Comfy and easygoing. Practical, economical, good infotainment
Not enough charm or fun in the standard car
What is it?
This is the Hyundai i30, now in its third generation since 2007 and recently updated for 2020/21.
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 better to think of the i30 as a European car. It’s designed and built in Europe, and 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 i30N (for Nürburgring, obviously).
The regular i30 is an entirely rational rival to the multitudinous Focus-sized hatchbacks you can buy. Besides a five-door hatchback, it’s also available as an estate (Hyundai calls it the i30 Tourer) and Mercedes CLA-style saloon-cum-coupe called the i30 Fastback.
Not including the i30N hot hatch (its review is hidden behind these blue words), there are three engines to choose from. All of them are turbocharged and, since the i30’s most recent facelift, have a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.
The 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine offers up 134bhp and almost 60mpg, but most people will rightly choose the 1.0-litre three-cylinder 118bhp petrol instead. The sporty-looking i30 N-Line – all the looks of the i30N, but none of the performance – comes with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol with 158bhp. All engines are available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Besides updated engines and revised interior and exterior styling, the 2020 facelift adds new safety tech and infotainment. Among other things, the latest version of Hyundai’s ‘SmartSense’ suite of safety systems helps keep the i30 centred in its lane, can slam on the anchors if it thinks you’re going to drive or reverse into something and bongs if you don’t notice when the car ahead of you at the lights sets off.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Want a hatchback that’s simple to drive, cheap to run and with the peace of mind of a nice chunky warranty? The Hyundai i30, updated for 2020/21, should fall right into your crosshairs. It’s a sensible and rational rival to the class establishment, but then it’s priced right against them, too.
If you want an emotional connection from your car, or a driving experience that does more than cosset you and keep you comfortable, we’d suggest looking elsewhere, namely the Ford Focus, Seat Leon and Mazda 3 we mentioned earlier in the review. The regular i30 isn’t a car that’ll put an improbable smile upon your face.