Hyundai is on course to challenge even the most established car makers – is the facelifted i30 the new family hatchback to beat?
Sign up to our newsletter
Get notified on the latest car news, reviews and videos
Hyundai used to play second fiddle to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus but thanks to massive investment in research and development, its products are getting perilously close to toppling the established class leaders.
The i30 has been put under the surgeon’s knife for 2015 and comes out fighting with a new automatic gearbox and turbocharged range-topping engine. Like its rivals, it comes with a comprehensive range of options and engines to suit most tastes.
Hyundai i30 – engines
Five engine choices make up the i30 range – two diesel and three petrol. The two 1.6-litre diesels are expected to make up the majority of sales in the UK and come in 108 and 134hp guises. The more powerful diesel is only available in range-topping Premium trim priced from £22,295, a whole £5,100 more than the most basic 108hp diesel.
For those with one eye on their tax bills, the lesser 108hp diesel emits just 94g/km of CO2 meaning it falls into the lowest band for road tax. The more powerful diesel is only one group higher, however, so neither will cost you too much to tax.
The petrol range starts with a 99hp 1.4-litre exclusive to the hatchback which, in basic S trim, costs just £15,195. If that sounds a bit weedy then move up to the 1.6-litre petrol with 118hp for £17,895 – this unit gets the automatic gearbox as standard on all but Premium trims. The 1.6 is the basic petrol offered with the larger Tourer estate.
Drivers less concerned with changing their own gears would be well served by Hyundai’s new seven-speed automatic gearbox. A twin-clutch model, like Volkswagen’s DSG units, the new gearbox promises to provide even better acceleration and improved efficiency thanks to more gear ratios and faster shift times. It adds £1,300 to the price.
Although the i30 is unlikely to be an obvious choice for performance enthusiasts, the new model gets a range-topping turbo variant. Using the same 1.6-litre petrol but breathing through a turbocharger, the unit puts out 183hp and catapults the i30 from rest to 60mph in just eight seconds. Nowhere near enough to worry the VW Golf GTI but fast enough to make it fun to drive. The turbo is the only i30 available in three-door form and costs from £22,495.
Hyundai i30 – specifications
The specification choices are split into four simple grades from S to Premium. Basic S models get Bluetooth, keyless entry, air conditioning, front fog lamps and USB and AUX input for the stereo. This trim costs £15,195 for the 1.4-litre hatch and £16,895 for the 1.6-litre estate.
SE trim adds £1,300 to the purchase price but is well worth it because you get alloy wheels, cruise control, driver lumbar support, leather coverings for the steering wheel and gear knob, and rear parking sensors.
We’d suggest upgrading from SE to SE Nav which, unsurprisingly, adds sat-nav to the list of kit. This is a valuable option, however, because it also brings a reversing camera – ideal in tight parking spaces. The extra £1,000 over the SE, we think, represents pretty good value.
Range-topping premium models cost from £20,295 but, by the time you’ve added the desirable diesel and automatic gearbox, this inflates to £23,595. It bring faux-leather heated seats, auto lights, climate control and an electronic parking brake but we think this is too expensive to recommend.
Hyundai i30 – picks of the range
Best for frugal city-dwellers – the 1.4 SE (£16,495) gets most of the kit you need and, around town, the 1.4 petrol should be the perfect balance between peppy performance and fuel economy.
Best for motorway mile-munchers – the 1.6 108hp SE Nav (£19,495) gets the extra torque needed to make motorway journeys go that much easier and costs nothing to tax. All the kit you could ever need is included in this trim, too.
Best for petrolheads – the 1.6 Turbo three-door (£22,495) has a sportier stance than the rest of the range thanks to the removal of two doors and, with the new turbo engine, should raise some grins on an open road.