Hyundai i30 review
The Hyundai i30 is a well-built and refined family car, but it fails to excite in a class with plenty of dynamic and stylish rivals
The latest Hyundai i30 does just enough to keep pace with a pool of very talented family hatchback rivals that includes the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf. It’s not the most exciting compact family car on the market, but it’s well built, refined and economical, and comes with a strong haul of standard equipment.
The entry-level 1.0 T-GDi petrol engine is our favourite, offering a truly grown-up driving experience despite its seemingly modest power output. A Renault Megane is more stylish and a SEAT Leon more fun to drive, but the i30 should find its way onto your shortlist if you’re in the market for a rational alternative to the Vauxhall Astra - or the mechanically similar Kia Ceed.
About the Hyundai i30
Among such talented opposition in the family hatchback class, the i30 is a bit of an uninspiring choice, but it does have its selling points. The i30 is available as a five-door hatchback and compact i30 Tourer estate, along with the five-door coupe-style i30 Fastback. There's a faster i30N version of the hatchback and Fastback.
The i30 has recently been facelifted, with a view to increasing its appeal. With striking LED headlights and a bold new grille, the i30 is certainly smarter than before - although Hyundai hasn’t gone to the same lengths as it did with the distinctive Tucson SUV. Changes are less noticeable around the back, save for a slightly jazzier set of tail-lights.There’s also a racier look for i30s with the N Line trim, as Hyundai looks to tempt buyers away from alternatives like the popular Ford Focus ST-Line range and the SEAT Leon’s FR models - trim levels that bring a sporty flavour to conventional hatchbacks by mirroring the styling of the respective hot hatch versions.
Within the facelift, Hyundai also streamlined the i30 range. There’s no longer a sparsely equipped S model, so SE Connect is now the entry-level specification. As a result, alloy wheels, a rear-view camera and an eight-inch touchscreen (with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity) are all now standard. N Line adds two-zone air conditioning, sports seats, a digital instrument cluster and a bigger touchscreen, while Premium is very well-equipped, with heaters for the front seats and steering wheel, and a wireless charging pad.
Car group tests
Engines comprise two mild-hybrid petrol units and a diesel. The range starts with the 1.0 T-GDi 120PS turbo petrol three-cylinder (GDi stands for Gasoline Direct Injection). Given that it’s available on SE Connect and Premium versions, we expect this engine to be the big-seller. Above that sits a new 1.5 T-GDi 157bhp petrol, which is reserved for the sportier N-Line trim. The 1.6 CRDi diesel is also an option on the SE Connect and Premium trim levels.
All models are fitted with a six-speed ‘intelligent’ manual gearbox as standard, or each one can be had with a seven-speed twin-clutch DCT auto. The upgrade is priced at £1,200, and only has a slightly negative effect on emissions and economy.
The i30 N is the range flagship and the first in a line of performance cars to be launched under the ‘N’ sub-brand. The standard i30 N with 247bhp is no longer available. Instead, the previously optional Performance version, with an electronic differential, bigger brakes and 271bhp, is now the sole i30 N model, priced at a fraction under £30,000.
The i30 Fastback coupe is less impressive to drive, but arguably just as good to look at. It majors on style, specification, quality, value and packaging, and prices start from a little over £25,500.
As we've mentioned already, the i30 is in a fiercely competitive class with a variety of very strong rivals. Chief among these are mainstream choices such as the VW Golf, Renault Megane and Peugeot 308. These all have a premium feel about them that the i30 struggles to match. Elsewhere, the Skoda Octavia mixes quality and space, while the SEAT Leon, Mazda 3 and Ford Focus are sportier options, the Toyota Corolla throws hybrid drive into the mix, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is ageing but different, while the Fiat Tipo is a budget alternative.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Hyundai i30 is a well-built and refined family car, but it fails to excite in a class with plenty of dynamic and stylish rivals
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe 1.0 T-GDi turbo is our pick of the range, whether you’re a private or business buyer
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThere’s no dedicated i30 eco model, but all versions should return decent fuel economy
- 4Interior, design and technologyDespite a few quality issues inside, the i30 feels well built and nicely designed. The clear infotainment screen is a boon, too
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe i30’s boot is on a par with rivals, but space in the back is limited for taller adults
- 6Reliability and SafetyReliability is generally good, and the Hyundai i30 comes loaded with safety kit which helps it achieve a top Euro NCAP rating