The second-generation Hyundai i30 is set to bring the Korean manufacturer into an entirely new war zone, going head to head with the Europeans, particularly the Volkswagen Golf.
The world’s fifth largest manufacturer (as part of the Hyundai-Kia group) is no longer just benchmarking itself against the Japanese; it has embarked on much grander ambitions to go head to head with the Europeans on looks, feel, drivability and even brand desirability. For years Hyundai was seen as a ‘cheap’ brand that offered reasonably good cars at reasonable prices. Since the launch of the original i30 though, Hyundai has worked extensively to change its image and build up its brand value.
In 2000 the company initiated a quality management program that saw Hyundai focus heavily on improving quality and reliability. In that regard, it was benchmarking the Japanese. Like many Korean companies (and Japanese before them), Hyundai went through a phase where it was a “fast-follower”, which is a nicer way of saying it pretty much copied what the Japanese and Europeans were doing. Now, it’s has reached a stage where it has to innovate on its own.