2015 Hyundai i30 Turbo review

The Hyundai i30 Turbo is a warm-hatch verison of a fine car. However, at 22,500 it's not cheap, so it has to be good to beat cars such as the Ford Focus ST or Seat Leon FR...

2015 Hyundai i30 Turbo review

This is the Hyundai i30 Turbo. It’s a tuned-up offering of the company’s Ford Focus rival and joins a recently updated i30 range.

As part of the refresh all i30s have gained a new grille, headlights, improved refinement and added technology. The i30 Turbo, which is available in three and five-door guises, takes this further with sports suspension, more aggressive front and rear bumpers, a rear diffuser, a quicker steering rack, bigger brakes and larger 18in alloy wheels.

In standard spec the i30 has always earned our plaudits thanks to its spacious cabin and comfortable drive.

The question is, has the i30 Turbo added enough sporting zest to justify its hefty £22,500 price tag, especially against excellent rivals like the Seat Leon 1.4 TSI 150 FR and Ford Focus ST?

What’s the 2015 Hyundai i30 Turbo like to drive?

With 184bhp from the 1.6-litre petrol engine, the i30 Turbo feels brisk, rather than Focus ST fast, but it is pleasingly flexible to drive.

The turbocharger starts to work from 1500prm onwards, so there’s plenty of mid-range clout whatever gear you are in. However, to achieve its claimed 0-62mph acceleration of 8.0 seconds you’ll need to use all the revs, as the engine feels most potent past 4000rpm.

Despite sprouting a set of twin exhaust tailpipes, the engine doesn’t sound anymore throaty than a standard i30 petrol. This, combined with the modest performance on offer, leaves you feeling a little short changed after the car’s sporty billing.

It’s not particularly efficient, either. Although it’s slightly quicker, the Leon FR manages a claimed 60.1mpg combined fuel consumption while the i30 Turbo returns only 38.7mpg.

The i30 Turbo’s higher CO2 emissions of 169g/km, as opposed to the Leon’s 109g/km, means higher company car tax and another £175 a year in road tax, too.

The firmer suspension set-up on the i30 Turbo means you lose the compliance of the standard models, but that’s only to be expected. It’s most notable around town over speed bumps and broken surfaces, but at speed it mostly settles, with a little body movement over undulating roads.

This firmness is rewarded with better composure through the bends. The i30 Turbo remains stable and resists excessive body roll. It doesn’t feel as exciting to drive as the Focus ST, though, which is more lively and engaging.

You can adjust the steering weight from a button on the steering wheel. Comfort setting keeps the weighting light for town driving while normal feels like the ideal default for everything else. Sport firms it up to the maximum but still doesn’t allow much feedback through the wheel. However, the Turbo’s quicker steering rack does sharpen up the car’s responses on initial turn-in to a corner.

The rest of the control weights are well engineered, including a light, short-throw six-speed manual gearchange and a positive brake pedal, which makes it easy to judge the braking effort required.

On the motorway there’s a little road roar and wind noise from around the door mirrors, but for the most part it's a relaxed cruiser.

What’s the 2015 Hyundai i30 Turbo like inside?

To jazz up the interior, Hyundai has added part man-made leather sports seat with contrasting red side bolsters, along with red stitching on the leather steering wheel, gear lever gaiter and doors trims. It also comes with red details on the dials, a black headlining and aluminium pedals.

The spec list makes good reading if you like your toys and does help justify the high list price. A touchscreen infotainment system, sat-nav, cruise control, a rear-parking camera, adaptive Xenon headlights, heated front seats, keyless entry and Bluetooth with music streaming are all standard.

The driving position is very good, the only minor fly in the ointment being the slightly limited amount of steering wheel extension.

As with the rest of the i30 range, there is plenty of space on offer, front and rear, with a 378-litre boot, which is bigger than you’ll find in the Focus, and just falls short of a Leon’s. 

Wide front windscreen pillars can restrict your forward vision, while the angled rear side windows and smallish rear screen mean that the parking camera does comes in handy when reversing. Drivers get a knee airbag, too.

Should I buy one?

The i30 Turbo is roomy, pleasant to drive and comfortable, but these are all elements that are present in cheaper versions of the i30, and you'd hope this expensive Turbo version would offer something different.

As a sports hatch it’s not sufficiently quick or sporty enough to appeal to enthusiasts, and it’s too expensive when judged against other warm-hatch offerings.

A Focus ST is faster and handles better, and if you can live without the extras, like sat-nav and keyless entry in basic spec, it’s slightly cheaper, too. Then there’s the Seat Leon 1.4 FR. It is just as fast as the Hyundai, but also offers a better driving experience, and is cheaper and similarly well equipped.

What Car? says...

The rivals:

Ford Focus ST

Seat Leon FR

Hyundai i30 Turbo 3dr

Engine size 1.6-litre petrol

Price from £22,500

Power 184bhp

Torque 195lb ft

0-62mph 8.0 seconds

Top speed 136mph

Fuel economy 38.7mpg

CO2 169g/km