£16,995 - £24,745 Price range
52 - 74 MPG
The Hyundai i30 is a family hatchback that rivals the agile Ford Focus, classy VW Golf and our current favourite small family hatchback – the brilliant Vauxhall Astra. Launched in 2017, the all-new model gets new looks, a revised interior, improved driving experience and extra equipment.
Sadly, the exterior styling still leans towards traditional and probably won’t gather as many looks from passers-by as, say, a Renault Megane – in truth it isn’t massively different to the Peugeot 308, but with an Audi-style grille tagged onto the front.
The changes inside a more stark, interior quality gets achingly close to the Volkswagen Golf – soft-touch plastics are used for the majority of the interior, plus buttons and switches operate with an oily-smooth action. Interior space is average in class, so you shouldn’t have any complaints in that regard.
You also won’t fuss about the engine range that seems to cover almost all buyers’ needs – there are two high-tech turbo petrols, plus a frugal diesel. Latterly the range will be joined by a fast petrol fitted to the new N performance model. Nearly all of them can be fitted with Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which is actually pretty decent.
Out on the road, little surprises about the i30 – aside from its superb refinement – and that should be fine for most people, but there are better cars for the keen driver in the class, particularly the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. Not-so-keen drivers will find the i30’s relaxed motorway abilities a good compensation.
Basic i30s are quite affordable but come with kit such as front and rear electric windows, air-con, Bluetooth and a height adjustable driver’s seat. For a moderate outlay, mid-range SE Nav models add an infotainment system with an eight-inch screen and sat-nav, auto city braking and adaptive cruise control.
All i30’s come with a infotainment screen that is used to control the majority of the car’s secondary systems, which has allowed Hyundai to cut down on conventional buttons and give the i30 a clean, minimalist design.
The construction might not be quite up to matching the VW Golf, but the i30 gets very close. Almost all the plastics feel high quality – only a swath of hard plastic on the lower portion of the dash lets the side down. Thought has also gone into ensuring that lidded cubbies have smooth, well-damped actions and are, bar the door pockets, lined in rubber or felt.
Hyundai i30 infotainment
Basic models come with a multi-function display for the centre console, but you need to spec up to SE Nav trim in order to get the full-fat eight-inch infotainment screen.
Go for it and you not only get 3D sat-nav maps, but also a seven-month subscription to Hyundai’s connected services – allowing for live traffic alerts and looking up nearby points of interest. The speed of operation and graphics aren’t on the level of Audi’s system but that’s reflected in the price of the Hyundai.
Hyundai i30 passenger space
Space in the back of the i30 is decent – if not as mind-bendingly impressive as in the Skoda Octavia – headroom is good for six-foot adults and there plenty of kneeroom, too. Up front, all models come with a height adjustable driver’s seat that means no matter how tall or small you are, getting a comfortable driving position should be easy.
An optional panoramic sunroof can be specced to give a light, airy feel to the cabin. Cloth and leather seats are available in various colour combinations and patterns.
Hyundai i30 boot space
The i30 boasts a 395-litre boot, larger than the segment yardstick Volkswagen Golf with its 380-litre load bay. A handy false boot floor makes loading easy and is standard along with 60:40 split-folding rear seats that open up 1,301 litres of space once folded.
Hyundai i30 storage space
The i30 has no problems swallowing all the nicks nacks that come with a small family with most storage areas lined with felt to stop things rattling about.
All of the storage areas, including the glovebox, are decent in size and there’s a nifty place at the bottom of the centre console to put your phone (and replenish it, if your device supports inductive charging).
Despite the Korean origins of the brand, the i30 is a completely European car – designed in Germany, built in Croatia and tested all across the continent.
And after a few miles down the road it really shows. The ride is on the firmer side à la Audi, but settles down nicely on the motorway. The whole body is stiffened and uses new types of high-strength steel to make it lighter and tougher than ever before.
And places don’t get much tougher than the Nurburgring race circuit in Germany, which is where the i30’s new multi-link rear suspension was setup to be surefooted, predictable and easy to drive.
That’s great for 99% of buyers, but some will prefer the sportier-feeling steering fitted to the Ford Focus, which is reassuringly weighty and provides better feedback than the Hyundai’s. And even people who aren’t looking for driving thrills will find the steering in the i30 a bit annoying. Yes, it’s very light so you can maneuver easily in carparks, but on the motorway you constantly need to make small changes to keep the car going straight.
That’s less of a problem if you go for the mid-spec SE models which come with Lane Keep Assist that gently nudges the steering wheel and makes for relaxing motorway progress.
Another standard safety system on mid-range models is adaptive cruise control that can be set to, and match, the speed of car in front at 6mph and above. But wait, there’s more: the mid-range i30 also comes with blind-spot detection and a forward-collision-warning system, making it a very safe car, provided you go for the right spec.
There is a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, but a new 1.4-litre T-GDI turbo petrol grabs the biggest headlines.
It’s quicker and more fuel efficient than the outgoing non-turbocharged unit and is 14kgs lighter to boot. On paper, performance is pretty impressive – 0-62mph takes 8.9 seconds and if you’re very careful you can get fuel economy of up to 52mpg. It can be partnered with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
If you’re not bothered about performance, the three-cylinder, 120hp turbocharged 1.0-litre is the cheapest petrol to run in the range, with a combined fuel economy figure of 56mpg when mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It gets from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds and is a match for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost that’s fitted to the Ford Focus..
If you really want to rein costs only diesel power will do, and Hyundai’s now-established 1.6-litre engine will help you do just that. With a 110hp, it is available with either manual or an optional automatic ‘box and can return up to 74mpg. Laterally, the range is set to be joined by a 90 and 136hp version of the same engine.
This is a very difficult class that the i30 is trying to succeed in, and buyers are spoiled by choice. Want something sporty? Get a Ford Focus. Want something classy? Get a VW Golf. Want something good-looking? Get a Renault Megane. Want a combination of all of those at a reasonable price and with a bigger boot? Get a Skoda Octavia.
So you see, the i30 is kind of like a modern Nokia smartphone – you know it exists and it has roughly the same features as its rivals, but it’s not the first thing that comes to mind if you’re in the market for a new family hatchback.