< Hyundai i30 Review
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Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30
Koreans Throw Down The Gauntlet

i30 Matches Best Europeans In Driveability, Quality, Looks
Beats Them With Price, Guarantee
**** out of 5

Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30

I’m going to have to eat my words here, or at least give a mea culpa and promise never to do it again.

In the past, when I saw car design that looked a bit frumpy, or materials that were a bit tacky, I often used the phrase “It looks a bit Korean”. It was true that Korean cars left a bit to be desired on the quality front. They tended to be hard as nails and reliable, but didn’t really pass muster in the fashion parade.

I’ve just driven the new Hyundai i30 and I promise never to do it again. The i30 is a VW Golf sized car which apparently has all the qualities of the famous German icon, but for thousand of pounds less. The bodywork looks smart – I think I detected a BMW 1 Series from the rear – the interior is top class, and the ride and handling are, well, Germanesque.

To be fair, it’s been no secret that Korean standards were beginning to match European’s, although the car the i30 replaces, the Accent, might have been guilty of many of these things. The Hyundai Santa Fe SUV and its sister product the Kia Sorrento have long shown that these Asians can be a match for anybody. (Hyundai owns Kia.)

No cheap radios either
As soon as you take the wheel in the i30 you know you’re in a winner. The chunky steering wheel feels just right. The seats with leather trim – this was the middle ranking “Style” version – look good and are very comfortable. The gear lever had aluminium stuff on it. The smart, upmarket dials on the dashboard look the business. There’s plenty of space for the rear passengers. With the rear seats folded, my road racer fitted in with the wheels attached no problem. Even the nasty looking radios with the minuscule buttons have been dumped for top notch equipment.

Start up the engine, and the emanations were not exactly high tech, but this was the 1.4 litre version. There is a 1.6 litre 122 bhp petrol and two diesels, a 1.6 litre 115 bhp and a 2 litre producing 140 bhp. The 1.4 litre motor sounded a bit weedy, but not a million miles away from the noise my Honda Jazz makes. The engine, which produces 109 bhp, doesn’t perform like a hot road, not surprisingly, but if you work the gearbox a bit it will go along pretty well. At high motorway speeds the car was surprisingly quiet and very comfortable. If you wound up the speed a bit and tackled some sweeping bends, the steering was very tight and the body roll imperceptible.

Tyre monitoring
One of the standard bits of equipment is a Tyre Monitoring System, which I must admit I felt was pretty useless, especially when a little icon lit up on the dashboard pointing out a problem. I cynically assumed that this was bound to be a malfunctioning system rather than a tyre problem, but I did pull into my local garage and check the rear offside tyre (the system pinpoints the tyre). To my surprise it was seriously under-inflated and I was able to put it right, thus presumably saving excessive tyre wear, and adding to my safety.

Of course no car is perfect, and I do have a couple of little niggles. The direction indicators made such a soft, imperceptible noise that I often found myself with the indicator still on after a manoeuvre had been completed. And when I took the car in for petrol, I couldn’t find the filler cap release anywhere. After consulting the handbook, I found the release cap hidden under the carpeting. Maybe old Hyundais wouldn’t have had carpeting in the first place so perhaps the handbook is a left-over from a bygone age.

Exaggerated fuel consumption
The fuel consumption did not come close to the claims either. Hyundai says the car will return an average 46.3 mpg (6.1 l/kms). The best I managed was 39.2 mpg (7.2 l/km), and I averaged 36.7 mpg (7.7 l/km) over about 350 miles.

The i30 range comes in three trims – Comfort, Style and Premium. The base models have air conditioning, ESP, four electric windows, alloy wheels and steering wheel radio controls. All cars have passenger, driver and full length curtain airbags, front fog lights, remote locking, glove box cooling, electrically heated door mirrors and a trip computer. The next level adds things like larger wheels, automatic lighting, part leather trim and tyre monitoring. The Premium models have bigger wheels again, reversing sensors and climate control.

Prices start at £10,995 and the most expensive model is the 2.0 CRDi Premium automatic at £16,795.

5-year guarantee
The piece of resistance is the 5-year, unlimited mileage guarantee.

The i30, not to mention the Kia C’eed, must be causing European manufacturers to have a fit of the vapours. It appears to match the best Europe can offer in terms of quality, driveability and looks, but leaves them in the dust when you look at prices and the five-year guarantee. I didn’t award the i30 the coveted WintonsWorld maximum 5-stars, but I suspect I might if I get to drive the 1.6 CRDi Premium Auto.

Neil Winton – November 10, 2007

Hyundai i30 1.4 Style

1.4 litre, 4-cylinder petrol
109 bhp @ 6,200
Torque: 137.2 Nm @5,000
5 speed manual
front wheels
0-62-100 km/h 12.6 seconds
Top Speed:
116 mph-186 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 46.3 mpg (6.1 l/km) WintonsWorld road test - 36.7 mpg (7.7 l/km)
CO2 Emissions:
145 g/km
4,245 mm
Weight: 1,293 kg-2.850 lbs
MacPherson/multi link
Warranty: 5 years unlimited
Service Intervals: 12 months/10,000 miles
£12,545-€18,000 – now on sale across Europe
VW Golf, Chevrolet Lacetti, Kia C’eed, Citroen C4, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Fiat Bravo, Honda Civic, Skoda Octavia, Mercedes A class, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 308, Proton Gen-2, Vauxhall/Opel Astra, Renault Megane, SEAT Leon, Suzuki Liana, Toyota Auris
Would I buy one?
I might go for the 1.6 litre diesel automatic
**** out of 5
great value package with no real compromises
no snob value, yet

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