Review: Hyundai i30

Review: Hyundai i30
Review: Hyundai i30

Has this third-generation family hatchback been improved enough?

Since 2007 Hyundai has been trying to fill as much of the family hatchback market as it can with the i30. Now, with a third-generation car, Hyundai is trying to run with the best. The result is a car with more rigidity, less weight, more size, a lower ride height and the promise of a better, quicker driving experience.

This is a seriously crowded, competitive area of the marketplace, and trying to stand out is hard. Looks are a subjective thing, but it might be a hard argument to make that the new i30 is a stand-out looker.

Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi Premium

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Price £22,195
Engine 4cyl, 1353cc, turbocharged, petrol
Power 138bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 178lb ft at 1500rpm
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Kerb weight 1352kg
Top speed 130mph
0-62mph 8.9sec
Economy (official) 52.3mpg
CO2/BIK tax band 124g/km, 21%

However, there is a new engine on offer, currently the quickest in the line-up. The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder has 138bhp but to match the 0-62mph time of just under nine seconds you’d have to do some serious violence to the engine and transmission.

It’s the usual Hyundai product, a sensible, decent engine that works best when you keep away from the performance edges. After all, isn’t that how most people drive their cars every day anyway? The six-speed gearbox is smooth enough and there’s decent torque, so maintaining sensible progress is easy and remarkably quiet.

Another reason not to start thrashing it is that the handling won’t really cope with you going ape. The controls generally feel quite heavy and steady and that’s how it is. The handling lets you lollop along quite comfortably but you soon learn not to start getting carried away.

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From the cabin perspective this actually works quite well, as Hyundai has worked hard to keep things quiet and comfortable inside, so there is little noise intrusion from everything from engine to suspension. The materials and fit seem good and it’s as solid as you’d expect from Hyundai.

We quite liked the new eight-inch infotainment screen, but Hyundai doesn’t seem to have trusted it much so there is a bewildering array of switches to play with on the dashboard instead. However, you get plenty of kit to choose from and this Premium spec comes with quite a few bells as well as whistles.

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Overall the i30 is like the cabin in that it offers a lot for the money, and it’s all comfy and sensible enough. Compared to the last generation, it’s a better car, being more refined, better handling and with better performance from the new engine. If you just compared this to the last one you’d be happy enough.

But this isn’t operating in isolation and, compared to some of the competitors like say the Vauxhall Astra, the i30 is a way off providing an enjoyable driving experience. How much that counts against its undoubted and sensibly priced attractions is very much down to the individual.

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