• Good driving manners; all models well equipped; quality; smart, spacious and practical interior; five-year warranty; capped-price servicing
  • Steering not perfect and worsens with variable modes; petrol engine far from class-leading; new model only a good step forward rather than a big leap

8 / 10

Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
by Jez Spinks

If the original Hyundai i30 was a game-changer for the South Korean brand, it’s inevitable its successor is faced with great expectations.

It was a small car that transcended Hyundai’s then limited reputation as a builder of good-value vehicles, with a well presented interior, good build quality and competent, if uninspiring, driving manners that took the challenge to Europe’s pace-setters.

There’s already something more dynamic about the second-generation Hyundai i30 that was designed by the company’s European contingent in Germany, with the hatchback’s styling morphing from a conservative shape to the more adventurous chiselled lines of the company’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ form language.

There’s a steeply raked windscreen, pronounced wheel arches, sweptback headlights, and a rising beltline that contributes to a sportier stance.

The i30’s large, hexagonal grille could also be a visual metaphor for the wave of confidence sweeping through Hyundai as it continues to pose a threat to the usual suspects chasing the No.1 Car Maker in the World mantle – Toyota, GM and Volkswagen.

The new Hyundai i30 range is similar to the original’s line-up, with three trim levels and a choice of petrol or diesel power offered.

Trim levels gain news names, though, with the former SX/SLX/SR replaced by Active, Elite and Premium to make the i30 consistent with the majority of other Hyundai models.

Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review

Pricing increases fractionally from bottom to top, with the i30 now starting at $20,990 for an Active petrol manual and the top-of-the-tree Premium diesel auto asking $32,590 – all before on-road costs are added.

All Hyundai i30 variants include seven airbags, rear sensors, Bluetooth/iPod/USB connectivity and touchscreen systems as notable standard features. The latter is a five-inch audio system in Active models and a seven-inch satellite navigation system in the mid-range Elite and range-topping Premium.

Elite models bring the likes of electric folding side mirrors, keyless push-button engine start, one-touch window operation, extendable sun visors, higher-grade steering wheel and gearlever, dual-zone climate control, rear centre armrest, rain-sensing wipers, and reverse-view camera (cleverly concealed inside the rear Hyundai badge that flips when the camera is in use).

If you want a Hyundai i30 with the lot, the Premium trim adds front seats with heating, panoramic sunroof, electronic park brake, auto-dimming rear view mirror, xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels (rather than 16s), and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat.

As with its predecessor, the new i30 has strong static showroom appeal with a smartly presented interior.

Prod the soft material of the upper dash and upper door trim, run your fingers over the high-gloss black finish of the centre stack or smooth hard plastic of the window/mirror switch surrounds, and there’s a clear sense that Hyundai has set out to imitate the segment’s benchmark cabin that’s inside the Volkswagen Golf.

Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review

Same goes for the sense of quality consideration when you depress buttons or rotate switches.

It’s also a practical cabin up front, with a deep console bin, large door bins, tray sections and a well sized glovebox – with a cleverly integrated hatch release button – ensuring the driver and front passenger won’t be left scratching around for places to stow items.

Comfort is also easy to find thanks to seats with a well judged firmness and good under-thigh support, with some decent side bolstering.

Rear passengers aren’t neglected, either. There’s good legroom and headroom (the latter restricted more if a sunroof is fitted), though toe space isn’t as generous under the seats.

The rear bench, matching the comfortable firmness of the front pews, has a deep cushion and is angled slightly upwards to help taller occupants avoid a knees-splayed sitting position.

Moulded rear door bins are divided into three sections including one for bottles.

The boot of the Active model we initially tested is deep and usefully wide, though it’s the only trim to lose out on a full-size spare wheel (there’s a temporary spare instead). It also misses the cargo net of the Elite and Premium models.

Seatbacks fold with the conventional 60:40 ratio and collapse into a fully flat position once the cushions are pulled forward to rest vertically in the footwell.

Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review
Hyundai i30 Review

The Hyundai i30 continues with a torsion beam rear suspension compared with the multi-link set-ups used to great effect by the likes of the Golf, Mazda3 and Ford Focus, though it remains the best-riding and best-handling of the company’s fleet.

The i30 copes better with small lumps and bumps than bigger hits but there is a pleasant suppleness to the ride quality.

Keen drivers will still find more reward from a Golf, Focus or Mazda3 on interesting roads, but the Hyundai hatch has closed the dynamics gap with plenty of composure and grip through bends.

It shows that Hyundai’s efforts to fine-tune the i30’s chassis in Australia have paid dividends.

The steering, too, is good – especially by the usual standards of South Korean cars.

It lacks the fluidity of a Golf, Focus or Mazda3 (yes, it’s those three cars again), but the i30’s steering is accurate and mostly free of the vagueness and inconsistent weighting that all too frequently plague Hyundais (and related Kias).

We’d be happy to give the so-called FlexSteering a miss, though. The system offers three modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport.

While there is a detectable difference between the three settings, Comfort is vague and overly light and Sport overly assisted with artificial heaviness. Just sticking with the default Normal is best.

Active Eco is another mode drivers can select but we’d skip. This retards throttle response to try to help limit fuel use, but in our opinion it’s better to ignore it and simply apply lighter pressure on the accelerator pedal if you’re concerned about consumption.

And if that’s the case, you’ll want to note that the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is the thriftier of the two engines with an official combined consumption figure of 4.5L/100km (six-speed manual) or 5.6L/100km (six-speed auto).

The petrol’s figures are 6.5L/100km (manual) and 6.9/100km (auto).

It also offers more torque (260Nm v 178Nm) and in a more useable point in the rev range than the alternative (and new) 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

Diesel variants, however, come at a small cost – a $2600 premium over the equivalent petrol model.

The petrol engine, while not offering spectacular performance, revs smoothly and is more than sufficient for its intended purpose.

The auto, when attached to either engine, also does a good job of selecting the right gear for the occasion. Only when you quickly ask more from the throttle pedal are the changes slower than ideal.

General refinement is impressive, too, and only let down from tyre rumble that can be audible whether the i30 is riding on its 16-inch or 17-inch rubber.

The Hyundai i30 doesn’t break new ground in the small-car class but the new-generation model, backed by a generous warranty and capped-price servicing, certainly solidifies its position as one of the must-see/must-test-drive hatchbacks in the market.

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Hyundai i30 Review
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  • Tarquin, Hair Artiste

    This car is a better option than the forthcoming CVT equipped Corolla.  How times have changed.  Toyota needs to do much better to compete with the i30.

    • POZZO

      That’s a good thing! It means Toyota is a competitive

      • TG

        competitive what? Make some sense, finish your sentence.

      • Latin Fish Names

        Toyota makes reliable and totally boring cars (86 Excepted).  The Corolla could have been a true Golf competitor.

  • Phil

    Review filled with contradictions as is often the case with CA write ups.

    Of note is the steering which is listed at the beginning as a bad point for being “not perfect”…. yet when you read into the review it describes the steering as “good” and “acurate”.
    Similarly, the petrol engine is listed at the beginning as a bad point as it’s apparently “far from class leading”,……yet read into the review and the petrol engine is now described as “revs smoothly and is more than sufficient for it’s intended purpose”. Plus no mention at all of how the Diesel is to drive, just a mention of it’s on paper specs?

    • Robin_Graves

      Also the old i30 had multilink rear suspension with coils. Does this newer model really have torsion beam or is that an error as well?

    • matt

      who cares? its like the fourth review of this car on this site…. bit over it guys!

    • Captain Nemo®™

       Phildo if you dislike the review so much why bother commenting?
      Why visit the CA website at all, it seems you love to have a whine.  Maybe you should just stick to the Veedud forums. 

      • Legnab

        Pot calling the kettle black mr euro basher , back in your VK .

        • Captain Nemo®™

          Dearest Bungle maybe you should learn to understand English a little better.
          My comment was referring to Phildo’s whining about the quality of the review it seems if he doesn’t agree with the author’s views he has a sook not about the car but how the story was written.    Phildo cried for days when CA gave a BMW only stars.   My comments are always about the cars not the CA reviewers.   As i said if he doesn’t like it why visit or comment i have no problem with CA’s reviewers writing style. 

          • Emelia

            The guy made the comments to provide feedback and raise issues. Phil raised some valid points and the Readers’ Comments section is clearly the relevant place to raise them. Who cares if you love every word they write. Clearly many other people are a little more discerning.

          • Phil

            Nemo, I think you need to understand english better.

            How could I agree or not agree with the author’s views when there is a clear contradiction in what the author wrote?

            Tell us Nemo, based what is written in this review , does the i30 have good steering or bad steering? Is the petrol engine good or bad?

            Also, if you don’t like my comment – why comment on my comment?

  • James

    I`d pick Ford Focus.

  • guest @ guest

    CA got too much money from Hyundai. Now if there are Korea car reviews on this website,Urm…………. Also Carsguide website

    • Poncho

      Yeah, look at all the ads.

      • TG

        What ads? Adblock Plus user here… :)

        • pixxxels

          PSA: Anyone who doesn’t have adblock by now is putting themselves through unnecessary pain and hardship. Seriously, get on it. 

    • Chow Wow

      The Korean car companies are fans of CA as there are lots of  Toyota, Ford and Holden bashers here.

  • Daniel

    I’d personally go with a Focus or Golf, but where this car really shines over the upcoming Corolla (already, before it’s even out…sad really) is that it has a six speed auto, it looks great and it’s packed with features. I want to like Toyota, but there was a time when I didn’t want to like Hyundai and they won me over with a good looking and competitive product anyway. Now I wish Toyota would step up and do the same. 

    • Jerrycan

      The Hyundai six speed auto is not nearly as efficient as it should be.
      Most other modern autos achieve fuel consumption nearly as good or better than the manuals.
      Improved fuel consumption is probably why so many Japanese car makers are going with CVT’s and German with double clutch units or eight speed equivalents . Mazda as usual are going their own way.
      Subaru’s old 4 speed unit used to claim to equal the manual for fuel consumption but I could never really understand how.
      The 6 speed autos in that other Korean brand (Holden Cruze and Captiva) is similarly disappointing.
      Yes I know the Cruze is assembled in Australia but from Korean supplied drivetrains.

      • Latin Fish Names

        I’d rather a torque converter auto any day.  I’d happy trade of a bit of efficiency with a gearbox that feels normal and does not blow up.  CVTs and DSGs do not have a great track record in reliability.

  • Phil

    Also, whilst browsing through the specification page to find the power outputs (as this review didn’t bother to mention them), CA has listed the fuel consumption of the petrol manual as 6.9L100km not the 6.5 as listed on this review page and the diesel manual as 5.6L100km not 4.5L100km.
    It seems CA specification page doesn’t bother to differentiate between auto/manual consumption figures and just uses auto figures for both.

  • LoC0

    The new Corolla looks much nicer.. And will be better then this hundee

    • Henry Toussaint

      It would be very hard for it to be better… The i30 is already pretty good

      • Noddy of Toyland

        Hahahahahaa! You would be very hard eh?

        • John

           Well, that’s what he says… But I’ve heard different.

        • Henry Toussaint

          It***I don’t mean in a sexual way….

          • Noddy of Toyland

            Sure sure champ!

  • Robin_Graves

    Why don’t they offer better engine options with a sports variant, for example a 2.0 r series from the ix-35 and 1.6 turbo from the veloster. Fair enough they need the povo pack but if they want to challenge the likes of veedud and Mazda they need beefier engine options.

    • Legnab

      Dangerous move when its handling is average , its just  average joe transport , bit like  a falcoon .

      • Robin_Graves

        A VeeDud owner who thinks he’s above everyone else.  I’ll take an ‘average Joe’ vehicle over a handgrenade any day thanks!

        • Legnab

          Well what can i say when you drive a  falcoon very average transport , taxi ! , would you like papadams with that sir .

          • Robin_Graves

            Well no-one with half a brain would use a vee-dud as a taxi, it has to actually be on the road to make money and if its pooped itself after 100k? No wonder Falcon is the choice in taxis when it easily does 750k to 1M on the original engine.

  • peddy.d

    Does anyone know if the new i30 Diesel’s have Diesel Particulate Filter Fitted? I’ve been reading the complaints about the new Mazda CX-5 diesel producing too much oil in that article on drive, and it all has to do with the car having a DPF and the majority of owners using the car for urban usage like myself and so the car is not at a great enough speed and the exhaust is not at a high enough temperature for the soot in the DPF to clear and turn into ash, with the additional diesel fuel that the ECU tells the engine to intake to burn the soot falling to the sump of the engine and causing issues. All in all if someone knows if the new i30 diesel does have a DPF that would be greatly appreciated.

    • Chow Wow

      With the small cars with the new age Euro style complex diesels ….. it’s like trying to save $0.10 in fuel. But bring in $10,000 worth of potential problems.

    • Greg Alexander

      No Peddy, it doesn’t have a DPF.

  • Dan

    You aren’t going to meet Euro IV emissions or higher without a DPF. The GD i30 has one, and has to be changed every 30,000km to avoid the backup of particulate causing engine problems down the track.

    • Greg Alexander

      A DPF is not required for Euro IV, and the i30 does NOT have one.

      • Latin Fish Names

        Thats great news, the diesel i30 is now on my shopping list.  Do you know of the i40 also does not have a DPF?

  • JamesB

    Like the Corolla, the i30 did not have a go-fast version. This new one looks the part. Slap in that turbo engine, also 4WD if you have to, and you’ve got yourself a reliable GTI.

  • Ted

    I cannot understand why the GDI petrol engine was not put in the new 130.  Overseas, the i30 is available with the GDI, and again Australia gets the basic petrol engine..  I am suspecting that next year when the new Kia Cerato is released with the GDI, then the i30 will get an upgrade some time after.  However I am in the market for a new car and not going to buy the i30 without the GDI.  I am considering the Kia Rio (SLI / SLS)), yes Rio and this is a good package, and also the Mazda 3 – SP20 when 3’s are available again (my local dealer – live in Syd, advised me the other day that Mazda 3 are now scarce because of the slight upgrade that is coming, putting in a USB and will will not be availabe for 6-8 weeks).

    • Zaccy16

      Yeah that is correct Ted. We were looking at the sp20 skyactiv luxury and the dealer said that there will be a wait. If you want the first batch with the update you put a deposit on one of the colours that they have left. Im getting a sedan in dolphin grey

      • Ted

        Hi Zaccy16, I cannot beleive that Mazda is creating a big gap in the availability of 3’s – it does not make sence.  Toyota will rub their hands together. 

    • Darex

      If it makes you feel better, they did the same to us in America, and I, too, wondered why the GDI engine wasn’t used, when every other car in their line-up now has it. It’s puzzling.

  • Zaccy16

    It is still not up to the standards of the same age or the three year old Golf and Mazda 3 but it is a improvement over the cheap last model. It is very close though. I would be worried if i was ford, mazda or VW because the next version of this might be spot on! the petrol engine is rubbish though

    • Zaccy16

      same age focus i mean

  • Luke Brinsmead

    I would almost buy one, if not for the vague steering. 

  • klowik

    I’d choose Toyota corolla or VW golf since they both have good rear visibility with the wider rear window .

  • Edward

    I glanced at one in a shopping centre and almost mistook it for a Mazda at first. But it does look good overall. Especially the rear tail-light design when the lights are on.

    However, the interior has a lot of similarities to the interior on the Veloster and Elantra. I know they need to save money, but if i had a Veloster Turbo my experience would feel a bit de-valued to find a similar interior in a humble family hatch.

    • Darex

      It’s a similar story in America. We have a somewhat stripped Veloster and i30 (aka Elantra GT) here, compared to yours; missing some of your luxe bits. Between the Veloster Turbo and i30/Elantra GT, where one has back-up sensors, they cannot be had on the other. Where one has power seats, the other cannot be had with them. Price-wise, they cost practically the same, with the i30/Elantra GT splitting the difference between the N/A Veloster, and the Veloster Turbo, more or less, but all three cars are essentially the same price. It makes choosing one over the other very difficult. I think it’d be difficult to say that one has more panache than the other.

  • Barinutku

    I have hyundai i30 1.4. yesterday while i was parking my car the two frontal airbags exploded suddenly without any hit to anywhere…. I am completely shocked, luckily I was just parking my car, I cannot imagine what would happen if the airbags exploded while I was driving 100 km/hour. 

  • Paul_sully


  • Noddy

    I took delivery of an 2013 i30 Premium this morning and absolutely love it. There’s not much more I would like or need in a modern car. My first choice of new car was a Corolla, having had five Corolla’s in the last twenty five years, however the new Corolla did not cut it. I came very close to buying the new Pulsar Ti, which is also an incredibly nice car, but could not convince myself to like the CVT transmission – it’s just weird, particularly when going up and down hills. I highly recommend the i30 – it’s excellent value for money.