We put Hyundai’s popular i30 hatchback to the test to find out how the VW Golf rival stacks up.
This is Hyundai’s contender in the incredibly competitive hatchback market, designed to give the South Korean manufacturer a chance against the likes of the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
More appealing styling, a range of new engines and the addition of an optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox kick off the changes in the updated i30. Together, they make for a car that is more refined, more comfortable and more economical than its predecessor.
Looks & Image
While there is no denying that this new, facelifted version of the i30 is rather handsome, it’s not about to start any design revolutions or see a horde of copycats trailing in its wake. This is a car that simply looks nice, if a little forgettable, when parked on the driveway.
In the cabin, a similar sort of trend continues. Everything is laid out to maximise practicality and ease of use, rather than wow its occupants. That being said, this is supposed to be an accessible and affordable car, so the odd scratchy plastic surface is excused.
As you would expect from a manufacturer such as Hyundai, everything inside feels as though it has been well put together, with no annoying rattles or creaks to report. While the interior may not match the likes of a well-specced Volkswagen Golf in terms of premium image, this is a car that prides function over form.
Space & Practicality
If abundant boot space is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. The i30 is one of the best in its class in this department, serving up a generous 378 litres of space with the rear seats up. That’s 62 litres more than the Ford Focus, and only two litres shy of the VW Golf – certainly not a bad effort on Hyundai’s part. Fold the back seats down and this will expand to 1,316 litres.
Up front, there are plenty of cubby holes and storage spaces for stashing away any rogue items, and the seats provide the driver and front passenger with a good level of comfort and support.
In the rear, taller adults will find plenty of legroom even with the front seats set to accommodate individuals of a loftier disposition. Headroom is decent, and middle passengers will have somewhere to put their feet, thanks to an almost flat floor.
Behind the Wheel
The i30 is by no means a car that inspires a flood of emotions or excitement when you get behind the wheel. Its light, if not a little dull, steering makes it an easy car to navigate around town, and the 1.6-litre, 109bhp turbodiesel engine provides more than enough low-down grunt to ensure you don’t hold anyone up when pulling away from the lights.
On the motorway, a fair amount of tyre noise does make its way into the cabin, but not so much that it becomes a major issue. It can, however, make the commands from the satellite navigation a little hard to hear at times.
The i30’s engine is far from unrefined, providing smooth acceleration off the line. While it is obviously a diesel, it is fairly quiet and shouldn’t give buyers too much cause for concern in terms of intrusiveness. The seven-speed
dual-clutch transmission is smooth, but does eat into fuel economy when compared with the manual.
Value for Money
Prices for the SE Nav trim i30 start at £20,895. This figure gets you plenty of kit as standard, including a touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, a reversing camera and parking sensors as well as sporty-looking 16-inch alloy wheels. Considering a similarly specced Ford Focus will set you back around £22,000, the i30 makes a good case for itself.
The i30’s frugal diesel engine is capable of a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 67.3mpg, meaning you should save a wee bit of cash at the pumps. Low CO2 emissions of 109g/km mean you will also only pay £20 per year in vehicle excise duty, making the i30 a fairly cheap car to run.
To top it all off, Hyundai will throw in a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, which includes five years’ roadside assistance and five years of annual vehicle servicing with every new car purchased.
Who would buy one ?
The Hyundai i30 is likely to appeal to anyone looking for a reasonably priced, economical family hatchback, but may not be placing too much emphasis on driving excitement. This is a capable daily driver, and will certainly handle anything a modern family throws at it.
Facts at a Glance
Model: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi 110PS BlueDrive SE Nav Engine: 1.6-litre turbodiesel producing 109bhp Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic Performance: Top speed 115mph, 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds Economy: 67.3mpg combined Emissions: 109g/km