Car Reviews

2018 Hyundai i30 Active Review

Isaac Bober’s 2018 Hyundai i30 Active Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The entry-level Hyundai i30 Active is likely to be the least popular because of its entry level status, but it might just be the most enjoyable small hatch in the segment.

2018 Hyundai i30 Active

Pricing $20,950+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Safetyfive-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 120kW at 6200rpm Torque 203Nm at 4700rpm Transmission six-speed manual Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4340mm (L); 1795mm (W); 1455mm (H); 2650mm (WB) Turning Circle 10.6m Boot Space 395 litres Spare Full Size Fuel Tank 50L Thirst 7.3L/100km (combined) Fuel petrol (91RON; E10 compatible)

THE THIRD-GENERATION Hyundai i30 was launched here in May this year with Hyundai saying it had “redefined the thriving small-car market”. The new i30 is bigger and roomier than the car it replaced (the new i30 is 40mm longer than the old car, 15mm wider and 15mm lower through the roofline), and its standard features put some competitors to shame.

There’s native sat-nav available across the range, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, electric parking brake, dual-height floor, full-size spare wheel and more. Our test car (i30 Active with manual transmission) sits on the very first rung of the i30 ladder with a list price of $20,950+ORC.

It’s not all good news, though, as while Hyundai says its working to ensure its active safety suite, SmartSense, will soon be available across the entire range, for now, the Active makes do without the sort of active features some buyers are looking for, like autonomous emergency braking.

What is the Hyundai i30 Active?

The i30 Active, as already stated, is the entry into the i30 range. It offers a list price of $20,950+ORC with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic adds $2000 to the price while you can also get a turbo-diesel Active with six-speed manual for $23,450+ORC, or just $200 more than the petrol automatic. A turbo-diesel variant with Hyundai’s own seven-speed DCT (DSG) rounds out the Active line-up at $25,950+ORC. There’s more variety in the Active range than any other Hyundai variant.

There’s only one cost optional extra in the Active line-up, which is metallic paint at $495. Other variants are available with a panoramic sunroof.

And the i30 Active with its 2.0-litre petrol is also the cheapest to maintain in the i30 line-up with its 12 month or 15,000km service intervals costing between $259 and $359 depending on the service. Hyundai’s service plan covers five years and is transferrable to a new owner. If an owner services their i30 with Hyundai, then they’ll receive 10-years of free sat-nav maps updates and 10 years of roadside support.

It’s worth noting the i30 Active we’re testing costs $500 less than its equivalent predecessor and that’s despite, according to Hyundai, an additional $2000 worth of extras being added. It gets a more powerful engine, dusk-sensing headlights, LED daytime running lights (which replace the front fog lights), hill-start assist, tyre pressure monitor, 16-inch alloys and an 8.0-inch sat-nav system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

What’s the interior of the Hyundai i30 Active like?

The entry-level i30 Active doesn’t feel like an entry model. The dash design is reminiscent of premium vehicle designs with its scalloped and stretched dashboard that replaces the old car’s Y-shaped dash. This horizontal layout makes the car feel bigger and airier on the inside.

The quality of materials is very high for an entry-level car which is down to the fact that Hyundai pinched one of Bugatti’s materials designers to work on the i30 interior. There are soft-touch plastics where you want them and while there’s more hard plastic than first appearance suggests, Hyundai’s made sure the hard stuff, well, looks like soft stuff and feels nice to the touch.

2018 Hyundai i30 Active Review by Practical Motoring
Interior pic shows i30 Active with automatic transmission.

The dashboard highlights look good and the colour combinations in our test car helped to lift the notion this was a sub-$21k car. The fit and finish is excellent and Hyundai has established itself as one of the benchmark interior designers.

There’s only one 8.0-inch infotainment screen across the range and it juts out from the dashboard but manages to look like it’s meant to be like that rather than a tacked-on afterthought. The system includes native sat-nav as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are two cupholders in the front, two 12V, one USB, and one AUX outlet(s) in the front with a deep storage bin that’ll easily hold a smartphone. There are door bins that’ll take a 500ml bottle but nothing bigger.

What’s the passenger space of the Hyundai i30 Active like?

There’s plenty of room in the i30 for two adults and two children, or adults in the back seat (the seat depths are 50cm). The middle back seat loses foot room thanks to the transmission tunnel and the shape of the seat itself is more along the lines of a perch than a comfortable seat. Still, in a pinch, you could use it as there’s enough legroom for passengers in the two outboard seats to share.

Staying in the back seat, there are ISOFIX on the two outboard seats and while some may bemoan the fact there are no mounts in the middle, I suggest that’s a good thing. As, no matter how safely secured, having a child sitting in the middle seat is both inconvenient to access for the parents when loading and unloading the child and not as safe as the two outboard seats; it’s not called the suicide seat for nothing.

There are no rear air vents in the Active variant but the front air vents are positioned well to push air through into the back and the fan speed when dialled up to 4 is like a gale force wind blowing through the cabin. With winter well and truly here and most of my morning starts sitting on around 2 degrees C, the i30 did a top job of warming the cabin quickly and evenly. I’d suggest it’ll cool the cabin just as well in the warmer months. In the Active it’s only single-zone climate control.

The back windows are nice and big, so anyone sat in the back will get a good view out and the windows roll all the way down although there’s no one-touch up/down. The driver’s window is one-touch down.

The front seats are broad but well-shaped with good under thigh support and enough adjustment to allow drivers of all heights to get comfortable behind the wheel (the depth of the seat base is around 52cm). The steering wheel offers reach and rake adjustment and there’s good vision from the driver’s seat right the way around the car. The reversing camera is standard but it’s quality isn’t amazing and it struggles in low light; first-world problem.

In all, the shape of the seats and the light and airy cabin as well as the stretched dashboard and quality materials contribute to a passenger space that’s classy looking and practical too for a family.

What’s the boot space like in the i30 Active?

Unlike other models in the range, the i30 Active gets a full-size spare and 395 litres of storage space, other variant because of differing rear suspension layouts get a space saver spare and a dual-floor height.

The rear seats are 60:40 split-fold and don’t fold completely flat but once you drop them you do get a decent 1301 litres of storage space. There is a lip into the boot so loading and unloading means you’ve got to lift your stuff up and over, but the load height is just under 80cm off the ground and the drop down into the boot less than 10cm.

What’s the Hyundai i30 Active like on the road?

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the Active variant we tested makes more power than the old car’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder, producing 120kW and 203Nm of torque. Now, on paper that doesn’t seem like a whole lot of grunt but, mated to the six-speed manual, a transmission type that’s sadly losing favour, and this thing is properly fun to drive.

The engine feels perky with solid mid-range grunt that allows you to leave it in fourth and ride the torque from 2800rpm and that’s despite peak torque not arriving until 4700rpm. Indeed, push the car towards its limits and it feels great, seemingly relishing being revved and that’s not something you can usually say about entry-model cars.

2018 Hyundai i30 Active Review by Practical Motoring

The six-speed manual is perfectly matched to the clutch allowing for quick and easy shifts. The gear shifter feels good in the hand and can be reached easily and, as you swap through the gears the transmission feels like it is actually made from bits of metal… too many manual shifters in ‘cheaper’ vehicles feel like you’re stirring a bowl of porridge.

All the pedals feel nice underfoot with good feel and progression to their action. The i30 Active is a cheap car, but it doesn’t feel like one.

2018 Hyundai i30 Active Review by Practical Motoring

As you no doubt read in every single story about a new Hyundai, the brand’s local engineering team spend a lot of time tweaking the suspension and steering to suite Australian roads and driving preferences. Hyundai said that while some variants run a Torsion Beam rear end, like the Active we’re testing here, and others a more sophisticated multi-link set-up, they wanted the ride and handling to be so close as to be virtually imperceptible to anyone who’s not a chassis engineer.

And the local team has done a stunning job on the i30. According to Hyundai its team, gleaned data from 168 test drive data runs across the i30 range involving 208 different damper specifications, front and rear. Also tested and assessed were seven different anti-roll bar combinations together with 13 spring set combinations. The steering is also faster on Australian variants and we should be thankful for that.

2018 Hyundai i30 Active Review by Practical Motoring

Make no mistake, the i30 Active is a properly fun little machine. It’s comfortable around town but throw it at a twisty road and rather than feel out of its depth it seems to enjoy being pushed as hard as you like. Sure, push it too hard and the nose will push wide but a lift off the throttle will see the nose tuck back in, and no matter how hard you throw the thing into a corner it sits nice and flat refusing even to be bumped off line or the steering jerked by mid-corner bumps or holes.

The well weighted and direct steering means you can point and go with the i30 Active and while I’m a huge fan of the i30 SR, I reckon this entry-level i30 Active with manual transmission offers up fantastic bang for your bucks.

What about the i30 Active’s safety features?

The i30 range has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating, scoring 35.01 out of 37. Unlike other models in the range, the i30 Active misses out of Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety suite. But, Hyundai says its hoping to be able to fit this suite to the Active variant by the end of the year, so, stay tuned for more news about that.

So, while it misses out on SmartSense, the i30 Active offers reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, tyre-pressure monitoring and rear parking sensors across the range. The range also offers airbags covering the front and rear, ISOFIX, seatbelt reminders and more.

So, what do we think about the i30 Active?

The five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres will be enough to satisfy many potential buyers. Look a little deeper and there’s an i30 to suit everyone… if you’re shopping on a budget and can’t stretch to an i30 SR then this Active with manual transmission will give you about 90% of the thrills for less money.

A comfortable car, even in Active trim, the new i30 is a big step ahead of its predecessor and shows up the shortcomings of key competitors in the segment. I said it after the launch, and I’ll say it again, this new i30 is the new small car benchmark.

Editor's Rating

What's the passenger space like?
What's the boot space like
What's it like on the road?
What about the safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: The Hyundai i30 is already a favourite of ours and this entry-level Active with manual transmission stands out as the best entry-level small car you can buy… if you like driving. And, once Hyundai fits it with its SmartSense active safety suite (something it says it will try and achieve by the end of this year) this one might just become my favourite in the range.


  • Richard White

    I put my new 2016/2017Elantra elite in for its first 12 months service last week and was lucky enough to be given a new i30 active courtesy car for the day . Also I,m fortunet to drive my wifes 2014 i30 premium on the odd occaction so i can give IMHO some straight up from the untrained in a short comparison..I couldn’t pick any difference in acceleration both my wifes older 1.8 and the new 2 litre, felt the same, if the new i30 is slightly larger is it slightly heavier ? I was impressed with the handling and road gripping of the new entry level active i30 with only 16″ alloy rimms and narrower tryes it holds the road well even comparing to my wifes 17″ x 225 wider width tryes which I could never fault always handles well….. I also think this sets a new standard in value for the dollar, it blew me away the huge Display screen, reversing camera ,sat nav and the electric side rotating mirrors that I have had to pay for in the past purchasing the Elite and Premium models but now on the Active …..Having said all that I really loved driving the new i30 but I’m sorry I dont like the look of the new shape i30. To straight and flat in its lines. Will stick with the older curvier i30.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.