What's the used Hyundai i30 hatchback like?
Time was the phrases ‘Hyundai’ and ‘handsome’ would rarely have been seen together in the same sentence. No more, it would seem, because this third-generation i30 wears a suit as sharp as any other family car. The question is: does it have the substance to back up its style?
You get to choose between three petrol engines – a 1.0-litre, a 1.4-litre and a 2.0-litre – and a 1.6-litre diesel, all of which are turbocharged. A mid-life update introduced a range of hybrid engines including a 118bhp 1.0 T GDi 48v Hybrid 120, and a 1.5 T-GDi 48v Hybrid 159, which has 157bhp and a special-order 1.6 CRDi 48v Hybrid 136 diesel.
Entry-level S models come with all the basics, including 15in alloy wheels, a digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic emergency braking, but spend a little more and SE models add a colour touchscreen, rear parking sensors and a leather steering wheel. SE Nav adds an integrated sat-nav with a larger screen, if you can stretch to it.
Premium trim gives you climate control, artificial leather seats that are heated in the front, front and rear parking sensors and additional safety systems, while Premium SE gives you a panoramic sunroof, real leather seats and a heated steering wheel.
The mid-life update that brought in the hybrid engines also ushered in the following trims: N Line, Premium and SE Connect. SE Connect trim has most of what you might reasonably need or desire, including 16in alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearlever, air-con, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and power-folding door mirrors. N Line is the sporty option, mirroring the more aggressive looks of the full-fat i30N hot hatch, plus it brings privacy glass and climate control. Premium trim adds further luxuries such as keyless entry, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Unfortunately, on the road, none of the older engines are particularly scintillating in terms of performance, with the exception of the 2.0 petrol. This can be found exclusively in the i30N hot hatch, which bucks the trend of the rest of the range by offering genuinely involving handling and exhilarating acceleration. Of the hybrids, the 1.0 features a very small electric motor and battery, for a little electrical ‘kick’ as you drive around, but while there's enough performance for day-to-day driving, it's not going to set your world on fire. The 0-62mph sprint takes 11.2sec, which is slower than some of its rivals.
The i30 suffers from a little more engine and road noise than you might like, too, especially if you choose the 1.0 petrol engine. That said, it’s by no means the worst in its class for refinement; it just can’t quite match up to the best.
Out on the road, most versions of the i30 benefit from a soft suspension set-up that bestows upon it a very agreeable ride on all but the roughest of roads. The downside is that the i30 has a tendency to lean over more in corners, meaning it doesn’t feel as sharp or responsive as some of its more composed rivals. The slow, numb steering doesn’t help – but there is at least plenty of grip.
Inside, first impressions are promising; the i30’s dashboard is easy on the eye and the plastics used throughout are of reasonable quality. It’s a shame that some of them are rather dark, leading the interior to feel a little gloomy, but for the most part it’s not an unpleasant place to be.
You get a decent amount of space up front, too, although in the back it’s a little tighter than rivals such as the Skoda Octavia and Nissan Pulsar. The same can be said for the boot, although you do get slightly more luggage space than you’ll find in either a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus.
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