Paul Horrell’s preview drive 2017 Hyundai i30 Review with specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: Hyundai’s core compact hatch has very few rough edges. It’s quite fun to drive, and refinement is OK, and comes backed by Hyundai’s usual confident warranty.

2017 Hyundai i30 (European spec)

PRICE $NA WARRANTY 5 years/unlimited km ENGINE 1.6L turbo diesel 4cyl POWER 81kW at 4000rpm TORQUE 280Nm at 1500-2500rpm TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual DRIVE front-wheel drive BODY 4340mm (L); 1795mm (W EXC MIRRORS); 1455mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE 10.6m TOWING 1500KG (braked) 650KG (unbraked) KERB WEIGHT 1293-1411kg SEATS 5 FUEL TANK 50 litres SPARE space-saver (in Europe) THIRST 3.8 L/100km combined cycle FUEL diesel



THIS IS AN important new car, because the i30 is a huge seller in Australia, and this version is pretty much all-new. Half the steel in the body shell is the higher-strength grade, which makes it safer in a crash, yet lighter than before. Some of the engines are new. The cabin has a new big-screen infotainment setup. The driver is assisted by a reasonable count of active-safety aids.

What’s the interior like?

You sit in a well-shaped seat with a good range of adjustment, not just for the seat but the steering wheel. In front of the gear lever is a tray with USB socket, 12V outlet and on top versions a wireless phone charging pad.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

Top versions have an electric park brake, while the rest get a yank-on job. In either case a pair of cup holders lives alongside, down by your elbow. Those in the back get a class-average deal for space, plus a pair of directable vents.

The boot’s bigger than most in the class, and on Euro-spec versions with a temporary spare wheel, the floor can be dropped to increase the space further.

Forward vision is pretty good, though the thick rear pillars means it’s average over your shoulders. Top models get a reversing camera.

Ahead of the driver sits a binnacle holding a pair of big, clear of dials for speed and rpm, incorporating smaller fuel and temp dials. A comprehensive but no-nonsense secondary screen sits between them, carrying driver’s info including trip computer and nav instructions.

The climate controls are a combination of knobs and buttons. Above is the screen, with half-a-dozen shortcut keys around its perimeter.

The whole design of instruments and controls is utterly conventional. There’s a reason: this arrangement works well and it won’t confuse anyone coming from another car.

All versions get a colour infotainment system for radio, media and phone. The top-end kit is a bigger screen incorporating navigation and connected services such as traffic, weather reports and live fuel prices.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

Those top-end jobs also have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. Which is a bit ridiculous. The main gain from those phone mirroring systems is that they have the potential to save you the need to shell out for built-in satnav.

The interior is a temple of monotonous black plastic. All rather cheerless, and little of it is the nice matt-finish soft stuff we get from the Germans. The door trim is especially bleak, with a hard and ungrained panel surrounding the release catch, just at the place your rings will scratch it.

What’s it like on the road?

The base engine in Oz will be a 2.0 non-turbo direct-injection petrol lifted from the current generation. Our home range will also feature the diesel engine driven in this overseas test.

It’s a 1.6, and as it has just 81kW to its name you really do have to flog it to get half-decent performance. Still, for a diesel it’s smooth-running and quiet, so treating it that way doesn’t feel too excruciating.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

The six-speed manual’s gearlever has a reassuring clonk to its action, and the clutch travel is progressive and the engine well calibrated, so you’ll be able to shift smoothy in traffic.

We also tried a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, which is smooth and shifts gears as an when you’d expect, for instance dropping a ratio or two as you go downhill.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

The steering is light and pretty direct, and the suspension resists body roll. So among straightforward family hatches this is towards the quick-steering and precise end of the posse. In a succession of bends it feels as if it’s pivoting nicely around you rather than dissolving into understeer. It’s a pretty engaging chassis when you press on.

Taut suspension brings a fairy busy ride, but the suspension manages to round off big sharp bumps. On undulating sections, the body movements are properly damped, so no one should feel sick.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

The main issue is actually road noise, a constant low-pitched roar on many surfaces. It undermines the efforts of the stereo. Mind you, it’s not a brilliant music system anyway, emitting a slightly flabby and indistinct sound at the best of times.

It’s worth noting that we were driving the European version that has multi-link rear suspension instead of the torsion beam the local market i30s will get. Generally, multi-link enables a better combination of steering precision with reduced ride harshness. So, the local car might suffer to some degree on either front. Although, Hyundai Australia does conduct local suspension and steering tuning.

What about the safety features?

Hyundai is confident about the i30’s showing in crash tests. But we don’t have external data yet.

Airbag count runs to seven: two frontal, two front-side and two front-to-rear curtains, plus a driver’s kneebag. ISOFIX points are limited to two, one either side of the rear seat.

A roster of active features is built in as standard or available. Frontal automatic emergency braking is standard, and European cars also get lane keeping – the good sort that gently nudges you back into lane rather than just beeping at you when you drift across the line.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

Upper versions also have radar cruise control. Blind-spot warning is on the list, and with that comes rear cross-traffic alert, which warns if you’re reversing out of a driveway and a vehicle is bearing down on you.

The electronics also monitor your steering inputs, driving time and other factors to assess if you’re becoming tired or erratic, then warn you to catch some zzzzzs.

Why would you buy one?

The Hyundai I30 in Australia has proved to be one of the most-loved and best-selling cars of recent memory. It has certainly given the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla some sleepless nights. This is a first drive of the European-spec i30 but it gives a nice tease as to what Australian buyers can expect, especially on the inside of the thing. If you’re looking for a practical, well-built hatch with a strong warranty then the i30 is hard to go past.


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About Author

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.


  1. No doubt an improvement over the current generation. It looks a bit like a wooden looking Peugeot 308 with a naff rear bumper treatment. I reserve final judgement until I see one in the flesh, however, if Hyundai want to premium price this and get the volume to go with this pricing, the car has to look more special than it does. If Toyota actually try with the next generation Corolla/Auris it should slap down its competitors… time will tell.

  2. Since I frequently drive on course surfaced country roads, my main priorities in my next new car
    are low levels of cabin noise and ride comfort. I was hoping that the new i30 would have a quiet cabin at highway speeds to match or better the Volkswagen Golf, but from your above review, it might not be the case.

  3. I may be the only person who would want manual, diesel, leather upholstery, matching spare wheel – and really, the rest doesn’t matter as long as the price is right.
    Having been in a few, I’d prefer the IRS but I don’t know if that’s enough to be a deal-breaker as I get older. Price is, though.

  4. hoping it will come with the gray colour leather and dash like in the UK? if not, it will be a disappointment to me as i am thinking of up grading from my 2012 i30 to this one. that would be a deal breaker.

  5. If u had to choose between the new Subaru impreza vs the i30 which would you choose? Not super fussed about power but enough for overtaking is preferred, im more interested in a nice quiet smooth ride however for mostly around town and then for the odd long cruise to the country for. 5-7hour drive. The fact the impreza doesnt have rear vents for the kids worries me also. Do you think the aircon holds up fine without them in the impreza?

  6. Have owned an i30 diesel since 2008, appears to have gobs of power. Dont understand reviewers comment that youhave to flog it to get anywhere. Torque figure tells all, 280 nm !

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