Safe, grown-up, low-cost family hatchback
- Low running costs
- Lots of safety kit
- Impressive petrol engines
- Quiet, refined cabin
- Improved infotainment
- Some rivals more entertaining
- Rear seats don’t fold flat
- Dull design
If you’re looking for a likeable workhorse that is practical, reliable and cheap – both to buy and run – then the 2017 Hyundai i30 should be on your shopping list.
On its march to become the largest Asian car company, the Korean firm has been working hard to improve its brand image. The i30 is a clear statement that it’s more than capable of keeping up with the Joneses in a sector of the market dominated by some of the UK’s bestselling models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
Cabin quality has leapt forward
The cabin is nicely finished, with a new ‘floating’ central touchscreen and simple design to the dashboard that makes it very easy to get used to and operate on the move.
It’s also incredibly quiet, while a choice of three engines means there’s something there to sate the financial needs of private and company car drivers in equal measure.
Automatic and manual gearboxes are on offer, and while the handling isn’t as engaging as the Astra’s or the Focus’s, it’s not far behind and feels safe and confidence-inspiring on the road, much like the VW Golf.
Lots of safety kit and practical cabin
That assuredness is accentuated by the introduction of a raft of driver assistance and safety systems, with lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking available.
These combine to bring the i30 into line with the top players in the field, while in typical Hyundai fashion the trim levels feature lots of kit as standard, which means there aren’t many optional extras to choose from.
It’s a practical car too: while it’s unable to match the Octavia’s capaciousness, it’s more than adequate with enough space for four adults and a generous and flexible boot.
The i30 also comes with Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and the firm’s reputation for building incredibly reliable cars.
So what’s not to like? For the majority of car buyers, not a huge amount. It isn’t the last word in exciting driving and the rear seats don’t fold flat, but in the main we can see great appeal here.
Hot Hyundai i30 N
While the regular i30 can be criticised for being a bit vanilla, the same can’t quite be said for the i30 N – the brand’s first proper hot hatch, producing up to 280hp from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine when fitted with the Performance Pack. There will also be a 250hp regular model, forming a choice that’s similar to that of the VW Golf GTI.
It’s taking the fight to a raft of incredibly capable, engaging and exciting hot hatchbacks, with the help of the man who used to be Vice President of Engineering at BMW’s M division. Hyundai’s not messing around.
So far we’ve only driven a pre-production prototype, but early signs are very positive indeed, with an involving driving experience that feels more than a match for some of the best in class.
The Parkers Verdict
It’s easy to overlook the i30, especially in such a crowded segment with an enormous amount of other options out there. The Hyundai is still an appealing proposition though, thanks to a generous standard kit list, frugal engines and a good drive.
Add to this a comprehensive warranty and plenty of space, and it surely deserves to be on your list of potential family hatchbacks.