Hyundai i30 hatchback
Price £14,305 - £23,230
- Spacious interior
- Great value for money
- High specification
- High running costs with automatic gearbox
- Lack of rear visibility
- Poor public image
At a glance
"The Hyundai i30 is a worthy contender to the VW Golf thanks to its comfortable interior, economical engines excellent five-year warranty.”
The Hyundai i30 was voted the Carbuyer Car of the Year in 2012, which should make it clear quite how highly we rate this car. The i30 was part of the new wave of models from Hyundai – cars that didn’t relie just on cheap prices and high specifications. Instead, Hyundai set out to build a car that was every bit as good as the tough competition – and it succeeded! While the Ford Focus is still the best handling car in its class, the Hyundai i30 offers an extremely quiet interior. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Golf, which is famed for its build quality, can’t match the five-year warranty offered by the Hyundai.
The Hyundai now comes with a range of frugal petrol and diesel engines, and is also available in three-door, fiver-door, or estate forms. All come generously equipped, with more standard kit than their more established rivals.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel engines are free to tax and capable of up to 76mpg
With fuel economy of an impressive 76.3mpg the Hyundai i30 Blue Drive is the most economical i30 thanks to its efficient 1.6-litre CRDI diesle engine. What's more, its low emissions of just 97g/km mean that road tax is free. Opt for the more powerful 126bhp 1.6-litre diesel, though, and economy remains strong – at 74.3mpg – while performance takes a useful leap.
The least economical model is the 1.6-litre petrol – especially when fitted with Hyundai's six-speed automatic gearbox. That model manages a less-than-impressive figure of 41.5mpg.
Interior & comfort
Spacious and quiet interior, with plenty of room for five
The Hyundai i30 provides comfort on two levels. The first comes courtesy of the car's space, which should be fine for five people and their luggage, while there are also numerous storage spaces dotted around the interior.
The second place the Hyundai scores highly is in its ability to isolate its passengers from the outside world. The cabin is impressively quiet, and the suspension also does an excellent job of ironing out bumpy roads, although we still think it falls slightly behind the Volkswagen Golf on this front. Hyundai i30 Active models and above also get Hyundai's Flex Steer system, which allows the driver to adjust the weight of the steering to make it less twitchy on the motorway, or lighter for low-speed manoeuvring in town.
Practicality & boot space
Good size boot is very useful, and there are plenty of cubbies dotted around the interior
The Hyundai has a 378-litre boot that is slightly smaller than the VW Golf's (380 litres), and much bigger than the measly 316-litre boot you get in the Ford Focus. Folding the back seats down means space swells to an impressive 1,316 litres, which is useful if you regularly carry longer or more bulky items. There's plenty of room in the front for the driver and passenger and the rear seat can also accommodate three people.
The Hyundai i30 hatchback boasts plenty of storage space for odds and ends, coming with deep door bins, a handy lidded cubbyhole between the front seats, and a glovebox that is chilled by the car's air-conditioning system.
Reliability & safety
Impressive build quality and a long warranty make the i30 a reliable car
The Hyundai i30 finished a respectable 43rd out of 150 cars in our 2013 Driver Power Survey finishing ahead of far more expensive models from the likes of Land Rover, Porsche and Lexus. That's not to mention the fact it totally trounced its rival, the Ford Focus, which finished in 70th position. The Golf finished well ahead of both of them in 16th, though.
While Hyundai has made huge gains in the perceived quality of its cars this is still an area that Volkswagen excels in. Nonetheless, the Hyundai i30's warranty – which is five years/100,000 miles – is bettered only by the seven-year cover offered by rival Korean manufacturer, Kia. The Hyundai is also very safe, and the car achieved a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
Engines, drive & performance
Safe and dependable, but not that exciting
However economy definitely was high on Hyundai's agenda – and there are no seriously thirsty i30s. Most economical is the 1.6-litre diesel, which does 76.3mpg with low emissions that mean it qualifies for free road tax. It has 109bhp, which is enough to get the i30 from 0-60mph in 11.5 seconds, but it's worth noting you can get the same diesel engine tuned to produce 126bhp, which for us is the pick of the bunch. It gets from 0-60mph in a more brisk 10.9 seconds, but is still capable of returning 68.9mpg, while emissions mean road tax is just £20 annually.
The Hyundai is a nice, rather than a particularly inspiring, car to drive; where a Ford Focus wills you to corner with gusto thanks to nicely-weighted steering and minimal body lean, the Hyundai feels happier to take a more relaxed pace. The suspension can also feel quite firm at times, which wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t for the car's noticeable body lean.
Price, value for money & options
Standard equipment levels are high
Even the basic Hyundai i30 Classic comes well-specced with equipment such as a Bluetooth phone connection and voice recognition, a USB port, front foglights, air-con, heated door mirrors, and electronic stability control. Active models add to that list, with things like cruise control and rear electric windows, while SE models get automatic headlights and wipers, as well as dual-zone climate control. The car can also be specced with a panoramic sunroof and sat-nav, while the top-spec Premium model gets a leather interior, with heated front seats.
While Hyundai's excellent five-year warranty gives the car's owner peace of mind for up to half a decade, sadly it can’t prop up the Hyundai's used values, and we would expect the i30 to lose more money than both the VW Golf and the Ford Focus.
What the others say
"The range will kick off at around £14,000 when the i30 goes on sale in March, starting with a 1.4 petrol. There's also a 1.6 petrol plus two 1.6 diesels – we drove the more powerful 128bhp diesel rather than the 110bhp version, but they share excellent economy and CO2 figures of 76mpg and 97g/km, so are exempt from road tax."
"Emissions are lower than ever, while the build quality inside and out has improved vastly."
"What Hyundai really wants to push though is the equipment list, which puts the i30 alongside the class leaders. Expensive toys include Bluetooth compatibility, cruise control, heated seats, LED running and cornering lamps, switchable steering-weight program, Xenon headlamps and a reversing camera."