Hyundai i30 1.4 Style
Hyundai's i30 has been designed for European tastes and this shows in the car's exterior design
- Good-looking exterior design
- Pleasant and roomy cabin for a compact hatchback
- Entry-level 1.4-litre petrol engine surprisingly competent and refined
- Good levels of standard equipment offered
- Blue backlighting can make some displays hard to read in direct sunlight
- Leather upholstery on flagship variant not convincing
- Boot is a little shallow
- A little headroom is sacrificed when the car comes with a sunroof
A maker once famous for producing low quality and uninspiring cars, Hyundai is now a company keen to make serious inroads into Europe. Like other companies in its position, it's found that the best way to win over buyers is to develop cars specifically for European tastes - be it design, equipment levels or ride and handling. One such product of this approach is the i30 compact hatchback.
It's probably no more than a coincidence that, in profile, the i30 looks a little like BMW's 1 Series. However, the car's distinctly European appearance is no stroke of luck. Designed for European buyers, Hyundai's compact hatch is devoid of the quirks that often shaped previous offerings.
Smooth lines coupled with a spacious and well built cabin are proof that Hyundai is serious about stealing sales from the established players. Granted, it won't happen overnight, but when the firm's completely new product line becomes established, it hopes that buyers will be tempted by a clever combination of value for money, generous warranty and a long list of standard equipment.
For now the i30 inhabits the lower end of the compact family hatch sector. This isn't a criticism but a fact. In its favour is that aforementioned long list of standard kit, plus a genuinely appealing set of features. From six airbags and ESP to an iPod connector as standard, Hyundai has sought to side step gimmicks and include items that will appeal directly to the cost conscious buyer.
This is also evident in the i30's engine range. There isn't a wide choice of capacities on offer, but the basics are covered: 1.4 and 1.6 petrol plus 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels. Interestingly, the 1.6-litre diesel can be had with an auto box - a rarity in this sector. True to form, Hyundai has again delivered exactly what sensible buyers will be looking for.
Our verdict on the Hyundai i30 1.4 Style
A noticeable and pleasingly refreshing offering from Hyundai, the company's i30 compact hatchback is exactly the kind of car that's required in the cost-sensitive small family sector. Stylish enough to deflect criticism, built to European quality standards and equipped to a level that embarrasses the established players, there's no apparent catch. Factor in a five-year warranty plus modest asking prices and the i30 deserves a favourable future.
Boasting a modest price tag and a range of fuel efficient engines, the i30 is unlikely to cost much to run. Looking ahead, there's also Hyundai's five-year warranty as an added potential money saver. Factor in a generous amount of standard equipment and the i30 is a high value for money package.
Space and practicality
For a compact hatch, the i30 proves to be a spacious and versatile car. Head and legroom is good at the front and more than adequate at the rear despite the pronounced sloping roofline. Oddment storage space is good, especially in the capacious front armrest cubby. At the rear the car's seats split and fold to increase bootspace. This is a good thing as the boot is a little shallow, although width is not in question.
Controls and display
In general there's little wrong with the i30's various controls and displays. The car's switchgear feels solid and is logically placed around the fascia. The audio unit is placed high up and proves easy to navigate and the car's main dials are clear and easy to ready. Only the choice of blue backlighting detracts from an otherwise sensible design policy - the various displays can prove difficult to read when bathed in sunlight.
Ride comfort is surprisingly good in the i30 - patchy quality urban roads pose no problems and high speed motorway running fails to unsettle the compact Hyundai. Road and engine noise has been kept to a pleasing minimum, with the 1.6 diesel particularly quiet even when revved hard. In the cabin, the seats are supportive and there's little chance of banging elbows with fellow occupants.
Although not a high value car in real terms, you're well served in the security department with remote central locking, auto locking when on the move, deadlocks and an immobiliser. The only thing left to add would be an aftermarket visible steering lock for added peace of mind.
For all the i30's low cost status safety hasn't been compromised. In an unusual but welcome move, ESP is standard on all cars. This plus the inclusion of six airbags, again across the entire range, and Isofix child seat mounting points along with a tyre pressure warning system for Style specification and above is proof that Hyundai is serious about its push into the quality family hatch market.
While not promoted as a driver's car, the i30 is surprising rewarding to drive. The car's steering is weighty and delivers a decent amount of feedback, the manual gearshift is slick and positive and ride quality is good. Feeling supple under normal conditions the i30's suspension does a good job over a range of surfaces. On the engine front, the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol unit proves more than adequate and exceptionally refined, while the 1.6-litre diesel is willing, powerful and also refined. Unusually it can be had with an auto gearbox. Power users should note that there's also a 2.0-litre diesel option.
Family car appeal
For a growing family on a budget, it's hard to find a downside to the i30. The car's cabin is spacious, the materials used look and feel durable plus there's enough storage space for oddments. The car's boot is a little shallow, but the load lip is at a convenient height and the rear seats fold to increase the space available.
First car appeal
With slick, easy to use controls, an attractive asking price, compact dimensions and a range of modest engines, there's little to fault the i30. Running costs - fuel and insurance, - should be modest, making this Hyundai a smart choice if you need a first car and want something more practical than a budget supermini.
Quality and image
Image-wise Hyundai has suffered in the past, largely as a result of an unappealing product range. Recent years have seen this situation gradually change, and with the i30 targeted specifically at European buyers the company's fortunes should improve dramatically. At present, the i30 is certainly a step up over previous compact Hyundais; cabin materials, build quality, looks and the overall experience are all impressive.
Front seat occupants will have no trouble getting in and out of the i30. The doors open wide and the seats are at a sensible height. The same is true at the rear although, understandably, the door aperture isn't quite as generous. Further back, the tailgate requires little effort to raise and lower.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The i30's basic set-up is a good one, and comes with a solid set of features. Along with the expected radio and CD options, even the entry-level Comfort-spec cars gain USB and iPod connectors, with the latter being controlled from the main audio unit. There are also basic controls located on the steering wheel. The only slight gripe is the use of blue backlighting for the central display, which can be difficult to read in direct sunlight.
Colours and trim
Unusually both bright and more sombre colours suit the i30. The car's clean, fuss-free exterior ensures that it's difficult to go wrong when choosing an exterior colour. Inside, the cabin boasts a pleasing mix of dark and bright materials in a bid to boost the ambience. Fashionable touches such as brightwork around the fascia look good also.
Visibility fore and aft is good with the i30. The driving position has plenty of adjustment, which should assist shorter drivers. Thanks to the car's relatively upright tailgate, estimating its proximity to other objects isn't difficult, while Premium-spec cars gain rear parking sensors. For the driver, the i30's controls - steering, throttle, clutch - prove light and easy to use at parking speeds.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre (108bhp); 1.6-litre (120bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (113bhp); 2.0-litre (138bhp). Transmission options: standard issue is a five-speed manual gearbox, with six-speed manual gearbox for 2.0 diesel. Auto gearbox available for 1.6 petrol and 1.6 diesel models. Trim levels: Comfort, Style, Premium - latter not available with 1.4 engine.
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