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How much? £20,295
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1582cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 126bhp @ 4000rpm, 192lb ft @ 1900-2750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 10.9sec 0-62mph, 117mph, 74.3mpg, 100g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1386kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4300/1780/1470mm
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 3 out of 53


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review

By Ben Pulman

First Drives

14 February 2012 13:00

This is the new Hyundai i30. And it was only in late 2007 that Hyundai launched the first i30, so the fact another one is already upon us rubbishes the industry standard of 6-7 year lifecycles.

The first Hyundai i30 (along with its sister, the Kia Ceed) made us start taking the Korean brand seriously, and from ix35 to i40 via Veloster, Hyundai is on a bit of a roll. Read on for our first drive review to find out how good the new Hyundai i30 is.

So what’s the new Hyundai i30 like to drive?

However much Ford has moved the character of the Mk3 Focus away from dynamism and towards comfort and refinement, it remains the driver’s benchmark in the hatchback class. And the i30 can’t match it.

We tried three models, automatic and manual versions of the 1.6 CRDi diesel, and the 1.6 petrol (only available with a manual). Don’t demand anything too strenuous of the auto (there’s no Sport mode, no paddles) and it’ll slur along happily, but as it’s only available with a 108bhp version of the 1.6-litre diesel, it’s not what you’d call quick. Or brisk. Or anything else that might indicate a decent turn of pace. There’s no obvious mid-range kick from the turbocharger either.

It doesn’t turn into corners with the alacrity of the Focus, and on dusty Spanish roads its defaults to understeer pretty quickly – and we’re not talking about silly speeds either. Over the same roads the petrol is more entertaining, its smaller (205/55 R16 Continental ContiSportContact 2s versus the diesel’s 225/45 R17 Hankook Ventus Prime 2s) finding more grip and eradicating some of the early understeer.

Best is the manual version of the 1.6 CRDi. We tested the more powerful 126bhp variant, which was quick enough, the ‘change was light if a little notchy going through the gate, and overall it’s the most appealing model.

What else?

All the cars we tested share a predominantly comfortable ride (the secondary ride can occasionally be a little stiff) and strong refinement levels, the latter only spoilt by excessive wind noise at motorway speeds.

All i30s bar the base Classic model feature Hyundai’s new Flex Steer system, with a button on the wheel to switch between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes. Comfort is too light, and while the latter two progressively add a little weight, all three still feature too much slack through the first degrees of turn. We’d use Normal for the majority of life, and Sport if you’re thrashing around, but it’d be better if Hyundai had just developed steering that was direct and incisive.

Should you care that the i30 can’t quite excite like a Focus?

No, because there’s much to commend. Let’s start with the exterior. You’ll see ideas pinched from the bigger i40 in the front and side styling, and hints of sister company Kia in the rear, but besides the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Giulietta it’s one of the better looking hatchbacks. We like it.

And it’s even better inside. That bloody Golf still offers up a more obviously classy and restrained cabin, but the majority of the i30 interior materials are top-notch. The silver trimmings are obviously painted plastics rather than actual metal, and the indicator stalks are shiny and bright, but everything else is impressive. The dials are clear, the buttons are big, everything is intuitively laid out, and the touch-screen sat-nav screen is as good (if not better) than the Golf’s.

There’s plenty of space up front, and more than enough headroom for a 2m tall road tester even with the optional panoramic sunroof is fitted. Great seats too, with good lateral support from hip to shoulder. Back seat space is a little tighter, for both knee- and head-room, and although the rear seats fold flush with the boot, they don’t fold entirely flat.


Hyundai’s i30 won’t entertain like a Focus, but that’s never been the be all and end all in this class. It majors on good looks, and a stylish and quality cabin, plus strong on-paper fuel consumption and emissions figures.

The only thing that needs to change is the badge. No, we’re not talking about any outdated connotations of what brand Hyundai means because there's not a bad car in its range, but that the ageing italicised ‘H’ badge appears out of place both inside and out on a car that deserves our praise and your attention. 

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the Hyundai i30


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Average rating: Rated 3 out of 53 (28 votes)

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Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review


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Disbeliever says

RE: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review

 First of all IMO all road tests should be carried out on UK roads. The i30 is very much overpriced unless you are a Blue Badge Holder. The reviewer fails to notice the bad reflections in the windscreen, unacceptable light switch and the fact that the car lacks three  essential features  for me.. Tyre pressure monitor, 2. Auto Dim rear view mirror, 3. powered foldback door miirrors on Active spec. Totally useless features  on Style model are very annoying Auto Headlights, & stupid rainsensing wipers found on most cars these days too slow to react. Best feature not mentionned is provision of space saver spare wheel.  

17 March 2012 10:23



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Johann says

RE: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review

As ever the Kia version looks far better.  Less gaping fishmouth (that is now everywhere on all Hyundais in S, M and L guises) and far more menacing.  The KIA also retains a family look but is not a Xerox copy of the rest.


Thanks CAR, again we have to go elsewhere for decent pictures of the KIA since you only uploaded two pics neither of which shows the nose.  Ace!


As to the i30.  Fine enough but if you go and look at the dash of the KIA (again you can't find this on CAR) it looks FAR better too.


"They've come a long way".  How sick am I now of reading that with every single test of these cars or the comments that go with any test.  Yes they have.  So lets just move on please.  As someone said below as a 30something myself I'd rather drive a KIA or Hyundai than any Japanese car.  Had there been no European cars on the planet of course. 

16 February 2012 14:00



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bertandnairobi says

RE: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review

They do seem to be doing a very good job of designing decent cars, don´t they? The only tiny fly in this otherwise wholesome ointment is that they couldn´t get the rear seats to fold flat. Is it the fuel tank that got in the way? All Hyundai have to do is to hire a chassis guru and they´ll wipe the floor with the French and Italian brands. I wonder what the product planners at PSA, Ford and Fiat are going to do about this development or are they still smug about the superiority of European brands?

15 February 2012 13:50



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carmobster says

RE: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review

A few years back we, including CAR magazine, all laughed at the Koreans. I made fun of them and became sick when I saw a new model.

Today things are changing, My friends are in their 30's and they all rather drive a Kia than a Honda or Toyota. Cause the Japanes are ugly and for old people.

Hyundai/Kia are becoming more exciting and better as overall cars. They are becoming interesting for car enthusiasts and that is a big change.

Honda, Toyota and Subaru especially are slipping away. I promiss you this, if the Japanese don't up their game, in 10 years the Japanese will be bought up by VW and Hyundai.

15 February 2012 12:41



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Batty says

RE: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012) CAR review

Good looking sensible car that will win buyers all through Toyota's heartland. When I consider what Hyundai offered less than 20 years ago, they show remarkable progress. How long before they commit the ultimate folly and enter F1?

15 February 2012 04:45

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