First Drive Review: Hyundai i30

Independent review by Maxine Ashford

5-minute read

Red Hyundai i30 Exterior Front Driving

First Drive: Hyundai i30

Explore the key features of the Hyundai i30 in our expert first drive review

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The new i30 is sure to be a great alternative to already popular rivals, with its fashionable looks and long list of equipment to choose from.


  • Good to drive
  • Useful levels of practicality
  • Sleek design
  • Good value for money
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Taking on the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf is no mean feat, but Hyundai has certainly raised its game with the launch of its latest i30 model.

It's a car which looks sharp, is packed with technology, and is very competitively priced.

The Korean company describes the third generation i30 as ‘a car for everyone’ which, despite being quite a sweeping statement, is very accurate on so many counts.

That’s because there's a choice of engines and trim levels that have their very own feel and character.

The Hyundai i30 received a facelift in 2020, bringing with it a range of updates. A pre-facelift version was tested during this review.

Design and Practicality

The new i30 has a fresh, modern design with a distinctive cascading grille with chrome-plated dots for a stylish appearance.

A lower front bumper helps achieve a wider-looking stance, and the sweeping headlight clusters also include LED daytime running lights.

There's a black rear spoiler to add some dynamic flair, and the wide rear end helps to convey a muscular stance. The optional panoramic sunroof completes the look.

Comfort levels within the new i30 are high for all occupants, with ample space for at least two adults to stretch out in the rear. And the storage options are impressive too with a glovebox, door pockets, a central bin, sunglasses holder, cup holders, handy trays and a boot capacity that sees off most rivals.

It can hold 395 litres of goodies – a capacity that increases to 1,301 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.

All i30s come with Hyundai’s impressive 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty and all models also boast a comprehensive list of safety specifications, ensuring it achieved the maximum 5-star safety rating when put through Euro NCAP's test procedures.

Equipment and Technology

The interior is modern, elegant, and neatly laid out with lots of on-board technology to be explored.
Maxine Ashford

There are all the connectivity facilities you could wish for with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging, Bluetooth, and USB points.

The 8-inch touchscreen is now free floating so information such as sat nav instructions are easier to see with just a single glance, and the sound system is also of a high standard.

In addition, there are heated or cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors, climate control and, depending on the model, electrically-adjustable seats and leather upholstery.

Safety kit includes lane departure and forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, hill start assist, numerous airbags and smart high beam assist. The higher Premium and Premium Nav grades also feature blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.

Engines and Driving Experience

When it comes to powertrains, there's a good choice for customers with two petrol engines – a 3-cylinder 1.0-litre 118bhp and a 1.4-litre 138bhp – plus a 1.6-litre 108bhp diesel model.

All cars are available with a manual gearbox, and the 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre models can be fitted with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

We tried out the range of cars on sweeping country lanes, dual carriageways and in stop/start town centres in beautiful Cornwall, and they all have their own identity and appeal.

First up was the 1.6-litre diesel in Premium trim. This car has a 0 to 62mph sprint time of 11.0 seconds, tops out at 118mph and can deliver combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg with carbon emission of 99g/km.

In fairness, this is the sensible member of the family. It’s economical, very practical, spacious, and comfortable, plus the engine has ample gusto.

The 6-speed gearbox is smooth and responsive, and this car is the ideal model for anyone who clocks up the long motorway miles and wants to see good economy along the way.

Road-holding is assured and although there's some engine noise when pushed hard, the car is generally fairly quiet.

Next up was the 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol car in SE Nav. This car can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.1 seconds. It topped out at 118mph and could achieve 56.5mpg on a combined run with CO2 emissions of 115g/km.

There was a time when the thought of a 3-cylinder engine was dismissed pretty swiftly. But those days are long gone. It's the power output that determines the car’s performance, rather than the capacity, and with 118bhp at its disposal, this car has fun factor written all over it.

It felt much lighter than the first car we tried and fizzed around the lanes in Cornwall where the i30 was launched.

The acceleration is sharper and the all-round driving experience is more for driving enthusiasts who like a lively response. The engine tends to scream if pushed really hard, but generally this car is a delight to drive.

Finally, we tried the 1.4-litre petrol model in Premium specification. This car can go from 0 to 62mph in 8.9 seconds, has a top speed of 130mph, with combined fuel efficiency of 52.3mpg and carbon emission of 124g/km.

Like the little 3-cylinder car, this petrol model is a thrill to drive.

Once again, the response is far quicker than the diesel counterpart, but the economy is not so impressive.

The road-holding is very assured, the acceleration is smooth and responsive and steep inclines are easily dealt with. It’s the highest performing car of the line-up and will certainly get from A to B in the fastest time (excluding the sporty i30 N, that is).

I also managed a short run out in a pre-production model fitted with the automatic box and whilst the length of time behind the wheel was limited, the DCT box did seem very smooth. The gear changes were slick and there was always ample power to overtake slower moving vehicles at short notice.


The Hyundai i30 comes in many guises and each has its own character. Whether it’s a sensible, economical diesel car you are looking for or a more entertaining petrol derivative, the i30 is certainly worth a look.

Good levels of practicality, plenty of kit, and an impressive safety rating are welcomed features of the i30, and it's a car that's sure to be a popular choice within the highly competitive hatchback segment.