Hyundai i30 hatchback
"The Hyundai i30 is comfortable enough for long motorway drives and loaded with safety kit, making it easy to overlook its weaker points"
- Excellent standard safety equipment
- Fantastic motorway cruiser
- Good engine range
- Badge lacks desirability
- Steering too sensitive
- Rear headroom not the best
Glance at a list of the best-selling models in the UK and you’ll notice that most are hatchbacks, and that the majority of those are Hyundai i30-sized cars aimed squarely at families. The top sellers regularly include the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra but the i30 doesn’t yet sell in sufficient numbers to join them on the list. That’s a pity because the i30 is able to match them for the best in class award, thanks in part to an impressively long list of standard equipment and boot space that beats both the Golf and Focus.
Safety is one area where the i30 excels, because Hyundai has fitted technology like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance and even headlights that dip automatically – all as standard. This isn’t something that can be said for every rival, and is a commendable move by Hyundai.
The petrol and diesel engines are convincing, too, with a 1.0-litre petrol starting things off with 118bhp, while a larger 1.4-litre boasts 138bhp. These are modern, eager, turbocharged engines and vie for attention next to the 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel. For those wanting even more performance, we recommend the i30 N, it’s fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 247 or 271bhp (if you go for the Performance version).
Fuel economy for the non-performance i30 petrol models, spans from 44.8mpg to 46.3mpg, while the diesel can manage up to 58.9mpg with a manual gearbox or 60.1mpg with a seven-speed automatic. The fastest car in the range is the 1.4-litre petrol, getting from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, while the smaller engine and diesel both take around 11 seconds. The top petrol and diesel are both available with the automatic, which has little effect on performance.
Get behind the wheel and the i30 driving experience is both impressive and frustrating. On the motorway it’s very refined and similarly quiet to a Golf or Astra, but the steering feels twitchy, so the i30 needs regular inputs to keep it in the middle of the lane.
Inside, the i30 is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and feels well built: the dashboard design is conservative, sure, but it’s pleasant enough and overall material quality is good, save for one rather prominent piece of scratchy plastic. The rear seats are adequately spacious rather than impressively roomy (six-footers will find them tight) but the 395-litre boot means the i30 has more luggage space than the Astra, Focus, Golf and A3 – although not the Skoda Octavia.
All i30s come with a DAB radio, all-round electric windows, alloy wheels, LED running lights and Bluetooth connectivity, but it’s definitely worth upgrading from basic S trim to either SE or (ideally) SE Nav. SE and above also bring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Premium and Premium SE include some luxurious touches, but they’re too expensive to justify. An N-Line model was added to the range in autumn 2018 and is intended as a less extreme alternative to the flagship performance model, the i30 N. Although it may be slightly cheaper to run and buy, it's hard to ignore the fact that the more powerful, more focused i30 N starts from only £1,000 more.
The impressive safety kit roster is effective, with Euro NCAP awarding the i30 five stars after independent crash testing. In terms of reliability, Hyundai’s most appearance in the 2019 Driver Power survey produced mixed results. Owners were generally happy with the reliability of Hyundais, despite the brand only coming 22nd out of 30 manufacturers overall.