2021 Hyundai i30 review

  • Doors and Seats
  • Engine
  • Engine Power
  • Fuel
  • Manufacturer
  • Transmission
  • Warranty
  • Ancap Safety

The 2021 Hyundai i30 drives a hard bargain in base specification, and should be amongst the consideration set of today’s hatchback buyers.

  • Great temperament of ride quality around town
  • Improved safety credentials with this year’s facelift
  • Adaptive cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring in base spec

  • Big adults will start to run out of space inside
  • Not as efficient as others in the segment
  • Missing some safety features of higher grades

Sometimes it’s the simplest and most straightforward motoring that is the most compelling. Something like this base-specification 2021 Hyundai i30 could be the perfect car for many, but is in threat of being overlooked.

Unlike many other cars, the Hyundai i30 hatchback isn’t attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades. Its mission is simple: cost-effective, safe and comfortable. Let’s do some investigating and see just how effective the 2021 Hyundai i30 is at filling the brief.

And with much of the more premium accoutrement stripped away, it’s easy to argue that this entry-level 2021 i30 packs the most punch of the range.

While this generation i30 first hit the streets back in 2016, you’re looking here at a 2021 facelift for the model. The look has been updated, with a new grille and daytime running light design, as well as some flash new alloy wheels for this base model, along with a rejig of general technology.

There’s now more safety technology for all grade levels of i30, as well as better infotainment.

The rub here is that prices have gone up by nearly $3000, which pushes the tip-in point of the budget-conscious i30 considerably higher.

Is it worth the extra dosh, and is it worth considering? It seems that every Derrick and their dog is buying an SUV these days, and even the once ubiquitous hatchback is being pushed into something of a niche consideration.

Naturally, the i30 is missing the likes of open-pore woods and recycled plastics that adorn the interiors of expensive cars. But at the same time, it’s not exactly a sea of depressing hard plastics and urethane. Yes, some scratchy basic materials are here, but it feels well made and – in my opinion – looks fine.

Turn-key start and manual air-conditioning controls are a couple of clear penalties you get for sticking to the base level.

The cloth seats offer decent manual adjustment, and there is tilt and reach adjustment through the steering column. Power outlets include single USB 12V points up front, along with an additional 12V point in the centre console.

Because there is an electric handbrake in this i30, you’re afforded some additional storage space, which helps the interior layout feel a little more uncluttered. There is extra storage in the lidded compartment up front as well, which is big enough to fit a big modern smartphone inside.

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In the second row, there’s enough space for adults to fit in the back. You might have some knees up against seat-backs, especially if the adults are of the taller variety. However, for the application, I’d call it good enough.

Air vents are a welcome addition for the second-row occupants, but you might have to call in a favour up front if you need to charge your phone – there are no power outlets in the back.

2021 Hyundai i30
Seats Five
Boot volume 395L / 1301L
Length 4340mm
Width 1795mm
Height 1455mm
Wheelbase 2650mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

The 8.0 inches of infotainment display feels generous for this base-spec i30. It wasn’t that long ago this was standard fare on higher-specced cars. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included, both of which work either wired or wirelessly.

And while wireless connectivity is another feature to espouse as attractive and desirable in new cars, my experience so far is it’s flawed. While there is some small convenience in not having to physically plug your phone in, wireless connections seem to be less stable and very power hungry, so you’ll need to recharge your phone at some stage by plugging it in anyway.

You will need to connect your phone up in the base-specification i30 for directions, as the infotainment system doesn’t have native navigation. There’s no digital radio either for that matter, so you’ll need to lean on your phone – and data – for that sort of thing.

The operating system is good. It’s easy to use and get around the different (mostly basic) functions via buttons and dials. I like the customisable buttons, and the volume dial allows easy manipulation while driving.

Good news with this update to the 2021 Hyundai i30 is that active safety technology has trickled down into the base-specification model. Hyundai calls it ‘SmartSense’, and it includes collision-avoidance assist, driver-attention warning, lane-keeping assist and lane-following assist as standard.

Blind-spot monitoring is missing, however, as are front parking sensors. But with an automatic transmission fitted, the base i30 also gets smart cruise control with stop-and-go functionality for heavy traffic. There are also rear parking sensors and a decent-quality reversing camera.

That is all good stuff and improves the credentials of the i30 against newer rivals. Some other technology – elements that would be important for many buyers out there – would be blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning, and safe-exit warning.

In our experience with the i30, lane-departure warning can be tiresome while driving any faster than 40km/h, kicking in and tugging against the wheel as you stay within your lane markings. While it’s certainly good technology to have, I found myself turning it off almost every time.

Tyre pressure monitoring is a great inclusion for the base specification from a safety and convenience point of view. There’s a chance it could also save a few dollars if you don’t trash a tyre (or wheel even) when you inadvertently lose pressure.

Driver-attention warning could be handy for long drives, and the digital speed readout helps you keep an eye on your speed.

2021 Hyundai i30
ANCAP rating Five stars (tested 2017)
Safety report Link

This is a two-edged sword. While the inclusions of extra tech and equipment are always helpful to keep an aging platform fresh, this neck of the woods is more about bang-for-buck than other segments. So, many will look purely at asking price and go from there.

Let’s compare the prices of some base-spec rivals with an automatic transmission and before on-road costs. Toyota’s Corolla is there, which starts at $25,395 for the Ascent Sport. The Mazda 3 goes for $26,590 in G20 Pure guise, and the somewhat-related Kia Cerato starts at $24,990 for S specification. Volkswagen’s Golf has flown the coop somewhat with a $29,350 starting price, as has the Honda Civic at $31,000 drive-away.

From that point of view, the i30 sits on solid ground as a contender. It’s got some things that competitors don’t have, but gives away some points in other regards. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps the smaller details of no keyless entry or push-button start could get the base-level i30 off on the wrong foot.

However, the good news is that the i30 doesn’t pull any punches in terms of general drivability and ride comfort. It’s a really solid option in this regard, and puts it right in the mix of serious consideration.

Servicing comes through a pre-paid program set at $897 for three years, $1196 for four years or $1495 for five years. Service intervals are at a fairly typical 15,000km or 12 months. This works out to be $299 per year. However, unlike some other brands, this capped-price servicing program needs to be paid up-front as a lump sum.

The warranty offering is also typical: five years and unlimited kilometres.

At a glance 2021 Hyundai i30
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months / 15,000km
Servicing costs $897 (3yrs) | $1495 (5yrs)
Fuel cons. (claimed) 7.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 8.6L/100km
Fuel type 91RON petrol
Fuel tank size 50L

My first impressions of this i30 are positive. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine feels quite perky and responsive, with a well-weighted throttle response. Throttle calibration can sometimes fall into the trap of being overactive, as manufacturers attempt to tune a sense of responsiveness as you begin pressing the skinny pedal.

With 120kW at 6200rpm and 203Nm at 4700rpm – running through a six-speed automatic gearbox – engine outputs are generally on par for the class. And while automatic gearboxes with more than six ratios are fast becoming the norm these days, the six-speed i30 doesn’t feel wanting in this regard.

The torque-converter gearbox responds quickly and smoothly to big throttle inputs, shifting down one or two gears for the extra punch required, and a few selectable driving modes can either liven up or dull down how aggresively the i30 responds.

Something very typical for Hyundais these days, the i30 has great ride characteristics – there is no big or inherent weakness to stumble across as you take on the general daily mix of speeds and road surfaces. Of course, don’t compare it to something more premium or more expensive. The i30 doesn’t have the ability to really smooth out rough surfaces. But on the whole, it’s plenty comfortable and more than acceptable.

Its handling characteristics also hit the nail on the head for the application. More expensive N-Line and N variants are there for more aggressive suspension tunes for a more impressive sporting drive, but this more humble variant holds onto the road well as the tyres load up on grip through corners. Combine a decent torque output and a pleasant responsiveness through the powertrain, and the i30 proved to be enjoyable – without being exciting – to drive.

Important touchpoints like the steering wheel and gearshifter feel premium, especially for the base-specification i30, with some nice materials and interesting design. Perhaps the days of the old one-piece urethane steering wheel are numbered. The seats are also comfortable, but with good bolstering for everyday usage.

Its highway performance isn’t as good as the around-town experience, with a bit of road noise starting to emanate through the cabin as you hit triple digits. And you’ll notice the engine start to dig a little deeper at highway speeds as well. This is all quite typical for the class.

Fuel consumption isn’t as good as other more advanced powertrains that employ electric hybridisation or forced induction. But at 8.6L/100km overall – a little more than 1L/100km worse than the claim – it’s also not something I would call a deal-breaker.

Key details 2021 Hyundai i30
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 120kW @ 6200rpm
Torque 203Nm @ 4700rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission 6-speed torque convertor automatic
Power to weight ratio 87.0kW/t
Weight 1338kg
Tow rating 600kg unbraked / 1200kg braked
Turning circle 10.6m

After spending a week with this i30, one can clearly see why this generation Hyundai hatchback has been an enduringly popular option in the segment. Chief amongst the strong points is general deportment. It rides, drives and steers quite well, and remains one of the better options in the segment on this basis.

There isn’t as much razzle or dazzle in the design and appearance in comparison to other popular choices like the Mazda 3 or Toyota Corolla. That might suit some buyers’ tastes better, however, and this i30 does retain decent space through the second row and boot in comparison.

And while its safety credentials have been boosted with the latest update, I feel that the i30 would be almost beyond reproach if Hyundai went to the length of adding in blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert in this base model.

Ratings Breakdown

2021 Hyundai i30 Hatchback

8.0/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

Read more about Sam Purcell