Hyundai i30: road test
Good looking and spacious, but this version’s too much like hard work.
What is it?
The Hyundai i30 is a spacious family car offering plenty of kit and low running costs. It’s stylish to look at, but inside there’s still a whiff of bargain-basement tinniness.
How safe is it?
Stability control is standard on all models, as are six airbags. The i30 also scored five stars in its Euro NCAP tests. The driver’s knee airbag is an optional extra.
Who should buy one?
If you’re looking for generous equipment levels for your money, then take this seriously. If you do a high mileage, then don’t choose the weak, lifeless model we tested.
Road test by James Luckhurst, published 11 August 2015
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
First impressions are of an attractive, stylish hatchback that’s likely to prove a worthy alternative to pricier rivals in a highly competitive sector. The cockpit was generously (if over-fussily) equipped; finding a comfortable driving position was made easy by the adjustable steering wheel (rake and reach can be changed). So quite a good start, really.
Switch on and start heading somewhere… then the disappointment sets in. We found little in the way of driver satisfaction from this, the least powerful model in the i30 line-up. Acceleration was always an effort, rather than being pleasurable or rewarding. From a standing start, we were left wondering if we would ever get up to sensible cruising speeds. On motorway stretches we found we had to plan any overtaking manoeuvres a lot further ahead than we would have expected to, simply because the i30 just ran out of va-voom too quickly.
We’d better get the negatives out of the way, because our next gripe was the flabby steering that gave little in the way of feedback, and therefore did not inspire the confidence we wanted. Disturbingly, this applied to journeys on long straight stretches as well as round corners. We had a little play with the ‘Flex Steer’ system, offering Comfort, Normal and Sport settings.
Since the steering’s already too vague, why would we want to make it any lighter by engaging Comfort? And since this version of the i30 is anything but sporty, there’s little incentive to weight the wheel any differently. After all, this is no VW Golf.
We drove a series of lengthy test routes, totalling more than 500 miles. Comfort levels were generally acceptable and the car’s air conditioning proved to be fast acting and effective on an extremely hot day.
Last moan? The satnav… strange phrasing at roundabouts and some irritating directional gremlins that could have really spoilt our day had we needed to rely on the technology.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
We didn’t initially warm to the endless acres of grey that make up the i30’s interior. However, space was reasonable in the cabin (accommodating three adults in the rear for any length of time would probably end in tears, mind you) and at 378 litres, very decent in the boot – that’s more than the Ford Focus. Even more impressive is that you can quadruple the luggage space by flattening the rear seats – a simple task which frees up a total of more than 1300 litres.
Driver comfort, as already observed, was adequate, but there was a sense of being squashed in by the low roof. Any driver much over six feet in height might find this too restricting.
A final word about dashboard visibility. The two main dials were easy enough to read, but the fuel and temperature gauges were too small.
The Hyundai i30 has been awarded five stars by Euro NCAP, scoring 90 per cent in both the adult and child occupant protection categories. Six airbags assist in providing all-round crash protection, and come as standard on all models. Choose Premium trim if you want a driver’s knee bag. Active safety features include Hill Assist and automatic flashing hazard lights for urgent stops.
The i30 family includes five different levels of trim, but even the most basic model benefits from generous levels of equipment. S trim models have air conditioning, keyless entry, Bluetooth and USB socket. Our version, the SE Nav, came with rear parking sensors, leather-trimmed steering wheel, touchscreen satnav and rear view camera. Choose Premium and you get a stop/start button and 17-inch alloys.
Prices are keen across the range, and don’t forget the peace of mind that comes with a five-year warranty. The 1.4-litre petrol S version starts the range at £15,195; its diesel counterpart weighs in at £17,195. The 1.6-litre diesel SE, at £18,495, looks an interesting proposition, especially as it emits only 94g/km of CO2. For Premium spec you’ll spend £20,295 for the 1.6-litre petrol version or £22,295 for the diesel.
We liked how the V70’s performance only drained the fuel tank slowly.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: £16,495 as tested
Performance: 0-60mph in 13.2 seconds
Economy: 47.1mpg combined
Insurance: Group 7
Tax: Band E (£130)
Figures for the i30 5DR SE NAV 1.4 100PS.