Expert Reviews

First drive: Hyundai i30

Thursday 19 January 2017

First drive: Hyundai i30

Sales-wise, Hyundai has done incredibly well in Europe lately. Off the back of this, it is now aiming to become the best-selling Asian car manufacturer on the continent within the next five years. An integral part of this strategy it the new i30, which the South Korean manufacturer hopes will help it win sales in the highly competitive C-segment.

From an aesthetic point of view, the i30 now boasts a more refined appearance. Hyundai hopes that it will be able to maintain brand loyalty amongst its customer base by focussing on function rather than form. As a result, the i30 now features plenty of safety kit as standard and a range of refined engines, as well as a pleasing ride.

The manufacturer has also introduced a new 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which is lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, and also more economical.

Looks & Image

The new i30 is soberer in its appearance than its predecessor. Considering the fact that a large number of Hyundai owners named the older model’s looks as being the deciding factor when they purchased an i30, giving the new car a more reserved look is an interesting move.

Although features such as the ‘cascading grille’ have been hyped by Hyundai’s design team, the new i30 could still be mistaken for one of its rivals rather easily – at least to the untrained eye.

Has this new approach of focusing on function rather than form worked? For the most part, it has. While there is a small handful of cheap-looking plastics here and there, such as on the door cards, these are countered by more premium materials in other places.

Space & Practicality

One aspect of the new i30 that families will find particularly appealing is the wide range of safety equipment that comes fitted as standard. Even entry-level models are treated to autonomous emergency braking with a front collision warning system, high beam assist, lane-keeping assist and a drowsy driver detection system.

Customers can also choose to specify features such as blind-spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, speed limit reader and adaptive cruise control as optional extras.

Behind the Wheel

Hyundai called upon Albert Biermann, a former BMW engineer, to iron out the i30’s driving dynamics. While they’re not going to cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up with excitement, they still deliver a pleasing driving experience.

The steering weight is spot on, the ride is supple and road noise is minimal. That said, travelling at motorway speeds does create a fair amount of wind noise, which seems to originate from the wing mirrors.

A standard-fit reversing camera means parking is never going to be too much of a chore. When paired with the optional cross traffic alert system, reversing is made that much less stressful.

Hyundai is offering the new i30 with a choice of three engines, although the 1.4-litre petrol is likely to be the most popular in the UK.

This new engine will likely be an attractive option to those who regularly drive in urban and motorway environments. It produces 138bhp, and with an economy figure of 52.3mpg (51.4 for the auto) it shouldn’t prove too costly to keep topped up with petrol. The manual gearbox would be the one to go for, as it is more responsive and not as opposed to being revved out as the dual-clutch automatic.

We were surprisingly pleased with the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol, too. Even on the motorway, the little 118bhp engine had more than enough oomph for sixth-gear overtaking manoeuvres. CO2 emissions of 115g/km and a combined economy figure of 56.5mpg should also prove to be attractive features.

Value for Money

Value for money is Hyundai’s strong suit, and as a result the new i30 comes with plenty of standard kit, especially in the safety department. The new i30 also gains a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard, while a larger eight-inch system can be specified as an option.

Who would buy one ?

The new i30 will largely appeal to young families who are looking for a car that offers space and practicality for relatively little money.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Hyundai i30

Engine tested: 1.4-litre T-GDI

Power: 138bhp

Torque: 242Nm

Max speed: 127mph (auto), 130mph (manual)

0-60mph: 9.0 seconds (auto), 8.7 seconds (manual)

MPG: 51.4 (auto), 52.3 (manual)

Emissions: 125g/km (auto), 124g/km (manual)

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