2018 Hyundai i30 Range Review

2018 Hyundai i30 Range Review

Overall Rating


4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars


5 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProComfort; performance; features.

  2. ConYou get more but you’ll pay more.

  3. The Pick: 2018 Hyundai i30 SR 4D Hatchback

What stands out?

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Hyundai’s stylish new-generation i30 hatchback is loaded with equipment, including great smartphone integration and – on more expensive versions – a broad active-safety suite that includes auto braking. Handling and comfort are good, and among three engine options is a very strong turbo-petrol.

What might bug me?

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If you have chosen one of the sportier i30s, the SR or SR Premium, driving at 80km/h on your space-saver spare wheel until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre. (All other i30s carry a full-sized alloy spare that matches the other wheels on the car.)

If you have chosen an auto-transmission i30 diesel or i30 SR, stop-start driving in city traffic. These use a dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which operates much like a manual gearbox with robotic control. It won’t give you the fluid, elastic, take-off from rest that you get with the conventional auto gearbox in other i30s.

That you can’t play CDs. Like an increasing number of popular cars, the i30 treats the Compact Disc as an obsolete technology and does not supply a player.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door hatchback only.

(Hyundai also offers a small sedan alternative to the i30, which it calls the Elantra.)

The i30 drives its front wheels, and is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features does every Hyundai i30 have?

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A sound system with AM/FM and digital (DAB+) radio receivers, Aux and iPod compatible USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and six speakers, controllable from an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.

Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display some smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice).

Cruise control. A steering wheel adjustable for height and reach, from which you can operate the cruise control, the audio system, and your phone. Height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

A reversing camera.

Headlights that switch on automatically when it’s dark, and daytime running lights illuminated by very long-lived LEDs.

Exterior mirrors that power-fold automatically against the body when you lock the car (to keep them out of harm’s way).

Either a full-sized spare wheel and tyre, or (in either i30 SR) a space-saver spare. A tyre pressure monitor, which could give you more time to get a slow puncture seen to.

Hill-start assist, which helps you take off on uphill slopes by controlling the brakes automatically.

Seven airbags. Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skid and is mandatory on new cars. (For the placement of airbags, and more on i30 safety features, please open the Safety section below.)

Every i30 carries a five-year warranty with no limit on distance travelled.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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You can choose from two petrol engines and one diesel in an i30. The most fuel-efficient is the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel available in the i30 Go, Active, Elite and Premium, which consumes 4.7 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

It is a smooth and quiet diesel and brings you relaxed cruising, but it is not particularly brisk.

One reason you might not choose this engine is that you expect to use your i30 almost exclusively for short trips around town. The diesel uses a particulate filter to trap soot from its exhaust, and every week or two you need to sustain 50km/h or more for 20 minutes so that the filter can self-clean.

A second reason is that the dual-clutch transmission supplied with the diesel is not as friendly around town as the conventional auto in petrol versions of the i30 Active.

Another reason you might not choose the diesel is that you want to pay less for your i30. The Go, Active, Elite and Premium cost less with petrol power than with the diesel.

The petrol engine available in an i30 Go, Active, Elite and Premium is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the same engine that powered the sporty SR versions of the previous-generation car. On the official test, i30s with this engine consume 7.4 litres/100km in auto form.

Finally, you might forgo the fuel-efficiency of diesel power because you want the superior performance of the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol that powers the i30 SR and SR Premium. On the official test, the 1.6 turbo petrol uses only marginally more fuel than the 2.0 petrol in the i30 Active. It feels more responsive when you first squeeze the accelerator than the 2.0 petrol, and about the same as the 2.0 diesel. But it develops a lot more thrust than either of those if you hold your foot down.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine drives through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed conventional auto. The 1.6-litre diesel is available with a six-speed manual gearbox (Active only) or a seven-speed DCT auto. The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol is available with a six-speed manual gearbox (SR only) or a seven-speed DCT auto.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly i30, the Go, comes with cloth-covered seats, manually controlled air-conditioning, 16-inch steel wheels, the 2.0-litre petrol engine, a manual gearbox, and the features in any i30.

You can spend more for an auto gearbox, in which case you get a conventional auto with its around-town friendliness. Or you could choose instead an Active diesel, with either a manual gearbox or the DCT auto.

Spend more on the Active and you gain satellite navigation that doesn’t depend on your phone, leather appointed steering wheel and gear knob, 16-inch alloy wheels, which look nicer than steel wheels and don’t need plastic trim, and rear parking sensors.

The Go and Active are now available with Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety package as an extra cost option. Priced around $1700, it adds comprising Smart cruise control, Autonomous emergency braking that works at city and highway speeds, Lane-keeping assistance, a Driver-attention alert, Blind-spot detection, and a Rear cross-traffic alert. (For more on these systems, please open the Safety section below.)

As well as SmartSense active safety, the package also brings an electronic parking brake, rear cooling/heating vents, power folding exterior mirrors with LED turn indicators, and chrome grille trim. This is a great way to up-spec a lower-priced i30 for a lot less than upgrading to a higher-spec version.

From here you have two possible paths along which to spend more on an i30. You can have the 2.0-litre petrol engine and diesel engine and more features, by choosing an i30 Elite or Premium. Or you can have a turbo-petrol engine, a sportier drive and more features, by choosing an i30 SR or SR Premium.

Choose an i30 Elite and you get a mix of leather and fake leather on the seats and steering wheel, and smart-key entry (which lets you unlock the car and drive away without handling the key). Dual-zone climate control maintains a set cabin temperature, the driver and front passenger have independent controls, and there are vents for rear passengers. Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains. Compatible smartphones can be charged wirelessly from a pad on the centre console. And the wheels are an inch bigger at 17 inches, wrapped in wider tyres with a lower profile (for more dry grip and a sportier look).

The i30 Elite also brings you Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety as standard.

Paying more for an i30 Premium brings you, in addition, heating and ventilation for both front seats, a power-adjustable seat for the driver, and a 7-speaker Infinity premium audio system with external amplifier. There is a power-opening glass sunroof, and windows are tinted. Headlights use very bright and long-lived LEDs rather than conventional bulbs. And front parking sensors are added to those at the rear.

Choose the sportier route and go for an i30 SR and you get the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine, with a manual gearbox as standard. The SR also comes with yet bigger wheelrims, at 18 inches, wrapped in tyres with a lower profile again. It substitutes a more sophisticated, multi-link, rear suspension for the torsion-beam set-up on other i30s. And its seats are more deeply bolstered on each side, so that they hold you in place more securely around corners.

An i30 SR with a manual gearbox costs less than an i30 Elite, and shares most of its features – the key exceptions being the SmartSense active safety suite and the rear air vents.

An i30 SR with the DCT auto gearbox costs about the same as an i30 Elite, and shares just about all of the Elite’s features – including the SmartSense active safety suite.

An i30 SR Premium has the DCT gearbox, costs about the same as an i30 Premium, and shares just about all the i30 Premium’s features, including SmartSense.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The i30 SRs ride more roughly than other i30s, because they have firmer suspensions and lower profile tyres.

The SRs substitute a smaller, temporary spare wheel and tyre for the full-sized spare on other i30s, and it has a recommended top speed of 80km/h.

Choosing an i30 with a sunroof means slightly less headroom, most noticeably for those seated in front.

White is the only standard colour. The other seven hues (one of which is only available on the SR and SR Premium) cost extra.

How comfortable is the Hyundai i30?

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At its core, the i30 is a hatchback version of the Hyundai Elantra. But it feels much better than an Elantra when you step inside, with more attention lavished on finish and presentation.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen, for example, is more than a display – it’s a design feature protruding from the dash. It looks good and works well, even if from the driver’s seat you have to lean forward a bit to reach the fixed buttons and volume control to its left.

All other controls fall easily to hand and are logically grouped: audio and infotainment on the main display and ventilation lower on the dash.

Numerous silver flecks and linings lift the dark plastics, many of which have a hard finish that is not pleasing to touch.

Optional two-tone finishes create a more open and welcoming cabin for the Elite. The SR’s racier look – complete with red highlights that resemble anodised aluminium – is more appealing again.

Seats are comfortable on all versions, with good lateral support.

Under way, it’s the Active that cushions you most effectively from bumps, thanks in part to its cushier suspension tune but in part also to its relatively high profile tyres.

Their 2.0-litre petrol engine’s six-speed automatic, also available in the Elite and Premium, also has the friendliest accelerator response of the various engine and transmission combinations, and its six-speed conventional auto gearbox shuffles smoothly between ratios.

The manual versions reward those who want to change gears themselves with a clean clutch take-up.

The i30 Elite maintains much of that comfort, despite riding on shallower tyres. It’s also very quiet, with even diesel engine having been muted impressively. Cruising feels very relaxed.

Like the Elite diesel, the i30 SR auto uses a twin-clutch gearbox that is slightly less forgiving in town than the auto in the petrol Go and Active.

But the extra punch from the SR’s turbo engine is fun around town, and generates effortless acceleration and hill climbing at highway speeds.

What about safety in a Hyundai i30?

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Every i30 comes with stability control, seven airbags, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, auto-on headlights, LED daytime running lights, and seatbelt reminders on front and rear seats. It is a safety package that prioritises crash safety, visibility to others, and awareness of what is behind you when reversing the car.

There are two airbags directly ahead of the driver and front passenger; a third airbag protecting the driver’s knees; one outside each front seat to protect at chest level from side impacts; and curtain airbags running the length of the cabin on each side at head level, protecting front and rear occupants from side impacts.

The i30 Elite and Premium, the auto i30 SR, and the SR Premium, enhance the basic package with a very comprehensive “SmartSense” active safety suite aimed at helping you avoid collisions (it’s an extra cost option in the more affordable Go and Active). It comprises Smart cruise control, Autonomous emergency braking, Lane-keeping assistance, a Driver-attention alert, Blind-spot detection (with Lane-change assist), and a Rear cross-traffic alert.

The Smart cruise control can reduce your speed automatically to maintain a safe distance from a slower car ahead on the highway, until you can overtake.

The Auto emergency braking uses radar and camera sensors to scan the road ahead of you, and works in two speed-ranges at up to 180km/h. In both ranges, if the system registers a hazard ahead (at city speeds this could be a pedestrian), it will first issue a warning, intervening only if you ignore it. At speeds under 80km/h, it will then apply heavy braking automatically, attempting to stop the car and avoid a collision. At speeds over 80km/h it will apply partial braking, with the aim of reducing your collision speed.

The Lane keeping assistance looks for signs you are drifting wide of your lane – perhaps from fatigue or distraction. It can gently adjust the steering, to arrest the drift and attract your attention. If you are about to join another lane without indicating, it will sound and flash an alarm.

The Driver attention alert monitors your steering and braking. If they show signs you are falling asleep, it suggests you take a break.

Blind-spot detection uses rear-facing radars to keep tabs on what is happening near your rear corners, alerting you to vehicles that might not show in your mirrors. If you indicate to change lanes into the path of an adjacent car, it will flash an alert in the relevant mirror and sound an alarm. The closely related Lane change assist does the same if a car is approaching quickly from further behind – typically because it is preparing to overtake you.

Rear cross-traffic alert uses the same rear-facing sensors when you are reversing, for example from a shopping centre parking space. It sounds a warning if another car is about to cross behind you.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the i30 five stars for safety, its maximum, most recently in April 2017.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Absolutely, and especially if you opt for an i30 SR or SR Premium. The turbocharged engine brings feisty acceleration and a hint of hot hatch, albeit minus a rorty exhaust note. The SRs are not hard-core sports cars but they bring more excitement than most popular small cars, and are the most engaging of the new i30s.

Firmer springs hold an SR flatter through corners, and the 18-inch tyres provide plenty of grip. The multi-link rear suspension settles better after mid-corner bumps. For the money, and given its versatility, an SR is a fantastic car for a twisting strip of bitumen.

The other i30s take a step backwards for driving enjoyment but still rank among the better small cars for eliciting a smile on a challenging road.

The Elite has about as much grip as an SR but leans more, which detracts from its stability when driven hard.

The Go and Active’s 16-inch tyres have less grip, and will squeal if you ramp up the pace. Body control is good, like the Elite’s, but the fun stops at lower speeds.

The 1.6-litre diesel in the Go, Active, Elite and Premium is fairly quiet and pulls strongly when you depress the accelerator. But it does not build up as much power as either petrol engine when you ask for all it has got, and so takes longer to gain a big chunk of speed.

The 2.0-litre petrol in these models pulls nicely around town and revs cleanly. It also accelerates in a spirited manner for small cars at their price points.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Leg room in the rear is marginally greater than in the previous i30, but this is still among the less spacious of small cars in the back. You get noticeably more room in the Honda Civic and Subaru Impreza, for example.

As is common in cars of this size, the rear seat is a bit narrow for three but will keep two rear passengers fairly happy.

If you do need to put three in the back, at least the rear floor is almost flat in the centre and there is space under the front seats for feet.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The i30 has pockets in each door for carrying odds and ends, and a binnacle under the armrest between the front seats.

The boot is slightly larger than the previous i30, now displacing 395 litres (up 17 litres). That’s good for a small hatchback.

The rear seats can be folded 60-40, and you can adjust the height of the boot floor. At its lower setting, capacity is maximised but there is a large step up to the rear of folded seatbacks. Raising the floor gives you a flatter extended-load space.

Where does Hyundai make the i30?

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All i30s sold in Australia are made in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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Not much. The i30 is very well equipped.

Unlike the i30, some popular small cars still supply a CD player – the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Holden Astra and Ford Focus, for example.

On wet or gravel roads, you might miss the added security of all-wheel drive, which is standard on a Subaru Impreza.

The Kia Cerato has longer warranty, at seven years.

Among other small cars worth considering are the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia, and Peugeot 308.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The i30 SR with the auto transmission is great buying. You get a powerful turbocharged engine and a lot of equipment, including the SmartSense active safety suite.

Are there plans to update the i30 soon?

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No – this i30 went on sale in Australia in May 2017 and is a new-generation car. The previous i30 arrived in 2012 and received a mid-life update in 2015. Expect a comprehensive update for this car about 2020.

There will be adjustments in the meantime, however, with some expected this year.

First, Hyundai says that by the end of 2017 you will be able to add auto braking and possibly other features of the SmartSense active safety suit to i30 Actives, as an extra-cost option.

Also by the end of the year, Hyundai expects to extend the 2.0-litre petrol engine now supplied with the Active to the i30 Elite, giving you the option of petrol or diesel.

In December 2017 the i30 Go was introduced as a cheaper alternative to the Active to lure more buyers. It costs around $1000 less than the Active with savings made by dropping the satellite navigation, reverse parking sensors and replacing the 16-inch alloy wheels with steel wheels with plastic covers.

The high-performance i30N was added to the range in March 2018, with a 202kW 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and the option of all-wheel drive. Hyundai builds in the Czech Republic. The i30 N is not included in body of this review, however you can view pricing, features and specifications in the Cars Covered section below the main image at the top of the page.

In April 2018 Hyundai made the SmartSense active safety package available to the cheaper i30 Go and Active variants as an extra-cost option. It also made the 2.0-litre petrol engine with six-speed automatic transmission available on the Elite and Premium.