Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
None of the engines in the Hyundai i30 range is especially powerful (the i30N hot hatch is a different kettle of fish), and the range of engines to choose from is narrower than those of rivals such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf.
Our favourite engine is the entry-level turbocharged 118hp 1.0-litre petrol. It’s reasonably flexible and feels at home in town. The 138hp 1.4-litre petrol feels better on the motorway and pulls strong in top gear, but its extra power is more of a luxury rather than necessity.
Hyundai also offers the i30 with a 1.6-litre diesel engine, which pulls eagerly at all but very low revs. Ultimately, though, it's no faster than the 1.0-litre petrol, so is only worth considering if maximum miles per gallon is your priority.
Suspension and ride comfort
A supple ride is one of the Hyundai i30’s most endearing qualities. The suspension soaks up bumps with ease, and even higher-specced versions with larger alloy wheels provide good comfort for those on board. Rough roads make the i30 fidget around more than a Skoda Octavia, but never enough to make you truly uncomfortable.
The downside is that the i30 feels floatier over bigger bumps than some of its sportier rivals, although that’s not something that will bother many potential owners.
Comparatively soft suspension puts its emphasis on comfort, and the Hyundai i30 leans in corners more than a Ford Focus, for example. The Hyundai i30 doesn’t feel especially sharp or responsive, and you can feel its weight shifting around a little more on twisty roads.
It’s far from unwieldy, however, grips strongly and handles safely, even though its steering never really involves you in the action. Think of it as a pet dog that can’t be bothered to chase a ball, but which you’d trust to be left alone with your kids.
Noise and vibration
The engines are mostly civilised: the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine is particularly smooth, even when worked hard, while the diesel engine isn't at all uncouth either. The 1.0 petrol sends the most vibrations back through the controls, but it’s by no means terrible.
Whichever version you choose, the gearshift and major controls function smoothly (if not particularly precisely at times) and make the i30 feel relatively effortless to drive. The 1.4-litre is available with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly, but does cause the engine to rev harder than you might expect at times.