Our Cars: Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Sport-Nav 3dr

11 September 2013: Three doors or five?

The Details

Current mileage 6321
Claimed economy 68.9mpg
Actual economy 48.1mpg

Buying a car shouldn't be a process that is upset by listening to your heart but that's never how it works. A two-seat sports car is never going to work well if you have a family of four and a dog, however the idea will always appeal. The i30 is offered in both three and five-door forms – so why would you buy the smaller three-door?

Styling wise the differences aren’t abundantly obvious. There are, of course, no rear doors on a three-door and in their place there’s an attractive window design that makes the roofline appear to slope, giving a sportier profile. Additionally, at the front there’s a black grille rather than a chrome one and there are different LED lights.

Aside from that there’s little to differentiate the two and if you don’t have children to carry that’s about where it stops – the lack of rear doors will probably be irrelevant. If you do have kids then you might think the sportier design must be sacrificed for the greater legroom and better access of a five-door – but with the i30 that’s not the case.

Typically there’s not much legroom in the back of a three door car but I recently spent a week driving a teenager around and she fit perfectly comfortably into the back seats of the three-door i30 and she didn’t have a horrible time getting in and out thanks to good sized doors and seats that are easy to adjust.

Five -door

                                   The five-door doesn't look hugely different from the three-door

However there is one irritation when letting someone in and out of the back row – the front seat doesn’t automatically return back to its original position on the seat runner. That’s irritating if you have a very specific driving position and it’ll mean the first five minutes of a trip are spent getting the seat in the right spot.

Teenagers are obviously less of a pain to get in and out of a three-door car than younger children – providing they fit – so perhaps the five-door would suit families with young children and babies a little more. That said if the only thing that keeps you from buying the sportier looking three-door is a worry about its practicality then don’t let it put you off – it’s not as tiny as you might think.

Of course if practicality is at the very top of your agenda the i30 Tourer is the most sensible choice and it still looks pretty good – it’s not too bulky and it maintains the lines of the three and five-door cars, with the benefit of a giant boot with space for dogs, holiday luggage or trips to Ikea.

But for me the three-door is the best choice – which makes the lack of them seen on the road all the more confusing. Indeed I’ve never seen another three-door model in the past six months – just loads of five-doors and tourers. Maybe Hyundai buyers tend to use their heads not their hearts.

« Earlier: Disappointing fuel economy hasn’t improved     Later: Waving off the i30 »

After six months with the Hyundai i30 Sport Nav 1.6 diesel it's time to say goodbye and generally it's been a good car.
11 September 2013: Three doors or five?
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