The i30 can cope with most monster potholes without sending unpleasant thuds through the cabin but it’s pretty boring to drive and leans quite a lot on twisty roads
You can get the Hyundai i30 with four petrol and two diesel engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
Pick one of the two turbocharged petrols if you spend most time pottering around town. The 120hp 1.0-litre model will return around 40mpg (compared with Hyundai’s claimed 48.7mpg) while the turbocharged 140hp 1.4-litre model will manage around 35mpg in real-world conditions and has less trouble keeping up with fast-moving motorway traffic.
The only way you’ll remember driving the i30 is by never driving another car
If you’re a high-mileage driver you’ll want to consider one of the Hyundai’s 1.6-litre diesel engines. The 136hp model is actually a touch more efficient than the slightly weedier 110hp version – expect it to return around 60mpg compared with Hyundai’s claimed 70.6mpg – and will have no trouble cruising along at motorway speeds.
You can get both Hyundai i30 diesels and the most powerful petrol models with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox instead of the standard six-speed manual. It’s not a particularly cheap upgrade, but it’ll help give your left leg a rest on long journeys and in heavy traffic. It shifts smoothly at slow speeds and responds very quickly to the gearchange paddles you get in sporty N Line cars, too. As an added bonus, it doesn’t jerk at slow speeds like the comparable automatic gearbox you get in a VW Golf, so it’s slightly easier to park.
The Hyundai i30’s large windscreen and side windows give you a good view of the road ahead and its fairly slim pillars (where the doors meet the windscreen) don’t create any particularly large blind spots at junctions.
Unfortunately, the rear windscreen is rather small which can make parking a bit of a pain. It’s a good thing then that all but entry-level S models come with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera (the latter is particularly rare at this price). Pick a high-spec Premium or Premium SE model and you get front parking sensors, too.
Unfortunately, 1.4-litre turbocharged models come with a slightly jerky clutch pedal which can make them difficult to drive smoothly around town. It takes a little getting used to and may make your passengers feel like they’ve climbed on board with a learner driver.
On the motorway, though, any complaints they might have will be drowned out by the tyre roar that makes its way into the cabin – especially in the back.
Also more noticeable in the back seats is just how much the Hyundai i30 leans through tight corners and wallows over bumps. It probably won’t make your passengers car sick, but it’s certainly not as composed as a Vauxhall Astra or Ford Focus. Thankfully, its rather soft suspension means the i30 soaks up bumps and potholes around town rather well.
Sportier N Line cars come with stiffer suspension which makes them feel more composed in tight corners, but they aren’t quite as comfortable as the standard Hyundai i30 on rough roads as a result. The firmer suspension also highlights how much you have to turn the steering wheel before the front wheels start to respond in fast corners. If it’s a slightly sporty family hatchback you’re after, the more agile Ford Focus ST-Line is an option worth considering.
The Hyundai i30 received a very impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in the strict 2017 tests. Helping it score highly were its standard lane departure warning system, automatic emergency braking (a feature that’ll stop the car for you to help prevent a collision) and a system that can monitor your movements and warn if you’re close to falling asleep.
For even greater peace of mind, pick a Premium or Premium SE model. They come with blind-spot detection and rear-cross-traffic alert (to help prevent bumps and scrapes when you’re reversing out of parking spaces).