Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Style
i30's distinctive front end is easy on the eye
- Zippy but economical diesel engine
- Light and nimble driving experience
- Spacious interior
- Modern, dynamic styling
- Diesel engine a little clattery
- Blue interior lighting not to everyone's taste
- Awkward positioning of central air vents
- Some plastics feel a little thin
The i30 hatchback was the first the new i-prefix models to be launched by Korean manufacturer Hyundai, and is now followed by an estate variant. The estate version takes a traditional approach, adding a more spacious rear end to a slightly extended hatchback platform to create a more practical family car.
The new generation of Hyundai models are an all-out attempt by the manufacturer to earn itself a place at the heart of the European market. Despite being one of the world's largest producers of cars, Hyundai has traditionally been perceived as a manufacturer of lesser quality, affordable models in Europe. While it has no plans to change the public perception of it as a producer of competitively priced cars, Hyundai is keen to raise the profile of its products and ensure that it's known for quality, as well as affordability.
Styled at Hyundai's new European design centre and ultimately to be built, along with the i30 hatchback model, at Hyundai's Czech based plant, the i30 Estate is a thoroughly European car. Contemporary looks have been combined with much improved build quality and materials to produce a car to compete with the established C-segment order.
Further indications of the thought that has gone into the i30 Estate can be found in the differences between it and the hatchback. Taller by 50mm and longer by a whopping 230mm, the i30 Estate also benefits from an extended wheelbase, lengthened by 90mm, affording additional room for rear passengers and greater load carrying potential.
Unlike the hatchback, which features a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines, the i30 Estate is only available with a single petrol and a single diesel option, both 1.6-litre units. The diesel in particular is well suited to the role, offering excellent fuel economy alongside acceptably sprightly performance. The changes to the body and chassis have failed to detract from the i30's competent handling either, and the Estate feels assured and stable on the road.
Our verdict on the Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Style
The i30 Estate is a highly respectable attempt to raise its game from Hyundai, and buyers of C-Segment estate models will be foolish to overlook it. The range of engines available is not as comprehensive as some manufacturers', but both petrol and diesel units should be capable and efficient. Build quality is on a par with the big sellers and the styling is more attractive than the established opposition in some cases.
Very competitively priced, the i30 Estate also manages to squeeze reasonable performance from its small and frugal diesel engine making it very cost effective. Insurance premiums will not be high and the five-year unlimited mileage warranty is among the best in its class.
Space and practicality
A particularly spacious cabin, the i30 will not feel cramped even with all five seats occupied. Legroom is adequate for rear passengers and headroom is good all round. The estate boot is a good size and folding the rear seats flat offers up even more load space. The diesel unit is strong enough to pull bulky loads without the performance or economy suffering unduly.
Controls and display
The blue-lit dials of the i30 won't be to everyone's taste, but there's little denying they offer an impressive spectacle. The instrumentation itself is well laid out and easy to read, with buttons clearly marked and within easy reach. The central vents are in a strange position however, with the right hand example seeming to persistently blow onto the driver's hand even when pointed away creating either very cold or very warm fingers.
Although the diesel unit is a little clattery at tickover, it soon settles down to an acceptable hum on the motorway. Wind and road noise are effectively dealt with and the i30's ride is as good as anything in its class. The seats feel a little firm but are far from uncomfortable, and a fully adjustable steering column means the driver will have little trouble finding a position to suit.
A rear luggage cover and lockable glovebox will help keep unwanted visitors from viewing the i30's contents and they'll also be kept out by remote central locking with deadlocks, an alarm and immobiliser and speed activated door locking.
The i30 is well specified in terms of safety with active systems including traction control, electronic brake assist, ESP, active front head rests and tyre pressure monitoring on the Style trim level. Driver and front passenger front, side and curtain airbags are also standard.
The i30's taught and responsive chassis combines well with the enthusiastic 1.6-litre diesel engine to create a car that's both relaxing and enjoyable to drive. In diesel form, the i30 doesn't need to be worked particularly hard to find the performance and nicely weighted controls are effortless to use. The brakes are very sharp and the engine pulls briskly with little evidence of lag.
Family car appeal
As a family car, the Hyundai i30 ticks all the boxes. Spacious, practical, respectable, well built and affordable it adds an additional dimension to the competitive compact family estate sector. Families with very young children will find there's plenty of room to manoeuvre child seats in the rear and the boot should easily carry a pushchair. The rear bench will comfortably seat three older children too, without too many squabbles over elbowroom.
First car appeal
Offering practicality, value for money, an easy driving experience and contemporary looks the i30 makes quite a sensible choice as a first car. But younger drivers without families will also find these qualities in the Hyundai i10, which is probably a smarter choice for the inexperienced driver.
Quality and image
The i30 will do much to improve Hyundai's image. The car is as solidly built and as refined as anything in its class and price bracket. Some of the interior plastics still feel a little cheap, but the thought and investment that has been put into improving the interiors and exterior design is very evident. Although failing to ooze kerb appeal, the i30 can certainly hold its own against similarly sized family cars in the looks department.
There are no issues with access to the i30. All five doors offer generously sized portals to the interior and open to a wide angle. The boot floor is low, wide and level with hardly any lip, making it easy to slide large or cumbersome items into the rear.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The CD and radio sound system in the i30 has connections for auxiliary equipment and iPods as well as a USB port that allows audio to be played directly from a memory stick. The sound quality of the six-speaker system will not disappoint and the controls are neatly integrated and very easy to navigate.
Colours and trim
Black is the only interior colour available for the i30 Estate, fortunately there's more choice to be had for the exterior with red, silver, grey and blue also available. The interior trim is significantly more lavish than Hyundais of old, and the Style trim level gets part leather seats, leather gear knob and steering wheel.
The i30's steering weight is perfect for town driving, making parking manoeuvres effortless. There's good visibility from the large glass area and the mirrors offer a good view to the sides. Reversing sensors are standard on the Premium version, but with good visibility and a flat rear end there should be little need for them.
Space saver spare fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.6-litre (124bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (113bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, four-speed automatic gearbox (Style trim level only). Trim levels: Comfort, Style, Premium.
Ford Focus Market leader handles well and looks good in estate form
Vauxhall Astra Plasticy interior and less handsome as an estate, but still a big seller
Volkswagen Golf Strong build quality with impressive engines
Kia Ceed Station Wagon offers excellent value for money, too