In-depth Reviews

Hyundai i30 hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The Hyundai i30 is a genuinely impressive motorway cruiser, but it’s a shame tighter roads reveal shortcomings

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

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Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

If you’re in the market for a family hatchback that thrills, impresses and entertains on A and B-roads, you’re better off choosing an alternative to the Hyundai i30 – perhaps a Ford Focus or SEAT Leon. Although the i30 develops little body lean when cornering, we found its steering too sensitive and the wheel needed frequent corrective inputs to keep the car running in a straight line.

In fairness, some will see that as a benefit – the MINI hatchback, for instance, has lively and sharp steering, which makes country-lane drives an intuitive and sprightly experience. But while the MINI backs up this liveliness up with plenty of steering ‘feel’, the i30’s wheel seemed somewhat inert and lifeless in our hands, providing little information on how much grip the front wheels had. We also found the suspension a little too unsettled around town.

Yet all that’s forgotten as soon as you get up to motorway speeds, where the i30 genuinely impresses. Wind and road noise are minimal and the overall impression is of a competent, comfortable and effortless long-distance cruiser. The i30 manages to feel like a far larger car on the motorway with regard to how planted and civilised it seems.

The sporty N-Line model benefits from chassis revisions, an updated suspension setup and superior brakes. It handles better than the standard car but the engine feels overly restrained when you compare it to the more powerful 2.0-litre engine in the i30 N.

Hyundai i30 petrol engines

The entry-level 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine is reasonably brisk, getting the i30 from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds. Our test car had the most powerful 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine though, which is easy to recommend if you can afford the extra £800 or so over the 1.0-litre. The bigger engine gets the i30 from 0-62mph in just 8.9 seconds and has plenty of shove for joining motorways and overtaking slower traffic. Like many turbocharged engines, there’s a bit of a dead spot at very low revs, but once the turbo kicks in, progress is rapid.

Diesel engines

The 1.6-litre engine that’s offered is familiar Hyundai fare, so it’s smooth and quiet. You can choose this 108bhp engine with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and they take 11 and 11.2 seconds to get from 0-62mph respectively.

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