Normally, we know whether we like a car and whether or not we should recommend it to our users. However, with the Hyundai i30 we’re just not quite so sure.
You see, the i30 is handsome, well built, well equipped and comes with Hyundai’s excellent 5-year unlimited mileage warranty. However, while previous generations of the i30 have always offered value for money in addition to these qualities the latest incarnation has moved up market meaning that it’s now playing with the big boys. Unfortunately, we’re just not so sure if it’s ready for such an elevation.
We’re no wiser when we step into the i30’s cabin. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s extremely conservative and a relentless vista of black plastic. Ok, you could say the same about a Volkswagen Golf but at least the Golf has established itself as a credible premium car. It’s decently well-made and you’ll find lots of soft touch plastic on the dash and the leather steering wheel feels good. The leather seats are also very comfortable and there’s lots of decent storage dotted about. The i30 however still feels as though it’s lacking that little bit of wow factor.
What we’re reviewing in this article is the top spec Premium SE model which comes with leather seats, a panoramic sunroof and a heated steering wheel. One level below is the SE is the Premium which gets you part-leather and part-cloth seats, an electric parking brake and LED lights. Below the Premium is the SE Nav which is possibly the best pick of the bunch. Partly because this is where the nice 8-inch touchscreen becomes standard. It’s good to know that even the trims at the lower end of the range are pretty well equipped.
The i30 also deserves serious praise when it comes to safety kit. As standard you get auto-dipping headlights, autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assistance. These are big-car premium saftey systems and they come as standard on a £17k hatchback!
Three’s a crowd
Around at the back we’d have to say that things are pretty average. An adult with the height of let’s say 5ft 10in will find a decent amount of knee room while the headroom is just about ok even with the panoramic sunroof. However, we do think that if you’re over 6ft then you’re really going to struggle for space at the back. You’ll also find yourself sitting bolt upright and although the seats are relatively comfortable you do feel as though you’re sitting too upright which makes it a tad uncomfortable. Having said this there’s space for three people at the back but only just. This is thanks to an almost flat floor. The doors open nice and wide making it easy to load in your children and another bonus is that the iSOFix points are really easily reachable.
Good boot space
Things are pretty good around at the boot. With 195 litres at hand there’s more space than you’d find in the Vauxhall Astra and the VW Golf. It’s also a good shape which helps when fitting in your luggage. One of the things we like most about this car is that when you fold down the 40/60 split rear seats you get an almost flat loading area which is pretty good for this type of hatchback car.
There are two petrol engines available in the i30 and they are both turbo charged. The entry level is a 118 bhp (break horse power), 1.0 litre, three cylinder affair while the other has a 1.4 unit which produces 138 bhp. There’s also a 1.6 litre diesel which is certainly punchy enough and seriously economical. 0-62 miles per hour takes about 11 seconds in the 1.0 litre petrol and diesel while it takes around 8.9 for the 1.4 petrol engine. If fuel economy is a priority then the diesel manages a generally impressive 74 mpg (miles per gallon).
Our pick of engines would be the 1.4 because it’s simply the most powerful engine you can have in an i30 before the N models arrive. The good thing is that you’re getting 138 bhp and for most part is a very smooth and quiet engine. The bad thing is that there’s a huge amount of turbo lag with tis engine. You really have to rev it hard to make any real progress. This is a bit of a shame really because, although it’s a nice quiet engine and good fuel economy, the acceleration is very lethargic.
So, what’s the Hyundai i30 like to drive? Well, it’s very much a case of some good things and some bad things. We’ll start off with the bad things by saying that driving this car feels really numb and soggy. The steering it totally devoid of feel. You have no idea what the front wheels are doing because there’s simply no feedback from the steering wheel. The six-speed manual gear lever is very notchy but the worst thing are the pedals. The brakes feel very spongy while you’ll find it difficult to find the clutch’s biting point which is annoying whenever you’re at a junction trying to pull away. Another bad thing about this car is that if you opt for a trim which gives you the larger wheels then you’ll find the ride around town pretty chronic. It bangs and crashes into all sorts of pot holes and it really will give you the shakes. That’s pretty much the end of the bad stuff. The good thing about this car is that the i30 actually handles very well. This is doubly disappointing as if Hyundai had only given this car decent feedback though the steering and pedals then this car really could be almost as good as the SEAT Leon and Mazda 3 and definitely on par with the VW Golf. While the ride isn’t great around town on the move it’s smooth out pretty nicely particularly on the motorway. You’ll also find this car really hush on long journeys making it almost eerie. In fact cruising at 70mph we would say that this car is better refined than the Golf which is high praise indeed.
So, can we recommend the Hyundai i30 despite the iffy steering and uncomfortable ride around town? Yes we can. We wouldn’t recommend you buying one if you’re looking for fun on country roads or anything like that. However, if you’re a long distance driver then the i30 will look out for you and take care of you and it’s hard to think of higher praise that that! Take a look at the Hyundai i30 used cars for sale on DesperateSeller.co.uk to see if there one right for you.