What stands out?

Hyundai’s stylish i30 hatchback is loaded with equipment, including great smartphone integration and – on more expensive versions – a broad active-safety suite that includes autonomous emergency braking. Handling and comfort are good, and there is a broad range of models ranging from the budget-priced i30 Go to the i30 N hot hatch.

What might bug me?

If you have chosen one of the sportier i30s, driving at 80km/h on your space-saver spare wheel until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre – all other i30s carry a full-sized alloy spare that matches the other wheels on the car. On the plus side the reason the i30 N-Line and N have a space saver spare is because they have a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension that takes up more space.

If you have chosen an auto-transmission i30 diesel or i30 N-Line, stop-start driving in city traffic. These use a dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which operates much like a manual gearbox with robotic control. It won’t give you the fluid, elastic, take-off from rest that you get with the conventional auto gearbox in other i30s.

What body styles are there?

Five-door hatchback. This includes the i30 N Fastback version which has four doors and a more coupe-like exterior with a lift-back hatch

Hyundai also offers a small sedan alternative to the i30, which it calls the Elantra.

The i30 drives its front wheels, and is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features does every Hyundai i30 have?

A sound system with AM/FM radio receivers, Aux and iPod compatible USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and six speakers, controllable from an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.

Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display some smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice).

Cruise control. A steering wheel adjustable for height and reach, from which you can operate the cruise control, the audio system, and your phone. Height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

A reversing camera.

Headlights that switch on automatically when it’s dark, and daytime running lights illuminated by very long-lived LEDs.

Heated exterior mirrors that power-fold automatically against the body when you lock the car (to keep them out of harm’s way).

Illuminated vanity mirrors and ticket holders on the sunvisor.

Either a full-sized spare wheel and tyre, or (in either i30 N-Line and N) a space-saver spare. A tyre pressure monitor, which could give you more time to get a slow puncture seen to.

Hill-start assist, which helps you take off on uphill slopes by controlling the brakes automatically.

Seatbelt reminders, seven airbags, and electronic stability control, which can help you control a skid and is mandatory on new cars. (For the placement of airbags, and more on i30 safety features, please open the Safety section below.)

Every i30 carries a five-year warranty with no limit on distance travelled.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

You can choose from three petrol engines and one diesel in an i30. The most fuel-efficient is the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel available in the i30 Go, Active, Elite and Premium. It consumes 4.7 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined) with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

It is a smooth and quiet diesel and brings you relaxed cruising, but it is not particularly brisk.

One reason you might not choose this engine is that you expect to use your i30 almost exclusively for short trips around town. The diesel uses a particulate filter to trap soot from its exhaust, and every week or two you need to sustain 50km/h or more for 20 minutes so that the filter can self-clean.

A second reason is that the dual-clutch transmission supplied with the diesel is not as friendly around town as the conventional auto in petrol versions of the i30 Active.

Another reason you might not choose the diesel is that you want to pay less for your preferred i30 version, which costs less with petrol power than with the diesel.

The petrol engine available in an i30 Active is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the same engine that powered the sporty SR versions of the previous-generation car. On the official test, i30s with this engine consume 7.4 litres/100km in auto form.

Finally, you might forgo the fuel-efficiency of diesel power because you want the superior performance of the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol that powers the i30 N-Line and N-Line Premium, or the even more powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged engine in the i30 N.

On the official test, the 1.6 turbo petrol uses only marginally more fuel than the 2.0 petrol in the other variants. It feels more responsive when you first squeeze the accelerator than the 2.0 petrol, and about the same as the 2.0 diesel. But it develops a lot more thrust than either of those if you hold your foot down.

Despite having more power, the i30 N’s 2.0-litre turbo use less fuel the than the 1.6 litre; 7.1 litres/100km through the six-speed manual gearbox, which is the only transmission available in the sporty hot hatch.

The standard 2.0-litre petrol engine drives through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed conventional auto. The 1.6-litre diesel is available with a six-speed manual gearbox (Active only) or a seven-speed DCT auto. The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol is available with a six-speed manual gearbox (N-Line only) or a seven-speed DCT auto.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly i30, the Go, comes standard with cloth-covered seats, manually controlled air-conditioning, 16-inch steel wheels, the 2.0-litre petrol engine, a manual gearbox, and the features in any i30.

You can spend more for an auto gearbox, in which case you get a conventional auto with its around-town friendliness. Or you could choose instead a Go diesel, with a dual-clutch (DCT) auto.

Spend more on the i30 Active and you gain satellite navigation that doesn’t depend on your phone, digital radio (DAB+), auto-folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors, rear-seat centre arm rest, and 16-inch alloy wheels that look nicer than steel wheels and don’t need plastic trim. Like the Go there is also a diesel option.

For about $1750, the i30 Go and Active are also available with Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety suite, comprising adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking that works at city and highway speeds, lane-keeping assistance, a driver-attention alert, blind-spot detection, and a rear cross-traffic alert. (For more on these systems, please open the Safety section below.)

From here you have two possible paths along which to spend more on an i30. You can have a choice of the 2.0-litre petrol and 1.6-litre turbo diesel and more features, by choosing an i30 Elite or Premium. Or you can have a turbo-petrol engine, a sportier drive and more features, by choosing an i30 N-Line or N-Line Premium, or even more for an i30 N.

Choose an i30 Elite and auto gearboxes are standard with both the petrol and diesel versions. You get a mix of leather and fake leather on the seats and steering wheel, and smart-key entry (which lets you unlock the car and drive away without handling the key). Dual-zone climate control maintains a set cabin temperature, the driver and front passenger have independent controls, and there are vents for rear passengers. Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains. Compatible smartphones can be charged wirelessly from a pad on the centre console. And the wheels are an inch bigger at 17 inches, wrapped in wider tyres with a lower profile (for more dry grip and a sportier look).

The i30 Elite also brings you Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety suite as standard equipment.

Paying more for an i30 Premium brings you, in addition, heating and ventilation for both front seats, and a power-adjustable seat for the driver. There is a power-opening glass sunroof, and windows are tinted. Headlights use very bright and long-lived LEDs rather than conventional bulbs. And front parking sensors are added to those at the rear.

Choose the sportier route and go for an i30 N-Line (formerly known as the SR) and you get the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine, with a manual gearbox as standard. The N-Line also comes with yet bigger wheel rims, at 18 inches, wrapped in tyres with a lower profile again. It substitutes a more sophisticated, multi-link, rear suspension for the torsion-beam set-up on other i30s. And its seats are more deeply bolstered on each side, so that they hold you in place more securely around corners.

An i30 N-Line with a manual gearbox costs less than an i30 Elite, and shares most of its features – the key exceptions being the SmartSense active safety suite and the rear air vents. An i30 N-Line with the DCT auto gearbox costs about the same as an i30 Elite, and shares just about all of the Elite’s features – including the SmartSense active safety suite.

The i30 N-Line Premium has the DCT gearbox, costs about the same as an i30 Premium, and shares just about all the i30 Premium’s features, including SmartSense.

The most expensive i30, the N, has most of the features of the standard N-Line with the extra money being spend on performance and handling, including the gutsier 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox plus enhanced brakes, differential, suspension and steering for true hot-hatch performance and handling.

An active variable exhaust system is also fitted, which can be controlled via Hyundai’s N Mode Drive System that adjusts steering, suspension and engine mapping to suit normal or sports driving conditions. The N Mode system also contains performance timers and a launch control function, while the dash features a row of shift-light LEDs.

The i30 N also has more aggressive exterior trim features such a side skirts and rear-spoiler, and most of the interior features found in the N-Line. If you want more creature comforts you can add the Luxury Pack that brings many of extra the features found in the i30 Premium.

You can also spend a little more on the i30 N Fastback, which has most of the same features as the hatch, but a more coupe-shaped body.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The i30 N-Line and N versions ride more roughly than other i30s, because they have firmer suspensions and lower profile tyres.

The N-Line and N substitute a smaller, temporary spare wheel and tyre for the full-sized spare on other i30s, and it has a recommended top speed of 80km/h.

Choosing an i30 with a sunroof means slightly less headroom, most noticeably for those seated in front.

White is the only standard colour. The other hues cost extra.

How comfortable is the Hyundai i30?

The i30 is at its core a hatchback version of the Hyundai Elantra. But it feels much better than an Elantra when you step inside, with more attention lavished on finish and presentation.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen, for example, is more than a display – it’s a design feature protruding from the dash. It looks good and works well, even if from the driver’s seat you have to lean forward a bit to reach the fixed buttons and volume control to its left.
All other controls fall easily to hand and are logically grouped: audio and infotainment on the main display and ventilation lower on the dash.

Numerous silver flecks and linings lift the dark plastics, many of which have a hard finish that is not pleasing to touch.
Optional two-tone finishes create a more open and welcoming cabin for the Elite. The N-Line's racier look – complete with red highlights that resemble anodised aluminium – is more appealing again. Seats are comfortable on all versions, with good lateral support.

Under way, it’s the Go and Active that cushion you most effectively from bumps, thanks in part to its cushier suspension tune but also to its relatively high profile tyres.

All versions are well shielded from wind noise. On poorly surfaced country roads you hear a mild hum from the tyres, particularly in the N-Line and N with the bigger wheels and wider tyres.

The 2.0-litre petrol automatic has the friendliest accelerator response of the various engine and transmission combinations, and its six-speed conventional auto gearbox shuffles smoothly between ratios. Manual versions reward those who want to change gears themselves with a clean clutch take-up.

The diesel versions are also very quiet, the diesel engine having been muted impressively. Cruising feels very relaxed.
The diesel versions, and i30 N-Line auto uses a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) that is slightly less forgiving in town than the auto in the petrol Active. But the extra punch from the N-Line’s turbo engine is fun around town, and generates effortless acceleration and hill climbing at highway speeds.

This is further amplified by the i30 N that brings performance car levels of driver enjoyment, albeit with a firmer ride.

What about safety in a Hyundai i30?

Every i30 comes with stability control, seven airbags, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, auto-on headlights, LED daytime running lights, and seatbelt reminders on front and rear seats. It is a safety package that prioritises crash safety, visibility to others, and awareness of what is behind you when reversing the car.

There are two airbags directly ahead of the driver and front passenger; a third airbag protecting the driver’s knees; one outside each front seat to protect at chest level from side impacts; and curtain airbags running the length of the cabin on each side at head level, protecting front and rear occupants from side impacts.

The i30 Elite and Premium, the auto i30 N-Line, N-Line Premium and N, enhance the basic package with a very comprehensive active safety suite aimed at helping you avoid collisions (this is a $1750 option in automatic Go and Active versions). It comprises adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, a driver-attention alert, blind-spot detection (with lane-change assist), and a rear cross-traffic alert.
The adaptive cruise control can reduce your speed automatically to maintain a safe distance from a slower car ahead on the highway, until you can overtake.

The autonomous emergency braking uses radar and camera sensors to scan the road ahead of you, and works in two speed-ranges at up to 180km/h. In both ranges, if the system registers a hazard ahead (at city speeds this could be a pedestrian), it will first issue a warning, intervening only if you ignore it. At speeds under 80km/h, it will then apply heavy braking automatically, attempting to stop the car and avoid a collision. At speeds over 80km/h it will apply partial braking, with the aim of reducing your collision speed.

The lane keeping assistance looks for signs you are drifting wide of your lane – perhaps from fatigue or distraction. It can gently adjust the steering, to arrest the drift and attract your attention. If you are about to join another lane without indicating, it will sound and flash an alarm.

The driver attention alert monitors your steering and braking. If they show signs you are falling asleep, it suggests you take a break.

Blind-spot detection uses rear-facing radars to keep tabs on what is happening near your rear corners, alerting you to vehicles that might not show in your mirrors. If you indicate to change lanes into the path of an adjacent car, it will flash an alert in the relevant mirror and sound an alarm. The closely related lane change assist does the same if a car is approaching quickly from further behind – typically because it is preparing to overtake you.

Rear cross-traffic alert uses the same rear-facing sensors when you are reversing, for example from a shopping centre parking space. It sounds a warning if another car is about to cross behind you.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the i30 five stars for safety, its maximum, most recently in April 2017.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Absolutely, and especially if you opt for an i30 N-Line version. The turbocharged engine brings feisty acceleration and a hint of hot hatch, albeit minus a rorty exhaust note. The N-Lines are not hard-core sports cars but they bring more excitement than most popular small cars, and are the most engaging of the new i30s.

Firmer springs hold an N-Line flatter through corners, and the 18-inch tyres provide plenty of grip. The multi-link rear suspension settles better after mid-corner bumps.

For the money, and given its versatility, an N-Line is a fantastic car for a twisting strip of bitumen, but if you really take your driving seriously than the i30 N is for you!

The N's gear shift action is incredibly slick and is augmented by rev-matching tech that eliminates the need to heel-toe when braking hard. With the exhaust valves opened all the way engine offers up a delightful cracking noses that makes you think you’re driving one of Hyundai’s rally cars.

Straight line performance is exceptional, with plenty of thrust and minimal turbo lag when you put the foot down. And on bends there’s plenty of grip with handling tuned to deliver high-speed stability.

Hyundai's first attempt at a hot -hatch is so good that it beat benchmark rivals, including the Volkswagen Golf R and Honda Civic Type-R, in Wheels magazine’s 2018 Hot Hatch Mega Test.

The other i30s take a step backwards for driving enjoyment, but still rank among the better small cars for eliciting a smile on a challenging road.

The Elite has about as much grip as an N-Line but leans more, which detracts from its stability when driven hard. The Go and Active’s 16-inch tyres have less grip, and will squeal if you ramp up the pace. Body control is good, like the Elite’s, but the fun stops at lower speeds.

The diesel versions are more about cruising than punching through the gears. The diesel engine is fairly quiet and pulls strongly when you depress the accelerator. But it does not build up as much power as either petrol engine when you ask for all it has got, and so takes longer to gain a big chunk of speed.

The 2.0-litre petrol pulls nicely around town and revs cleanly and accelerates in a spirited manner.

How is life in the rear seats?

Leg room in the rear is marginally greater than in the previous i30, but this is still among the less spacious of small cars in the back. You get noticeably more room in the Honda Civic and Subaru Impreza, for example.

As is common in cars of this size, the rear seat is a bit narrow for three but will keep two rear passengers fairly happy.
If you do need to put three in the back, at least the rear floor is almost flat in the centre and there is space under the front seats for feet.

The Elite, Premium, N-Line Premium and automatic N-Line feature air vents at the rear of the centre console.

All versions except the Go have a fold-down centre arm rest.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The i30 has pockets in each door for carrying odds and ends, and a binnacle under the armrest between the front seats.

The boot is slightly larger than the previous i30, now displacing 395 litres (up 17 litres). That’s good for a small hatchback.

The i30 N Fastback’s boot holds up to 436 litres.

The rear seats can be folded 60-40, and you can adjust the height of the boot floor. At its lower setting, capacity is maximised but there is a large step up to the rear of folded seatbacks. Raising the floor gives you a flatter extended-load space.

Where does Hyundai make the i30?

All standard versions of the i30 sold in Australia are made in South Korea. The i30 N hatch and fastback are built in the Czech Republic.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Not much. The i30 is very well equipped.

On wet or gravel roads, you might miss the added security of all-wheel drive, which is standard on a Subaru Impreza.

An economical hybrid powertrain as in the Toyota Corolla – though Hyundai does have the similarly sized Ionic that’s available in hybrid and all-electric versions.

The similarly equipped Kia Cerato has longer warranty, at seven years.

Among other small cars worth considering are the Ford Focus, Holden Astra, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Volkswagen Golf, Renault Megane, and Peugeot 308.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

The i30 N-Line with the auto transmission is great buying. You get a powerful turbocharged engine and a lot of equipment, including the SmartSense active safety suite.

Are there plans to update the i30 soon?

Yes - the i30 went on sale in Australia in May 2017 and is a new-generation car. The previous i30 arrived in 2012 and received a mid-life update in 2015. A comprehensive update has been revealed and is scheduled to arrive in Australia at the end of 2020.

Interestingly, the 2021 model range will also include an i30 sedan, instead of a separately-badged Elantra.

The i30 has had a few updates since 2017. In December that year, the i30 Go was introduced as a cheaper alternative to the Active to lure more buyers. It costs around $1000 less than the Active with savings made by dropping the satellite navigation, reverse parking sensors and replacing the 16-inch alloy wheels with steel wheels with plastic covers.

The high-performance i30N was added to the range in March 2018, with a 202kW 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

In April 2018 Hyundai made the SmartSense active safety package available to the cheaper i30 Go and Active variants as an extra-cost option. It also made the 2.0-litre petrol engine with six-speed automatic transmission available on the Elite and Premium.

Hyundai rebadged the SR versions as N-Line in January 2019 and the i30 N Fastback arrived the following March.

The manual gearbox was dropped from the diesel i30 versions in mid-2019 for the 2020 model year.