a small delay. Just like those old smaller Japs (Corolla, Sunny, Civic etc.) which Bimmer/Audi/Merc fanboys at here never get tired of bashing them as "f***ing rice cups".
This was supposed to be better to drive than the GD, but my first impression was it's clearly worse. Even Finnish car magazines have given surprisingly good reviews for it. My thoughts were confirmed when I returned to my GD - different feel but much better - just changing direction instead of jumping with a delay! I hope the CRDi+DCT, with 100kg more weight on front, will be more stable. Bigger wheels with lower profile tyres would also likely cure this, but with the side effect of harsher ride and more noise.
EDIT: After some more thinking, that "jumping" felt like the anti-roll bar being not sturdy enough to keep the car stable in such turn.
The suspension felt slightly softer than in my GD, but was overall good. Despite not liking the steering, it was easy to unintentionally overspeed because the lack of sensation of speed in modern cars.
The tyre noise level was clearly lower than in my GD. Hmh, I should have checked what brand of tyres it had, because both steering and noise is significantly affected by them.
I can't give the thumbs up for the PD just now. I hope this doesn't sound like a childish rant, but it's way too easy to spot negative things from your potential next car, pointing how nicely this and that is done in your current car. I will continue driving my GD at least another year, so I have time to go test driving the CRDi+DCT later (hope some dealer will have one for demo), and it's anyway not carved to a stone that the i30 would be the only possible choice.