Hyundai i30 review
Bold styling, a classy interior and decent dynamics make the Hyundai i30 a genuine rival to the VW Golf
Hyundai has progressed from a budget manufacturer to a mainstream front-runner, and the i30 is a strong challenger in the hatchback class, thanks to its quality, space, efficiency and range of well equipped models.
The latest Hyundai i30 has been tasked with toppling the VW Golf and Ford Focus from the top of the family hatchback class. It’s not a class leader but it does get an upmarket interior, a great-value price tag, low CO2 emissions and an excellent five-year warranty. In fact, it’s so good that our sister title CarBuyer.co.uk crowned it its inaugural Car of the Year in 2012.
As well as the five-door hatchback, Hyundai also offers a larger i30 Tourer estate model, which offers a 528-litre load area, which can be expanded to 1642 litres when the rear seats are folded. A three-door model joined the line-up at the beginning of 2013.
Unlike rivals like the Kia Pro_cee’d, the i30 three-door uses the same platform as the standard car but it does get a more steeply raked beltline for a more dynamic look and longer doors to aid access to the rear seats.
Our choice: i30 1.6 CRDi Blue Drive Active
Today, even mainstream five-door hatchbacks have to make an impact, and the Hyundai i30 is one of the better-looking models on sale. All cars get bright LED running lights, a hexagonal grille and sculpted lines that flow along the body to the high-set tail. As a result, it’s a lot more cohesive and attractive than the Skoda Rapid Spaceback.
The three-door model is even better looking, with improved proportions, a new front end and lots of sporty touches like tinted windows on most models. On the inside, build quality is impressive but there are still some hard plastics and shiny surfaces. It can’t quite rival the VW Golf for upmarket appeal, but it’s more than a match for the Ford Focus and Mazda 3.
There are five trim levels to choose from. Entry-level Classic cars get LED running lights, steering-wheel-mounted controls and Bluetooth, but do without alloy wheels and the bold chrome grille seen on every other model. Active models get 15-inch alloys, cruise control, rear parking sensors and an adaptive steering system.
Style models get larger wheels, front parking sensors and automatic headlights, while Style Nav trim brings sat-nav and a rear view camera. Range-topping Premium cars come with new 17-inch alloys, chrome door handles, electric mirrors, leather upholstery, an electric driver’s seat, heated front seats and keyless starts.
Inside, the dashboard centre console design is stylish, with its two-tone silver trim and quality materials. Yet while the switchgear has a crisp action, the driver has to stretch to reach some of the buttons on the left of the centre stack.
From behind the wheel it’s comfortable, the engine is relatively smooth and it’s easy to drive, if not particularly exciting.
There’s a decent amount of grip, and while there’s some body roll in corners, it’s largely kept in check.
Active versions and above get the brand’s new Flex steer system, which allows drivers to choose from Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. Accessed via a button on the wheel, it alters the weighting of the steering to suit road conditions and your mood.However, although the set-up is direct, it lacks the feedback you get in a Ford Focus or VW Golf.
The ride quality is good, although it can’t iron out imperfections as well as the VW. It thumps into potholes at low speed, while motorway expansion joints resonate through the cabin. As with the old car, buyers have a choice of 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines.
The pick of the range is the 1.6-litre CRDi, as it’s a smooth and punchy performer in both 108bhp and 126bhp guises. All models get a slick six-speed manual gearbox, while a six-speed automatic is available as an option.
Hyundai is gaining a reputation for making reliable cars, and its five-year warranty helps. It goes one better than Toyota’s 100,000-mile package by not having a mileage limit, and five years’ breakdown cover is also included.
The Driver Power 2013 survey saw Hyundai fall seven places to 14th out of 32. The i30 did not feature, but the old model actually topped the survey in 2010.
Euro NCAP awarded the i30 the standard five-star crash test rating, and the hatch features six airbags, stability control, hill-start assist and emergency stop signalling as part of its list of standard safety kit.
The 378-litre boot capacity rises to 1,316 litres with the back seats folded - it’s just 2 litres less than the VW Golf and 62 litres more than the Focus hatch. The boot is a good shape on both the five and three-door models.
There’s plenty of room up front for the driver and passenger to lounge around, while the rear bench will easily accommodate three adults.
Rear seats are decent, and the middle seat benefits from a flat floor. However, the small rear windows and black fabrics and plastic make it feel claustrophobic.
There’s also plenty of cabin storage, with all models getting deep door bins, an air-conditioned glovebox and useful lidded cubby between the front seats.
The most efficient i30 is the 1.6 CRDi Blue Drive. The 108bhp model promises to return a city car-rivalling fuel consumption figure of 76.3mpg and emits only 97g/km of CO2, making it free to tax.
A more powerful 128bhp unit delivers equally impressive figures of 74.3mpg and 100g/km, thanks to a standard-fit stop-start system. But all versions should be quite cheap to run, as even the entry-level 1.4-litre 98bhp petrol engine manages to return average mpg of more than 47 with CO2 emissions of 139 g/km.
Every i30 comes with a decent haul of equipment, as well as Hyundai’s excellent five-year warranty and free breakdown assistance package. Low prices means it will cost you less to buy than many of its more premium rivals, too.
One of the i30’s biggest problems, though, are its poor residual values, with most versions only holding onto around 39 per cent of their value after three years. But fixed-price servicing of £449 is competitive, and that standard five-year warranty is a big plus.