Car Reviews

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

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

In a nutshell: The new Hyundai i30 gets a new look inside and out, more features, and a bespoke ride, handling and steering tune for Australia.

2018 Hyundai i30

PRICING From $20,950+ORC WARRANTY five-years, unlimited kilometres SAFETY five-star ANCAP ENGINE 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol; 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol; 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel POWER 120kW at 6200rpm; 150kW at 600rpm; 100kW at 4000rpm TORQUE 203Nm at 4700rpm; 265Nm at 1500-4500rpm; 280-300Nm from 1500-3000rpm and 1750-2500rpm TRANSMISSION six-speed manual; seven-speed DCT DRIVE front-wheel drive DIMENSIONS 4340mm (L); 1795mm (W); 1455mm (H) BOOTSPACE 395 litres FUEL TANK 50L THIRST From 4.5-7.5L/100km (combined)

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THE 2018 HYUNDAI i30 was launched this week in Australia with Hyundai Australia calling it the “most stylish, strongest, best-equipped and technologically savviest i30 yet, the reimagined i30 easily sets a new premium small-car benchmark”. That’s a big statement even by usual car marketing standards…

The i30 is an important car for Hyundai Australia, it’s the brand’s best-seller here with Australia one of the key markets for i30 around the world. It fights to be heard in the small car segment which, despite all of the noise around SUV sales, is still the biggest segment of the new car market.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

And Australia is also an important market for Hyundai, contributing around 30% of global volume… just let that sink in for a moment. 30% of all Hyundai i30s are sold in Australia. Wow.

What is it?

This is the third-generation Hyundai i30. The first-generation was launched in 2007, the second in 2011 and the third-generation right now. Practical Motoring has already run a first drive of the new i30 from our Paul Horrell, but there’s a key difference between the cars he drove and the ones I’ve driven this week. And that is, Australian i30s, indeed all Australia-delivered Hyundais, get tweaked suspension and steering to suit “Australian conditions”.

The new i30 is the first Hyundai to show-off the new-look ‘cascading grille’ which as Hyundai’s European design boss, Thomas Buerkle said at the local launch, is intended to look like molten metal being poured out. He also waxed lyrical about the thursting bonnet and the bob-tail rear and the shape and shadows cast through the car’s shoulder line giving it volume. And he’s right. And then there’s the tailgate that’s modelled off the Tucson’s rear, something you’ll only notice after someone’s told you about it…

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

All you really need to know, though, is that this new car looks more premium than the old one. And, I’d go so far as to suggest, it’s the most convincing meeting of East and West design to come out of Hyundai, although it’s probably line-ball with the Tucson, which is one of the best looking cars on the road, in my humble opinion.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

Beyond the sharp new styling, the new i30 is 40mm longer than the old car, 15mm wider and 15mm lower through the roofline. And that’s something, according to design boss, Thomas Buerkle, that received push back from the engineers who wanted the roof line higher to create more headroom. I’ll come back to this shortly.

Pricing for the new i30 starts at $20,950+ORC for the entry-level manual Active variant rising to $23,450+ORC for the manual diesel Active, rising to $28,950 and $33,950+ORC for the diesel-powered Elite and Premium variants. The petrol-powered manual SR variant lists from $25,950 and the SR Premium is $33,950+ORC.

What’s the interior like?

Starting with the boot, the i30 SR gets a dual-floor boot which offers 395 litres of storage space, the non-SR models get a full-size spare, while the SR gets a space saver because of its multi-link bum and thus packaging issues (Hyundai wanted to maintain a full-size boot across the range); a full-size spare is available as an extra-cost accessory but pricing wasn’t available at the time of the launch. Obviously adding a full-size spare will rob some room from the boot, but it would mean you wouldn’t have to drop items down into the boot, creating minimal boot lip (see images below).

All other variants offer a single floor boot with space saver beneath. Fold down the 60:40 split-fold seats, which is easily done via levers on the outside edge of the rear seats and the boot grows to 1301 litres. The seats don’t fold down flat, and if you’ve got an SR with the dual floor you’ll have one section lower than the other, although this is easy to fix, er, by raising the floor to its highest setting.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

Moving into the back seats proper and they’re well shaped, the two outboard seats, anyway. I made sure I travelled in the back for a section of the drive and felt comfortable with good head, leg, shoulder and elbow room. I mentioned earlier the engineers wanted to raise the roof while the designers wanted it lowered; the designers won, but you wouldn’t know it. I’m as close to six-foot tall as you can get and I had plenty of room in the back.

The entry-level Active misses out of rear air vents, as does the SR, but Elite and Premium variants all get rear air vents which in our climate is a handy feature.

For those with kids, there are ISOFIX anchor points on the two outboard seats and high-mounted top tethers for all three seat positions. The rear door openings are nice and big and the hip point is high-ish too, making it easy to swing in and out of the back seat without running the risk of smacking your head either on the way in or out.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

Moving to the front of the i30 and the cloth seats in the entry-level Active are comfortable and supportive (see pictures above of the Blue car), stepping up to the SR and the seats are swathed in leather and add a little more side bolstering to keep you in place when cornering… not that you slide around in the entry-level seats.

The design of the dashboard has moved from a Y-shapped dash on the old car that tended to pull your eye into the middle of the car and actually made it feel a little small inside, to one that’s spread out horizonatally, and with the infotainment screen and climate controls pushed up higher. It all helps to create a sense of there being more room than in the old car… design trickery at its best.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

There’s one infotainment screen across the range and it’s an eight-inch unit that runs the latest-generation of Hyundai’s infotainment system and offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. But, the standard system offers nativ sat-nav which is excellent and fast to re-route even when you try and purposely trick it, like I did on the launch drive around Albury, NSW.

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’s also wireless charging, which only works with some smartphones; Hyundai said its accessories team is working on development of an iPhone case to allow wireless charging.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

The fit and finish, and materials used in the new i30, no matter the variant, are a cut above their equivalent in the previous-generation cars. That’s in no small part down to the fact Hyundai has nabbed an ex-Bugatti materials expert to tweak the materials and feel of the surfaces in its cars, and she worked on the new i30.

What’s it like on the road?

I spent time in the entry-level Active with seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), an SR with six-speed manual and an Elite with a diesel engine and DCT. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is a carry over from the old car and offers up 120kW at 6200rpm and 203Nm of torque at 4700rpm. The 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is exclusive to the SR and SR Premium and makes 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm, and the 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel makes 100kW at 4000rpm and 280Nm of torque from 1500-3000rpm (manual) and 300Nm from 1750-2500rpm for the DCT. All engines are Euro5.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

All three engines are excellent with enough grunt for overtaking and flattening hills, but the turbocharged petrol in the SR is a pretty sweet powerplant with a good strong spread of torque that allows it to pull strongly from low rpm even when you find yourself in too-high-a-gear. Indeed, this engine line-up shows up the shortcomings of some of this car’s key competitors which only offer one engine and one transmission.

Our Paul Horrell has already previewed the i30 in its UK trim, but our cars offer a different state of tune for both the suspension and steering. Indeed, the local ride and handling team experimented with 208 different damper settings, 13 different spring sets and seven anti-roll bars. The steering has also been tweaked with a faster rack offering 2.57 turns lock-to-lock, down from more than three in OS cars.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

And it makes a big change to the way the car rides and handles. A very big change. The roads we got to drive across offered the sort of variety Australians across the country will be familiar with, from smooth highways to twisting but well-surfaced back roads, to rougher surfaces with nasty potholes and big body compression moments on dips in the road. And the i30, in all trim levels, ate up the roads, displaying excellent body control through corners, good turn-in grip through the front-end and the ability to absorb mid-corner bumps without jolting through the cabin.

And one of the clever things is that all variants but the SR get a torsion beam bum; the SR gets a multi-link rear end, yet the ride and handling characteristic across the range is almost identical. That said, the 18-inch alloys on the SR models do give that car a more planted feel mid-corner.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

The i30s competitors would do well to be nervous as this new i30 easily out rides and handles just about every car in the class. Yes, it’s that good. In the entry level and diesel variants the brake pedal felt nice and progressive, while the SR which still stopped very well seemed to have a bit of slack in the top of its travel before it grabbed.

The transmissions, both manual and DCT, are easy to use and feel well-matched to the engines they’re backed onto. The manual in the SR brings that car to life, allowing the driver to get properly involved in the doings of the car. Although, so torquey is the engine, you won’t need to swap cogs too often to get the best out of the thing.

What about safety features?

The new i30 gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating and a solid safety package across the range with all models, except for the entry level Active, at the moment, getting Hyundai’s active safety package, SmartSense. This package, which includes autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, driver attention alert, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert and smart cruise control, will also be available for the entry level Active variant later this year, meaning every variant of i30 will have a comprehensive active safety package.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

Beyond SmartSense, the i30 offers reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, tyre-pressure monitoring and parking sensors front (Premium only) and rear parking sensors across the range. The range also offers airbags covering the front and rear, ISOFIX, seatbelt reminders and more.

Why would you buy one?

Well, the five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres is probably a good enough reason for many people, but beyond that the new i30 is a good looker with room for a family inside, offers all the up-to-date connectivity you could need, is easy and fun to drive, and has a great active safety system which will eventually cover the full range. The entry-level Active will be the big-seller of the range and buyers will get a lot of car for their money, and one that’s good fun to drive too.

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: The new Hyundai i30 not only looks better and more premium inside and out, but it’s better to drive and better equipped than ever before. With a solid range of cars to choose from, strong engines, good pricing and an excellent active safety system, the new i30 is likely to be the dominant force in the small car segment, indeed I'd go so far as to say that as a complete package it's the new small car benchmark. Be afraid Mazda. Be afraid Toyota.

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.