Hyundai i30 Estate (2015 - ) review
The Hyundai i30 Tourer is a fine alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, with a good-value price and excellent warranty
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The i30 Tourer is a quite a handsome car as small estates go, and you can park next to a Ford Focus estate or Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer without feeling short changed. With its swooping bonnet curves, scalloped sides, large hexagonal grille and teardrop headlights, the i30 could almost be mistaken for a mini-i40. The sharply styled front end gives real road presence and even the hatchback’s swept-back profile hasn’t been altered too much in the transformation to an estate car. Base versions have to make do without alloy wheels, roof rails and some exterior chrome trim, but otherwise the i30 is a smart thing, with LED running lights, body-coloured door handles and front foglights on all versions.
The interior is very similar to the i40's, which is no bad thing. There’s a swooping dashboard, and while there are lots of dull grey plastics, there’s also a smattering of metal-effect trim to brighten things up. Everything is well made and, for the most part, those plastics feel substantial - although some of those lower down on the dashboard feel a little cheap and those on the top of the dash cause bad reflections in the screen in bright sunlight. It’s all easy to use, too: Hyundai does a fine line in chunky, clearly marked buttons, while the stereo is sited nice and high, too. Depending on the trim level, you get manual or electric height adjustment on the driver’s seat, while higher trims add adjustable lumbar support and height adjustment for the front passenger’s seat. Although the view to the front and sides is good, the thick rearmost pillars restrict the view to the rear. Thank heavens that rear parking sensors are standard on all but the most basic models.
There’s plenty of head- and legroom in the front, and thanks to the good space in the rear seats as well as the easy access, another couple of six-footers will fit in the rear. However, the centre seat is narrower than the outer two, making the i30 a better four- than five-seater. There’s a decent amount of stowage in the cabin, too, and despite the car’s relatively rakish shape, the boot is a good size. You have 528 litres to play with when the seats are upright, and that expands to 1642 when you fold down the 60/40 split rear seats. In both cases, those figures are more than in a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. The nice, wide opening helps when you’re loading and unloading, as does the flat floor (seats up or down), but intruding arches narrow the space and mean it’s not totally square.
Ride and handling
The i30’s suspension does an impressive job of keeping occupants isolated from ruts, scars and potholes and while the ride is a little pattery at low speeds, it's pretty comfortable most of the time and things smooth out further when you head out of town. There is, however, some body roll in corners, which can make the car feel a wee bit sloppy through a series of bends. Overall, though, it's the steering that's the i30’s biggest problem. It always feels rather vague, whichever of the three ‘Flex steer’ settings you have it in, and with a large dead spot around the straight-ahead position, it doesn’t inspire much confidence. However, it’s light enough to make parking a doddle.
The Tourer has a much more limited engine range than the hatchback, with just one petrol engine (a 1.6 with 118bhp) and two diesel units (both 1.6s with either 109- or 134bhp, the latter available with top Premium trim only) to choose from. Of these, we’ve driven only the lower-powered diesel, which is a decent engine that will be good for business users doing plenty of motorway miles, thanks to its impressive efficiency and low CO2 emissions. It’s not the most refined engine, particularly when you rev it hard, but the low- to mind-range response is so good that there’s no real need to extend the engine much beyond that. The only real disappointment is that the car generates lots of tyre noise at motorway speeds.
Above all, the i30 Tourer is very temptingly priced, and is great value for money. If you're a company car driver, you should take a close look at the 1.6 CRDi 110 Blue Drive, which emits only 102g/km of CO2 (or 109 with the optional automatic gearbox) and averages an impressive 72.4mpg, officially at least. The more powerful diesel engine isn’t far behind, but the petrol engine is a little more disappointing. Likewise, the i30's resale values are about on par with those of a Ford Focus, but aren't as strong as a VW Golf's.
Traditionally, the i30 has had an average showing in customer satisfaction surveys, with owners praising reasonable insurance costs and the space up front, but disliking the price of servicing and the effectiveness of the air-con. Overall, Hyundais generally have a good reputation for reliability, and we can see no reason why the i30 should buck this trend. If things do go wrong, you’ve at least got the reassurance of a five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which is transferrable to the next owner.
The Hyundai i30 – as a hatchback – has been awarded a maximum five-star rating from crash test body Euro NCAP, and among its active safety features are Brake- and Hill Assist systems, a vehicle stability management system and brake lights that flash during an emergency stop. There’s also a tyre pressure monitoring system and six airbags fitted, with a driver's knee bag added on Premium trim. However, you can’t specify things like a lane departure warning system, a blind spot monitor or autonomous braking, which are available on some similarly sized rivals.
There are four trim levels on the i30 Tourer, all bringing a healthy amount of kit. Entry level S trim gets keyless entry, a USB socket, Bluetooth with steering wheel controls, and air-conditioning as standard. Our favourite trim, SE, adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, driver's electric lumbar support, rear parking sensors, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearknob. SE Nav brings touch-screen sat-nav and a rear view camera, while Premium trim adds xenon headlights, 17-inch alloys, leather-trimmed heated seats and steering wheel, climate control and smart key with engine stop/start button.
Simply because it has all the essential merits you really want from an everyday family estate. Hyundai has proved the i30 can compete with some of the best cars in the class, and this is a fine alternative to estate versions of the Focus, Astra and Golf. Its reassuring warranty gives buyers peace of mind, the boot is spacious, and while it’s not the best-driving family car, it’ll still be plenty good enough for most people.