We’ve had the new Hyundai i30 in for review complete with Hyundai’s 1.4 litre 140 PS engine and mid-ranking SE Nav trim. IS the i30 a match for the competition?
The last Hyundai i30 was the car that had VW’s then boss scratching his head about how it could be so good at the price, and a car that established Hyundai as a real mainstream rival, rather than a company which sells on price alone.
So when the new i30 arrived at the Paris Motor Show in 2016, Hyundai knew it had to be good to continue what the previous model had done; it had to be a proper mainstream leader right out of the gate.
What Hyundai did was to err on the side of caution, and they delivered a new i30 which looked both familiar and new. Familiar because it still looked like an i30, but familiar too because it looked quite a bit like a combination of other cars.
That’s actually no bad thing for a car aimed at relatively conservative buyers, buyers who want to be with the mainstream, are sensible, care about a long warranty and don’t want to stand out from the crowd.
Hyundai delivered that in spades, but does that make the latest i30 boring, or very clever?
We’ve got the mid-range Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi SE Nav in to find out.
Hyundai i30 SE Nav Inside and Out
The exterior of the i30 is appealing, but appealing in a very understated way. It may be a Korean car maker, but this is clearly a European design, designed to appeal to quiet car users across the continent.
The Hyundai grill at the front is flanked by swept back headlights, the contours on the flanks add interest and the back end is almost estate-like. It’s competent and non-threatening, with a planted stance. It’s crisp and good looking.
Inside it’s a step up in quality from the previous i30, with better quality materials and the scratchy stuff limited to places you have to search for.
It’s not a flash interior, but it does have class – in a very grown up, mainstream way.
There’s a decent size infotainment screen atop the dash which does its job well (although it could do with more modern graphics), there’s room in the front and back for proper sized people, the seats are comfy and supportive and there’s plenty of toys, even in this mid-range SE Nav model.
There’s Climate, Auto Lights, Auto High Beam, Cruise, Electric Heated Folding Mirrors, Electric Windows, Rear Parking Sensors and Camera and Sat Nav.
Technology includes Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, DAB, Wireless Phone Charging, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Hills Start and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Assist,
Under the bonnet of this new i30 sits an engine which really should be the choice for buyers, although it probably won’t be.
It’s a 1.4 T-GDi, which means a lively, quiet, petrol engine with enough boost to keep it where you want it to be almost all the time. It seems quiet and refined and suits the i30 perfectly. A perfect antidote to the fading diesel obsession.
That good little engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with sensible ratios which does its job without fuss or drama.
The torque kicks in at 1500 revs and makes the i30 feel more lively than its headline 8.9 seconds to 62mph suggests.
What helps the refined feel of the i30 is a proper multi-link rear suspension, which makes the i30 both comfortable and quite chuckable; it managed bends with real alacrity even when pushing on, and although it’s not at the cutting edge of handling, it responds well and there’s enough feel in the steering to know what’s going on.
It’s very well judged.
It’s a testament to Hyundai’s progress in recent years that expectations are so high for the latest i30.
So instead of declaring the i30 a budget option to mainstream stuff like the VW Golf and Ford Focus, the question now is whether it’s better than the competition. And the answer is yes. And no.
Hyundai are very good at building cars to satisfy their target market. And the i30 is as good an example of this as any other Hyundai.
Hyundai’s buyers – and those Hyundai want to attract to the brand – are looking for a car that’s quiet, comfortable, good-looking, well-built, easy to drive and comes with a decent spec. And the i30 delivers.
It is remarkably quiet, especially on motorways, will swallow up back roads with ease, has a familiar modern styling and simply does everything you need it to. The cabin is also roomy and has a decent amount of space in the boot too.
Is the i30 the last word in driving dynamics? No. Is it the cheapest in its class. No to that too.
But the i30 does offer an unbeatable combination of abilities for the huge amount car buyers who are looking for a car that simply suits their lifestyle, whether that’s running the kids to school, doing errands or travelling up and down motorways.
So yes, in some ways the i30 is a little bland, it’s not as dynamic as some of the competition and the interior is solid and grown-up, and not funky and cool.
But that’s exactly what Hyundai’s buyers want. And the i30 doesn’t disappoint.
Hyundai i30 SE Nav Photo Gallery
2017 Hyundai i30 SE Nav Tech Specs
- Engine: 1353cc, 138bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 8.9 seconds / Top Speed 130mph
- Economy: 52.3mpg – Official / 41.1 mpg – Test
- Emissions: 124g/km
- Price: £21,235
- Test car supplied by Hyundai UK