This group test sees them go up against each other, we’ll find out how practical they are, pricing and how their figures compare in terms of fuel economy.
Hyundai i30 - from £15,295
First up is the Hyundai i30 which having been refreshed for 2015 now looks even chunkier with a bold, dominating front grille, sweeping headlights and sloping roofline. Jump inside the car and Hyundai have kept it as stylish as the exterior with nice black gloss touches, soft-touch materials and comfortable seats.
There are a few engines to choose from for the i30 including a 1.4-litre 100PS and more powerful 1.6-litre 120PS petrol engine, a 1.6-litre CRDi Blue Drive diesel comes with 110PS and 136PS on the premium models and a plus point is CO2 emissions are as low as 94g/km and fuel economy is up to 78.4mpg, so expect running costs to be low.
The Hyundai i30 excels in the driving stakes, it’s well-balanced, agile and with precise, responsive steering, rivals have got a lot of competition from this hatchback.
The i30 is really roomy and four adults can fit in it very comfortable, boot space on the i30 is 378 litres and with rear folding seats that go flat it makes it very practical if you happen to be using it for loading large items and there is also under-floor storage.
Priced from £15,295 for the entry level S trim it comes with plenty of standard equipment including air conditioning, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth, 6 airbags, Hill-start assist control, Isofix child seat points and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The Hyundai i30 also comes with a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty and roadside assistance.
Peugeot 308 - from £15,495
The French offering is from Peugeot with the 308 which combines sporty, stylish design with practicality and the compact hatchback is certainly an impressive offering.
Now when the second generation got released a few years ago, what got people talking was Peugeot’s i-cockpit which is an impressive, yet simple cabin aimed at the driver. With an instrument display that is positioned a lot higher than normal, a smaller steering wheel and a 9.7-inch touchscreen which displays navigation, car information, entertainment and heating controls, the manufacturer has completely decluttered the interior.
Boot space is also impressive, it’s larger than the i30 at 420-litres and although seats can also be folded for greater room, rear space isn’t that great and tall adults won’t find it that comfortable.
The Peugeot 308 comes with a good selection of engines from the award-winning 1.2-litre PureTech 82PS three-cylinder petrol to the 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120PS that emits just 84g/km of CO2 so will cost nothing in road tax, like its rivals running costs will be very good.
Peugeot have engineered a car that is light, due in part to its new platform, has a good, comfortable ride and with the smaller steering wheel it offers plenty of feedback and feel, so surprisingly you can really put it through its paces and get in return a pleasurable, fun drive.
Costing from £15,495 for the Access specification standard equipment includes cruise control, air-conditioning, DAB radio, tinted rear windows, Bluetooth and LED daytime running lights.
The Peugeot 308 is also offered with their Just Add Fuel finance package which also gives you three years of insurance and servicing for free.
Does it have enough though to take the top spot from Nissan’s hatchback model?
Nissan Pulsar - from £13,995
Nissan released the Pulsar back in 2013 as it hadn’t really got a model in the competitive hatchback market anymore, the Qashqai was proving very successful as a five-door, but not everyone wanted a crossover.
It seems to have filled that gap in the market for them but looks-wise it falls behind the i30 and 308 as it doesn’t look modern enough and already rather dated. It has the now common front grille as seen on the Qashqai and X-Trail but it lacks the sporty looks the others have.
Nissan have put a lot of technology on the car like their Safety Shield system which includes blind spot and lane departure warning, moving object detection and forward emergency braking and also their Around View Monitor which gives you a bird’s eye view of the Pulsar when you’re attempting to park.
The Nissan Pulsar’s boot holds 385-litres but it’s in the rear of the car where it can boast best in class legroom at 692mm due to its long wheelbase. We found that although the rear seats can be folded for increased room, the deep boot means that the space isn’t fully flat.
There are three engines available, DIG-T 1.2-litre 115PS and 1.6-litre 190PS petrol variants and a 1.5-litre DCi 110PS diesel with fuel economy figures up to 78.5mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 94g/km so will be exempt from road tax.
Nissan have their Active Trace Control on the Pulsar which gives you plenty of traction when you’re accelerating out of bends, so you’ll feel fully in control, although it lacks the fun factor and ride comfort of the Peugeot 308.
The Nissan Pulsar starts from £13,995 with entry level equipment on the Visia that includes Bluetooth, cruise control, a 5-inch colour TFT screen, Stop/Start technology and Vehicle Dynamic Control.
Which is the best?
All three have their good qualities; the Hyundai i30 has a great driving experience, the Nissan Pulsar has lots of space for rear passengers, but the one to win it by a whisker is the Peugeot 308. Although it’s the more expensive of the three, it has an impressive looking cabin, stylish exterior design and their finance package is very appealing too.