Hyundai i30: Fourth report

11 Feb, 2013 10:15am Dawn Grant

Our long-term Hyundai i30 has a dark secret - its poorly lit cabin is irritating our picture editor

I've been left in the dark by our Hyundai i30. It’s got nothing to do with a mystery breakdown or a technical issue. Instead, it’s the lack of interior lighting that’s been letting the car down.

The short winter days mean I’ve been doing a lot of night-time journeys lately, and the lack of illumination is starting to become something of a bugbear. Of course, while you’re on the move, there’s no problem, and the Hyundai is equipped with excellent headlights that cast a bright beam on the road ahead. And when they’re not in use, the smart LED daytime running lamps look stylish and help others notice you.

But inside, it’s a different story. I’ve mentioned in previous reports that there is no lighting in the front cabin, and it’s really starting to irritate, especially if I’m stopped somewhere and am waiting to pick up a friend or family member. The single roof-mounted light is set back in the middle of the car, and while that helps when you’re in the back seats, hardly any light is cast forwards, making it difficult to get out a book or magazine to read while I’m waiting. Plus, the vanity mirrors in the sun visors don’t have courtesy lights, so there’s no solution there, either.

In daylight, I really don’t have any complaints about the look of the cabin. The touches of silver trim add a smart edge to the clear layout, and the i30 feels well built. The only real niggle is that the centre console curves away from you, so you have to lean forward to reach the upper controls.

But on a cold, dark, winter morning, the lighting issue raises itself again. There’s a lot of black plastics and fabrics on board, and if you’re nowhere near a street light, it’s difficult to find your way around, especially if you drop something.

This was something that was highlighted when the glovebox mysteriously broke a few weeks back. My daughter opened it as normal, but everything came flying out as the door ended up pointing towards the floor. For a few days, I was none the wiser to the cause, until I found a small black plastic stopper in the passenger footwell. It was a simple job to reinsert the part, and now
the glovebox opens normally again.

And thanks to products writer Jamie Fretwell, I have a handy solution to my lighting problem. He’s supplied me with a small clip-on light by Osram that attaches to the sun visor. It’s nice and easy to use, and there are no worries about it running out of battery, because it charges via a USB lead, so I can plug it straight into the i30’s standard fit socket.

The fact that the poor interior lighting is my only real criticism of the Hyundai is proof of what a great car it is to live with. Admittedly, it’s not the most exciting or refined car on our fleet, but it’s a great-value family hatchback, and I have come to appreciate its unfussy, reliable approach.

The spacious interior allows five adults to travel in comfort, while the large boot has swallowed everything I’ve thrown at it, too. Fuel economy of 41.5mpg and exemption from London’s Congestion Charge are just the icing on the cake.

All I need is for the days to get longer so I can once again be enlightened by its talents.

Our view

“If you want a good value family hatch the i30 is hard to fault, but it lacks the VW Golf’s feelgood factor.”
Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester

Your view

“Hyundai makes some impressive cars, but I feel they are starting to look a little steep on price. ”
Cuzy via

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I don't know how you cowboys drive. I get better mpg from a petrol engine and mind you I don't drive slow.

I bought a 2012 Hyundai i30 in April last year but did not notice the front interior map light was missing until my wife went to park in an unlit car park when the nights started pulling in 6 months later. Besides, checking that you can reach and switch on the interior light in a 2012 car is like checking that you can turn your head lights on! Hyundai themselves were most unhelpful, appearing to shrug their shoulders, offer no technical solution and referred me to my local dealer Rodgers in Plymouth. Initially they said their hands were tied because they did not have the wiring details, etc..

After a couple of frosty encounters with the salesman who sold us the car, I made it perfectly clear what I thought of Hyundai's technical expertise (or apparent lack of it!). Then a month ago after our first service the Sales Manager at Rodgers got in touch with Turnbulls, a local auto electrical firm, and arranged for us to visit to discuss the problem. When they saw the problem they burst out laughing and could not believe it.

After a short discussion we went back and ordered a standard front map light for an i30 ((£150 + VAT and approximate size 200 x 190) to fit the raised outline of the map light on the inside lining. Turnbulls cut out the opening, found the two pads for securing the light but unfortunately no wiring harness. So they had to drop out the rear courtesy light and 'hard wire' four wires to it and feed them through to the front opening. After careful testing they made up sleeves to fit over the four male plug pins and finished off with heat-shrink. Time taken - two to three hours work. Well worth the cost even though I think Hyundai should at least supplied me with a free map light!

my i30 is the same cus its a 12 reg plate...I have noticed that the later modals have them fitted in now :(

Key specs

  • On fleet since: June 2012
  • Price new: £17,995
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 109bhp
  • CO2/Tax: 97g/km/£0
  • Options: Metallic paint (£445)
  • Trade-in now: N/A
  • Insurance group/quote: 12/£669
  • Mileage: 5,543
  • Mpg: 39.9mpg
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: None so far