Review: Hyundai i30

Better built and more stylish than its rivals

07 Jan 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Stylish looks

  • Good range of engines

  • Five year warranty

Cons

  • Firm ride

  • Residual value is poor

  • Not the most exciting to drive

Our expert rating

The Hyundai i30 has been around since 2007 and then the second generation – a more popular model on the used car market – was introduced in 2012. The vehicle is aimed at the small family market and is available as a hatchback or estate.  

Performance

The i30 line-up consists of a bunch of petrol and diesels. The petrols range from the weak 1.4 litre to the more wholesome 1.6. The pull available from the diesel units is better, and the fuel efficiency is superior.

The finest diesel is the 1.6 litre with the higher 126bhp state of tune. It is not a quiet lump, but there is enough muscle for a good overtake and plenty of shove for joining high speed motorways from slip roads.

The diesel will also tow a trailer pretty well if this is required. The car is hooked up to a six speed manual or automatic gearbox, with smooth changes on both forms of transmission. Economy-wise, the higher powered 1.6 diesel will do just a shade off 70mpg with a manual gearbox.

Emissions are low too, with CO2 emissions of only 108g/km. This puts the i30 into a low tax band, equating to cheap running costs.

Hyundai i30 from the rear

Ride and handling

The Hyundai eats up lumpy road surfaces and positively seems to ignore any potholes. Its steering can feel synthetic though, due to the three modes you can drive in. At just the touch of a button the i30 can be made to go into a sporty, comfort or normal steering style.

The system is known as Flex Steer and, basically, the sportier you go, the heavier the steering gets. It is not a natural feel and can be a tad less than effective at communicating what is going on beneath the wheels.

Other than that, the car handles well and there is lots of grip to be had in the corners, with little in the way of body lean. The Hyundai i30 from 2012 onwards has undergone Euro NCAP's stringent crash tests and it scored the maximum five stars, meaning that safety levels for this second generation i30 model are first class.

Hyundai i30 interior

Interior space

The i30’s seats are very comfortable, although there is a distinct lack of support, which is noticeable in corners. Leg and headroom is really spacious for four people and the Hyundai i30 hatchback has one of the greatest load areas in its class, gobbling up 378 litres worth of luggage.

The car is also crammed full of kit as standard, so the entry trim is really all that is needed. Equipment at this uncomplicated Classic trim level includes fog lights, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio and phone controls, LED daytime running lights, air-conditioning, electric front windows, a stereo with MP3 port, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors and even a height-alterable driver’s seat.

Hyundai i30 boot space

What to know before you buy

The Hyundai i30 is generally hardy and reliable. Nevertheless, the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) can go a bit doolally on older models, giving a false impression that the pressures are out.

It’s always best to check tyres and inflate or deflate them (when they are cold) as necessary anyway. Get the TPMS system looked at by a dealer if the light keeps illuminating. Especially if you are sure all the tyres are at the right pressure and there is no puncture.

A TPMS fault will cause your i30 to fail its MOT, so it’s worth getting it fixed for that reason alone.

There was also a minor recall notice issued on models made between January to the end of February 2012, due to fears the handbrake may not fully release.

This recall was issued in April 2013, so most cars should have been mended. If in doubt, a local Hyundai dealership will be able to help check the situation and remedy it.

Hyundai i30 from the side

Alternative cars

The Hyundai i30’s boot wipes the floor with competitors such as the Mazda3 and Seat’s pre 2013 Leon. The i30 may not be quite as satisfying to drive as either of these cars but, from a luggage swallowing point of view, it has more capacity than the Mazda 3 hatchback’s 364 litres and Leon’s 327-litre boot.

That said, the Seat Leon from 2013 on is brimming with technology and its boot was enlarged to 380 litres, just beating the i30 hatchback.

Hyundai i30 alternatives

Overall verdict

The Hyundai i30 comes with a range of good petrol and diesel engines. Build quality is on a level with bigger motor manufacturers and, arguably, the styling is more eye-catching than some of the better known rivals.

It’s just a shame the Flex Steer isn’t more of a thrilling system. In many ways it’s merely a gimmick and is mostly ignored. One massive plus point over the i30’s challengers is that it comes with a five-year warranty, and this is totally transferable from owner to owner during this period of time.

So, even if you buy a four-year-old Hyundai i30, there will still be a twelve-month manufacturer warranty left on the car.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall