Car Reviews

2020 Hyundai i30 Sedan review

Our independent 2020 Hyundai i30 Sedan review in Australia, including price, specs, interior, ride and handling, safety and score.

What’s in a name? Well, for Hyundai it could be the difference between having the best-selling small car or not.

The South Korean brand’s i30 hatchback has been one of the best-selling small cars in the country for several years now, regularly trading blows with the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 on the sales charts. However, because Toyota calls both its hatch and sedan small cars ‘Corolla’ that out-sell the i30 when the scores are tallied.

At the end of 2019 Toyota had sold 30,468 Corollas compared to Hyundai’s 28,378 i30… but there’s a catch. If Hyundai had been able to factor in the 2644 Elantra small cars (based on the same underpinnings as the i30) then it would have had the biggest selling small car in Australia.

All of which is a complicated way to explain part of the reasoning for Hyundai’s decision to dump the Elantra name and instead launch this new i30 Sedan.

Naturally, there are other factors that have gone into the decision, and arguably just as important as the name is the fact this new model is a major departure from the old Elantra which had developed a reputation as a solid but unspectacular small car.

In contrast, this new i30 Sedan is a striking machine from a styling perspective and sits on new-generation underpinnings.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Hyundai is offering a four-tier line-up for the i30 Sedan, starting at $24,790 (plus on-roads) for the base Active with six-speed manual transmission. An extra $2000 will get you the Active with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Next up is the Elite, which is priced from $30,790, and comes with the automatic as standard.

Those are the two models we’ll be testing here, but Hyundai will add the N Line (from $30,290) and N Line Premium (from $37,290) before the end of 2020.

WHAT DOES IT COST TO OWN?

All models are covered by Hyundai’s fixed price servicing plans. For the Active and Elite, with the 2.0-litre petrol engine, visits are due every 12 months/15,000kms.

Pricing is $259 for the minor check ups (12,24,36 and 60 months) while the major service at four years/60,000km is $359.

WHAT’S THE EXTERIOR LIKE?

Hyundai has been bold with the new i30 Sedan, taking its ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language to the next level with eye-catching lines across every surface of the car.

Naturally beauty is in the eye-of-the-beholder, but no-one can accuse the i30 Sedan of being boring or dull. From the “futuristic cascade grille”, down the “crisply rendered character lines” to the full-width taillights that create an impression of being lower and wider than it is, every angle of the i30 Sedan has been thought out.

The profile of the car is deliberately coupe-like, with a steeply raked rear roofline sweeping down to the relatively short decklid. Then there’s those character lines down the flanks, which are reportedly inspired by a jewel.

This isn’t a car that will appeal to everyone, but it does speak to a company high on confidence and willing to take a risk.

WHAT’S THE INTERIOR LIKE?

The same boldness on the exterior has carried over into the cabin, taking a giant leap forward from the out-going Elantra in terms of design and presentation.

Especially in the Elite model, which uses some interesting materials in the cabin – such as the denim-like fabric on the upper door trims – to lift the feeling of quality. The Elite also features a 10.2-inch digital instrument panel that is paired with an infotainment touchscreen the same size.

It looks similar, but not as harmonious, as what you find in the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and A-Class, with Hyundai trying to create the impression the two screens are filling one space.

The effect is somewhat diminished, however, by the large blank panel off to the right of the instrument panel. It’s meant to contain the Drive Mode selector in the N Line variants but is simply a black panel with a circular sticker in the Elite.

The Active isn’t quite as appealing, with cheaper-looking materials, a traditional dashboard and a smaller 8-inch infotainment screen; which subsequently looks even smaller because it’s housed in the same large black panel as the bigger option.

Space is good both front and rear which makes the i30 Sedan a genuine four-seater for those needing to carry a small family or friends on a regular basis.

Despite the ‘coupe-like’ roofline the new platform the car sits on has allowed for the seats to be up to 25mm lower than the old Elantra, which means headroom is no problem even for adults in the back.

And legrooms is very generous, with ample knee and foot space for myself to sit comfortably behind my own driving position; and I’m approximately 180cm for reference.

HOW SAFE IS THE i30 SEDAN?

Hyundai is very proud of the safety packed into the i30 Sedan, with forward collision avoidance (including city/urban/interurban/pedestrian/cyclist detection), Driver Attention Warning, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go (on auto variants), Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Blind Spot Warning (Elite and N Lines only), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (Elite and N Lines only) as well as Rear Occupant Alert and Speed Exit Warning (Elite and N Lines only).

However, for all that safety gear there are some questions

WHAT’S THE INFOTAINMENT LIKE?

As mentioned earlier, the i30 Sedan comes with an 8-inch infotainment screen in the Active and a 10.2-inch version for the Elite. But there are some key differences between the two beyond size.

Both systems are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but the smaller screen introduces wireless connectivity for the first time.

While the Elite’s larger screen still requires a wired connection, the more expensive model does get a Bose Premium Sound System with eight-speakers.

All models also come standard with a wireless smartphone charging pad, which is a newer version with improved charging and cooling.

WHAT IS THE STORAGE LIKE?

It may be stylish but Hyundai hasn’t forgotten about the practical nature of a small car. The boot is a generous 474-litres, a 16-litre bump on the Elantra, and it’s both wide and deep so it should have little trouble swallowing luggage or the weekly shopping.

WHAT ENGINES ARE AVAILABLE?

The Active and Elite use the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which makes 117kW of power and 191Nm of torque.

If those figures sound modest they feel it on the road. Around town the engine does a good job motivating the i30 Sedan at lower speeds (below 80km/h) but once you get on the open road or highway you will need to work it harder.

It has to labour, revving hard and loudly, when overtaking or calling for a burst of acceleration which does detract from what is an otherwise pleasant driving experience.

We only sampled the six-speed automatic (and it’s highly unlikely the manual Active will be a big seller anyway) and it did a respectable job.

WHAT ABOUT FUEL ECONOMY?

Fuel economy is rated at 7.0-litres per 100km for the automatic model, which isn’t anything spectacular but on par for this kind of powertrain combination.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Like most Hyundais on sale in Australia the i30 Sedan underwent a local test program to tune the steering and suspension settings to our unique road conditions. It pays off handsomely with the chassis out-performing the engine during our drive.

The i30 Sedan feels solid, stable and responsive on the road. The steering is nicely weighted for a small sedan, making it easy to live with around town but still nice to drive out on the open road.

The ride is good too, doing an admirable job of soaking up the smaller imperfections in the road and only occasionally getting unsettled by the bigger bumps and potholes.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

There are plenty of small car options, but if your preference is a sedan your choices are slightly diminished.

The Hyundai will have to compete against its arch-rival, the Toyota Corolla sedan; which is priced from $23,895 for the Ascent Sport model. Crucially it’s available with a more efficient hybrid engine in the Ascent Sport Hybrid, starting at $27,395.

Other small sedan options include the Mazda3, Kia Cerato, Subaru Impreza and Honda Civic.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Will the name change help the i30 become Australia’s best-selling small car? It’s certainly possible.

The i30 Sedan is a solid small car, it has a modest engine backed up by a well-sorted chassis, with plenty of room for occupants and luggage. But it’s now wrapped up in a more stylised package that may help it stand out from the crowd and attract enough buyers to push the i30 badge to the top of the sales heap.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the value?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?

2020 Hyundai i30 Sedan specs and price

Price From $24,790 plus ORCs Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 2.0L four-cylinder petrol Power 117kW at 6200rpm Torque 191Nm at 4500rpm Transmission 6-speed auto or manual Drive front-wheel-drive Body 4650mm (l); 1826mm (w); 1415mm (h) Kerb weight 1210kg Seats 5 Fuel Use 7.0L/100km Spare Full size


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Stephen Ottley

Stephen Ottley