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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Hyundai i30

Overall verdict
A very rational car in standard form, which will make your life easy, but not exciting. The i30 N hot hatch manages to make it easy AND exciting. It's ace


The regular i30 is comfy and easygoing. The i30 N is a proper hot hatch stormer


Not enough charm or fun in the standard car


What is it?

This is the new Hyundai i30. It’s the third generation of i30 to land since 2007, with Hyundai renewing its Ford Focus and VW Golf rival at a quicker rate than rivals.

It’s described as the Korean company’s ‘DNA car’, and the backbone of its range. Though while its badge hails from the far east, it’s far better to think of this as a European car. It’s designed and built in Europe, and has even put in several hundred laps of the Nürburgring during its development. Which goes part way to explain why the hot hatch version is called the i30 N…

The regular i30 is an entirely rational rival to the multitudinous Focus-sized hatchbacks you can buy. To help it stand out, it starts below £17,000, comes with a five-year warranty and, if Hyundai is to be believed, boasts some very sporty styling. Aesthetics are entirely subjective, of course, and you’ll know what you make of the i30’s ‘cascading grille’ and ‘solid stance’. But Hyundai says design is now the number one reason for buyers to choose cars like this. We’d argue that by styling it to fit in with the European hatchback set, the latest i30 blends in a bit too much.

The regular i30 comes with three engines at launch, all of them turbocharged. There’s a 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, with 108bhp, and two petrols. The smoother and more powerful is a 138bhp 1.4-litre four-cylinder, the cleaner and more interesting a 118bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder. The four-cylinder engines come with the option of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox; the three-cylinder is manual-only.

There’s plentiful technology available. The full gamut of active safety tech is on offer – lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring – while you can have a nice large 8in touchscreen that displays media and sat nav. You have to pay, mind. While a simple 1.0 i30 kicks off at £16,995, you’ll be paying nearly £20k to get the larger touchscreen and over £22k for the clever safety stuff. The cheapest automatic, meanwhile, is £21,395. If you’d not noticed by now, Hyundai is no longer a budget option. It tackles the big boys head-on.

Which explains the existence of the simply marvellous i30 N hot hatchback. Designed as a rival to the VW Golf GTI, it gets closer to a Honda Civic Type R in terms of excitement. You can read our full review of the Hyundai i30 N here, but in brief, it offers up to 271bhp and starts at £24,995. It loses none of the company’s bargain credentials yet still majors on fun. The five-year warranty remains, and even covers trackdays…

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
2.0T GDI N Performance 5dr
6.1s 178g/km 36.2 275 £28,610
The cheapest
1.0T GDI Blue Drive S 5dr
11.1s 126g/km 52.3 120 £16,905
The greenest
1.6 CRDi Blue Drive Premium 5dr DCT
11.2s 107g/km 68.9 110 £23,685
Continue: Driving