Hyundai I30 2.0T GDI N Drive N 5DR DCT
The i30 is as refined and effortless to drive as you’d wish a car like this to be. It makes light work of any road, no matter how fast or challenging.
If you’re reading between the lines and concluding that’s slightly faint praise, then you’d be right. The i30 is also a bit charmless to drive, and you’re rarely compelled to dig beneath its smooth surface. When you do, you find a car with plenty of grip but few rewards. The i30 N-Line gets different steering and suspension setups to try and make it feel more sporty. And while it is more fun than the standard car, it’s still not as enjoyable as it could be.
But that’s fine. If you’re in the market for something genuinely fun to drive, buy a Ford Focus, Seat Leon or Mazda 3. If you want something that’s uncommonly refined, the i30 might just fit the bill. We haven’t tried the diesel yet, but both the petrols are quiet and refined at a cruise.
Our preference is the 1.0-litre, with its characteristic (but well supressed) three-cylinder thrum. It’s got enough power for the day-to-day and is pretty economical, thanks in part to the 48-volt mild-hybrid system and clever six-speed ‘Intelligent Manual Transmission’, which can decouple the engine from the transmission when you’re coasting to save fuel.
Usually this kind of tech is only offered on cars with automatic gearboxes. It’s very clever in principle and is smooth and unobtrusive in practice, even if the clutch pedal never really feels like it’s connected to anything. Setting off smoothly and swiftly takes a bit of practice. Auto rev-matching downshifts in Sport mode are a nice touch.
The 1.5-litre petrol is only available in conjunction with N-Line trim. It’s a quiet and relatively refined engine, even at high revs. Doesn’t sound awful either. Performance is adequate, nothing more. We tried this one with the seven-speed auto – gearchanges are smooth and swift, but like a lot of autos nowadays it’s hesitant off the mark (which is especially frustrating at busy junctions and roundabouts), eager to change into higher gears and a bit reluctant to kickdown unless you bury the throttle in the bulkhead.
All i30s, regardless of engine and transmission, have the 48-volt mild-hybrid tech.
Of course our ACTUAL preference is the i30N. Forget 'charmless' and 'effortless'; here's a proper Premier League hot hatch you'll relish grabbing by the scruff of its neck and having an absolute riot in. Make no mistake that Hyundai's first proper hot hatch is among the best in class. Its sense of fun is night-and-day different to the unfailingly sensible car it's based upon. Click here to read the review.
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