Publication date: 24 February 2017
Hyundai i30

Hyundai i30

Friend to all

Review - Are cars emotions or transportation? For many it's the first: a car is a proud possession and thus looks and driving fun are paramount. For others a car is merely transportation and then it's all about functionality, safety and a fair price. Hyundai says it's found the perfect balance between those factors with the new i30.

That balance is expressed first and foremost by its looks. The i30 looks good and even attractive. At the same time it lacks a strong character and in that way the car appeals to the largest possible audience. And with that the tone is set.

Inside the fourth generation of the i30 all is modern and well groomed, but there's not a trace of originality or innovation. Focus is on functionality, which is proven by the logical design. For that necessary touch of beauty an elegant display is mounted on top of the dashboard.

Hyundai i30

Depending on the chosen trim level, the i30 is well specced or even luscious. From the base version the equipment list is impressive. The so-called "Premium" version driven here offers all the luxury and safety features currently available on a car in this segment.

A high-end audio system is not available, but even the standard stereo sounds reasonably good. As it should be, Hyundai offers support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make integration with a mobile phone easy.


The new i30 is 4 cm longer than the previous generation, but it has the same wheelbase. The extra length comes from the overhang in the front (used for a longer bonnet to improve pedestrian safety) and back (for 17 litres more boot space). As a result, the space in the front and back is average for a car of this size.

Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30

Trusted technology

For some, the introduction of the new i30 may come as a surprise. Recently Hyundai introduced the IONIQ, which opened the door to the future for a large audience. The IONIQ is only slightly larger than the i30 and thanks to its electric drive (be it with or without the aid of a hybrid engine) it is more comfortable, cleaner and cheaper to run than a traditional car.

Despite all those advantages, a large group of buyers still aren't ready for the electric car. And because the i30 is meant to be the car for every man, Hyundai still supplies proven petrol and diesel engines. Of course the carmaker does opt for the most modern technology in internal combustion.


The first engine to be tested is the 1.0 litre petrol engine, which earlier debuted in the Hyundai i20. The larger i30 proves to be no problem for this 120 PS / 171 Nm strong three-cylinder. Performance is more than adequate, although similar engines from other brands offer a bit more refinement.

It's only when the driver explicitly pushes and keeps the engine revving (shift down frequently!) that the "1.0 T-GDI" flexes its muscles. At the same time the familiar three-cylinder sound can be heard.

Hyundai i30

This suggests that Hyundai did its utmost to improve fuel economy, but in fact the low factory figures can't be realised at all (not even when taking into account the bad weather and other unfavourable circumstances during the test drive).

Hyundai i30

As an alternative for the 1.0 T-GDI, there's the newly developed 1.4 T-GDI engine and it delivers everything the smaller block lacks. Even when not speeding, it is always noticeable that the 1.4 T-GDI has a bigger reserve (242 Nm!) and that lifts the car to a higher level. When sports mode is engaged, the 1.4 T-GDI is so fierce that one has to carefully handle the throttle to prevent wheelspin at every green light.

Despite the bigger output, the fuel economy of the 1.4 litre engine was equal to that of the 1.0 litre: 7.3 litres per 100 km (39 mpg).

Hyundai i30


For business drivers there's a 1.6 litre diesel engine which, depending on the chosen version, develops either 110 or 136 PS. The 136 PS diesel convinces as a modern diesel engine that is torque strong and comfortable. Noise levels are so low that the difference with the petrol engine is hardly audible.

The diesel engine (110 and 136 PS) can be combined with an automatic gearbox ("DCT") and that turns out to be a good marriage. The dual clutch gearbox shifts unnoticeably and does so at exactly the right moment, so the driver never feels inclined to shift manually (sequential shifting is available).

Hyundai i30

The diesel engine also wasn't as frugal as Hyundai promises. On a demanding track (mountains, bad weather) and with a very calm driving style 6.4 litres per 100 km (44 mpg) was the best achievable.


Over the last few years carmakers have got even better at creating cars that are both comfortable and sporty. This means that most modern cars in this segment handle very well, and that differences in handling get smaller.

Hyundai i30

To show some character, Hyundai offers a sporty, an economic and a normal mode. The difference between these modes is clearly noticeable, where the i30 is pushy and almost aggressive in sports mode, it's comfortable in economy mode. For a car that adopts so well to every driver there's only one title: friend to all.


With the fourth generation of the Hyundai i30 there isn't much news to be reported. The concept is equal to that of the previous i30: serve the largest possible audience. The realisation is even better: (safety) features are modern, sportiness and comfort are combined even better and even the design appeals to a larger audience.

As usual, the car doesn't have any big cons, except for the fact that the low prices which made Hyundai successful aren't so low any more. The i30 offers the same quality as the competition at the same price.

There is a risk that the i30 could cbe alled "bland" or "without stamina", but instead Hyundai balances emotion and ratio even better than before.

  • Fun, pleasurable and desirable
  • Functionel, thoughtful and rational
  • Not as frugal as promised
  • Light feeling in the front