The Hyundai i30’s line-up starts with a 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine, and while it’s not especially fast, it’s reasonably flexible. The emphasis, though, is on diesel. We haven’t yet driven the 1.4 with 89bhp, but the 1.6 in both its guises – with 109bhp or 126bhp – is very punchy indeed. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual, but an automatic is offered with either a 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol or the 109bhp diesel.
The i30’s suspension is extremely supple, and copes brilliantly with uneven surfaces at all speeds. The car feels pretty composed in bends, too; there’s more body lean than you feel in many rivals, but it never feels too wallowy and there’s plenty of grip. The steering is frustrating, though, because it feels disconcertingly vague around the straight-ahead. The FlexSteer system on most versions lets you select different weights of steering, but fails to make much difference.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine is smooth and reasonably restrained even when revved hard. The 1.6 diesel clatters at start-up, and has a slightly gruff edge if you get beyond 4000rpm, but once it’s warmed up and/or cruising, it becomes a more subdued companion. Unfortunately, road noise ruins the calm; the tyres rumble irritatingly even at low speeds.
Pick one of the diesels, and you’ll enjoy bargain basement running costs. Even the more powerful 1.6 with 126bhp has emissions that are low enough to excuse you from paying road tax, and the correspondingly low fuel consumption keeps costs down, too. The petrols aren’t quite so impressive, but all versions of the i30 are aggressively priced and give you lots of kit for your cash.
The i30’s dashboard has a striking design, and while the entry Classic trim level looks a little basic, the other three specs – Active, Style and Style Nav – get nicer materials that are the equal of any Ford Focus. Hyundai did well in What Car?’s most recent reliability survey, too, finishing well clear of VW, Ford and Vauxhall.
There’s no shortage of safety kit with the i30. Standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, six airbags, and stability control. You can also add a driver’s knee airbag as an option. It’s no great surprise, then that the i30 has received the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Every button on the dashboard is big enough to hit at a glance, and all the controls are clearly marked, too. Most of them are also positioned high up for added ease of use, and this has also freed up a storage space area ahead of the gearlever, so there’s a decent amount of oddment space. The seats are well positioned, comfortable and supportive.
Front passengers get lots of head and shoulder room, and those in the rear are unlikely to complain about the amount of head- and kneeroom. The boot has a reasonably low lip and offers 378 litres of capacity; that’s more than either the VW Golf or Ford Focus. With the rear seats folded flat (and the seat cushions themselves folded forwards), that volume increases to an equally impressive 1316 litres.
You might not expect basic Classic-spec i30s to bring many toys, but you’ll get a decent list of them, including Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights, air-con, multi-function steering wheel, electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, and one-touch indicators. Active trim adds rear parking sensors and FlexSteer, while Style gets dual-zone climate control, front parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and electrically folding door mirrors.
Order a brochure, find your nearest dealer or book a test drive
Our favourite version of the i30. A great car, especially at this money.