Review: Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012)

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Well equipped. Refined. Good ride and handling. Economical. Available as a 1.6 diesel auto, which is rare. Five-year unlimited mile warranty.

17-inch wheels best avoided. Full size spare costs extra. Standard tyres noisy.

Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012): At A Glance

South Korean carmaker Hyundai didn't have a Focus-sized car. So when it decided to offer one, the company wisely figured it had better fill that particular gap. So, from September 2007, you will be able to buy Hyundai's new i30 model with a 115PS 1.6 diesel engine and a four-speed automatic transmission.

The good news for my e-mailers doesn't stop there. The i30, like the Toyota Auris and its own cousin the KIA Ce'ed, is slightly more upright with higher seats than the class average. So it's easier to get in and out of, which is something bound to appeal to the sort of people who want a 1.6 diesel auto.

Not only that, for the i30 model to get a foothold in this highly competitive section of the market, it had to be a very good car. And it's that too.

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What does a Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012) cost?

List Price from £17,355
Buy new from £15,286
Contract hire from £173.40 per month

Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4245–4280 mm
Width 1775 mm
Height 1480 mm
Wheelbase 2650 mm

Full specifications

Basic ‘Comfort' models come complete with air-conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, an RDS radio/CD player with MP3, Windows Media Player and iPod compatibility.

It has twin front, side and curtain airbags, switchable passenger airbag, active headrests, driver seat height and lumbar adjustment, front and rear electric windows, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, 5 passenger seatbelt warning system, heated electric door mirrors, steering wheel audio controls, external USB, Aux and i-Pod connections, and ESP with integrated traction control.

All for £10,995 in the 1.4 petrol ‘Comfort' version, £12,295 in the 1.6 petrol ‘Comfort' version, £12,995 in the 1.6 diesel ‘Comfort' version, and £13,995 in the 1.6 diesel ‘Comfort' automatic.

Next step up is ‘Style' trim, that adds 16-inch alloy wheels, auto light control, cloth and leather seats, leather covered front armrest with storage compartment, leather covered steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring system, and UV filtering windows. That adds £1000 to £1550 to the price, depending on engine.

Finally, you could opt for ‘Premium' spec which substitutes 17-inch alloys for 16-inch and adds reversing sensors, climate control a/c, electric folding door mirrors, electrochrome rear view mirror, full leather seats, two stage heated front seats, rain sensing wipers with de-icers and rear centre armrest and wiper de-icers. That adds £1600 to the price of the ‘Style'.

Child seats that fit a Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012) like to drive?

It drives as well as an Auris and almost as well as a Focus. It rides as well. It's far better equipped. It's handsome. And it's cheaper.

Hyundai realistically doesn't see the i30 as a competitor to the more expensive Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and VW Golf at the premium end of the Focus sector. Instead it's hoping to pinch sales from the C4, Focus, 307, Megane, Auris and Astra. We drove a 1.6 ‘Premium' spec diesel, a 2.0 litre ‘Premium' spec petrol and a 1.6 ‘Style' spec petrol.

The new, German-designed chain-cam 1.6 diesel is pleasant, quite lively and also reasonably relaxed on the motorway, geared to around 30mph per 1,000rpm in 5th. It handles sweetly, with no nasty surprises, and the unusually high seating position is very comfortable. The only downside was the harshness over ridges and potholes generated by the ‘Premium' spec 225/45 R17 tyres. It just misses £35 a year annual VED with a CO2 output of £125g/km and a very creditable 60mpg combined.

Next, we tried the 2.0 litre petrol manual, also on 225/45 R17s and the same comment applies. It actually drove very like a 2.0 litre Focus, but, on those 225/45 R17s tramlined badly, especially over the real tramlines in Vienna and gave a completely new meaning to the expression "riding on rails". However, it turns out the 2.0 litre petrol engine won't be coming to the UK anyway, and there is some doubt about the old-tech 2.0 litre diesel.

Finally we took out a 1.6 petrol on 205/55 R16 tyres, and not only was the ride much better, virtually eliminating potholes and ridges, I reckon it handled better too, especially in the greasy wet roads we encountered on the second day of testing. The downside of that is its low 21mph/1,000 gearing that makes it a bit noisy on the motorway. No more than an Auris 1.6, but noisy nonetheless.
For spec I can recommend the ‘Style' models on 16" wheels and tyres rather than going up to full bling ‘Premium' spec, and I expect the base model ‘Comfort' on 185/65 SR 15 tyres will be pretty good too.

And the obvious engine choice is the new 115PS 1.6 diesel. Unlike the KIA Ce'ed, which is built in Czechoslovakia, the i30 comes from South Korea. So, though there is some component sharing, and by 2009 it will be built in a new factory in the Czech Republic, the actual cars are quite different.

Hyundai's trump card is, of course, its 5 year unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty. No one else (apart from KIA) offers anything like it.

RHD 1.4i petrol

Three weeks prior to the UK launch I had the chance to drive a RHD 1.6 CRDI, and a 1.4i petrol version.

The diesel drove and handled identically to the LHD version tested in Austria. However, in typical UK conditions, it was notably refined. Apart from its power delivery you could not tell it was a diesel from either the driver or the passenger seat. Almost no diesel rattle at all.

But the big surprise was the smallest engine. The 109PS 1.4i is sweet, free-revving and refined. The car feels easily as quick as a 1.6 Focus and, though geared at a quite low 20mph per 1,000rpm in top, it was happy to cruise at 4,000rpm without droning.

The lighter engine also helps its handling. The car felt much more agile than the diesel on the same 205/55R16 Kumho tyres. Do the sums and at £2,000 cheaper than the 1.6 CRDI and £200 less fuel cost per 10,000 miles it's going to take 100,000 miles to make up the difference in purchase price.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 46 mpg 11.6–12.6 s 142–145 g/km
1.4 ISG Stop&Go 49 mpg 11.6 s 135 g/km
1.6 41–46 mpg 10.8–11.9 s 152–165 g/km
1.6 Automatic 41 mpg 11.9 s 162 g/km
1.6 CRDi 50–63 mpg 11.5–12.8 s 119–150 g/km
1.6 CRDi 90 64 mpg 14.0 s 115 g/km
1.6 CRDi 90 ISG Stop&Go 67 mpg 14.0 s 110 g/km
1.6 CRDi Automatic 50 mpg 12.8 s 150 g/km
1.6 CRDi ISG Stop&Go 63–64 mpg 11.5 s 115–117 g/km
1.6 ISG Stop&Go 46–48 mpg 10.8 s 139–142 g/km
2.0 CRDi 51 mpg 10.3 s 145 g/km

Real MPG average for a Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

29–69 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

My car will fail it's MoT if I put winter tyres on - what's the alternative?

I've had my Hyundai i30 from new in December 2009. Each winter, I put on my set of steel rims shod with winter tyres with a result that my TPMS amber warning light comes on because it can't find a signal from the sensors in the alloy wheels (that are safe and hibernating in my garage awaiting warmer times ahead. During this time, along comes my MoT on 21 December. Up until now, the testers look and see why and this issue is ignored for the test results. This year however, I was told if a system is present on the car and shows a warning, it will fail the test. It would appear I'm now faced with either getting sensors fitted in my steel rims, buying 'all season' tyres for my existing rims or not having the extra safety during the winter. Is this correct or is there another alternative I can consider?
Three answers: The incredible inconvenience of swapping the wheels and tyres over for just for the MoT, then swapping them back. Or get your MoT done while the car is still on its summer tyres and run it year to year that way. You don't have to have the MoT exactly a year after the previous one. Or, if both sets of tyres are fairly worn, swap over to Cross Climates of Vector 4 Seasons on the wheels with the sensors.
Answered by Honest John
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What Cars Are Similar To The Hyundai i30 (2007 – 2012)?

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