A week with… a Hyundai i30

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A new version of the VW Golf for long warranty enthusiasts

Day 1: The old i30 was quite good. It was also only four years old and already there’s this new one. I think this officially means that, in their grand plan to smash Toyota and Volkswagen, Hyundai are Not Mucking About. The old car was a bit frumpy. This one is mad and swoopy. The front reminds me of that green ghoul that eats all the hot dogs in Ghostbusters. An under-rated inspiration for car design.

Took the i30 for a quick drive. Can confirm that the engine makes it go, the brakes make it stop, the steering wheel enables changes of direction. In all major respects, it is a car. A car with a decent ride. Which is good.

Day 2: It’s quite warm out. Uniquely amongst family hatchbacks, the i30 has two auto modes on its climate control rather than the usual one. There’s a ‘soft’ setting and then the opposite of that which is… no, I’m sorry, you’re wrong, it’s actually ‘fast’. An unusually lavish (if grammatically confusing) detail.

Day 3: According to Hyundai’s bumf, their Korean plant annually turns out eight million tonnes of steel for car production. By coincidence, my wife has just ordered eight million tonnes of light fixtures which need picking up from the shop. Remarkably, everything fits into the back. I’m going to describe this car as ‘roomy’.

Day 4: Driving around in the i30 trying to think of anything to say about it. Started wondering why Hyundai don’t make more of their Korean-ness. I’ve heard it’s a groovy place. I know their food is great and they have that booze called soju which is delicious, even though it once made a friend of mine fall over and cut his head open in a restaurant. Turns out, this car is barely Korean at all. It was designed in Germany and made in the Czech Republic.

Day 5: Hyundai wants to crack Europe. Clearly, one of the ways they will do this is by copying VW. Many of the i30’s details – the blue instrument lighting, the reversing camera that pops out under the badge, even the design of the light above the sun visor – are strangely familiar. I think they thought the ‘like a Golf’ ad campaign was a suggestion.

Day 6: Went for a proper drive in the i30. The ride remains very good and the gearlever can be moved satisfyingly from second to third using that pad bit below your thumb that I don’t know the medical name of. The steering is not so good. For no apparent reason it has three modes and not one of them is quite right. ‘Sport’ is artificially heavy and beyond a quarter turn of lock feels like there might be a stick jammed in the mechanism. ‘Comfort’ is so light it gives the impression that the wheel is connected to the rack by a moist breeze. This leaves ‘normal’ which is the best compromise, as long as you remember that all compromises are mushy and vague.

Noticed that if you insist on driving like a helmsmith, the i30 understeers. I don’t know why I mention this. If I said to my Godmother that she shouldn’t buy an i30 because it suffers from understeer she would say, ‘Sorry, I don’t know why undersdear is. Does it have that nice lady in the dashboard who stops you getting lost?’ This model does, actually. It also costs £20,295. Mind you, I specced up a Golf to the same level and it was more than £23,000.

Drove over 100 miles in town, on the motorway and then like a bit of a bellend cross country. The i30’s computer thinks it still averaged 50mpg. Better yet, this model is claimed to produce 100g/km so (for now) it gets free road tax. For a five door family car that can move at a satisfactory rate under its own power, that’s good. Someone should go over to Hyundai’s powertrain laboratory in Korea and ask how the bloody hell they’re doing this. Could you also buy me some soju while you’re over there.

Day 7: Struggling to think of anything particularly bad to say about the i30. It looks fine, it’s decent enough to drive, it doesn’t cause hardening of the arteries or give you eczema. You might find it a bit wanting if you’re really into driving. Most people aren’t. That’s what this car is then – it’s the kind of thing I would recommend to a friend who isn’t especially into cars. In fact, I just have. And he really likes it.

This Hyundai i30 was the snappily named Style Nav CRDi Blue Drive model which has a 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine making 126bhp and 192 lb ft. It is claimed to go from 0 to 60 in 10.9 seconds and have a top speed of 117mph. 


  1. Aye, very good – although I was waiting for “The Hyundai i30 Style Nav CRDi Blue Drive 1.6 is a bitch. And I spanked it”.

    A decent, if alternative, way of reviewing cars and certainly an amusing diversion from daily life. Keep it up!

  2. I won’t be going crispy on two graham’s for that! Dullard

  3. Top stuff, made me chuckle. More please.

  4. Something that I can finally understand from Sniff. Keep it up!

  5. These are the Cayennes to your 911s, aren’t they? Very well, if press cars must be justified, carry on.

  6. I know this looks like another shitty car blog on the press car blag but the truth is that, thanks to the day job(s), the press cars come and go anyway. This is really just an excuse to share some bollocks about them that I don’t have an outlet for elsewhere. It’s the contract engineering business to the 911s. Or, erm, something.

  7. That thumb bit – its called the “Thenor” apparently.

    Last seem in the Lord of the Rings trilogy fighting Orcs…

  8. Sorry – “Thenar”!

  9. You could fundle my bundles for a snatch under a Graham and a half, but a few pigeons over two Grahams is well over the Rachel! At that kind of Lucretia I could be greasing up my Faldo for a shiny schnitzel threesome on its second Gary. These’ll be turding up the spaniels curtains for a long time if they don’t give their cocks a wasping to the tune of a couple of dozen geese. For the last time Richard, it’ll go limp if you keep leaving it out on the balcony. Panty.

  10. Whilst we’re on medical definitions, A ‘cross country bellend’ is a chafing injury caused by a combination of jeans, leather seats, and broken air conditioning.

    Or it’s an inexplicably angry mountain-biker.

  11. Wasn’t expecting to like the idea but definitely did, good effort Mr Sniff. Also the good thing is that if the cars come anyway for the mag/tv work it means you don’t need to pander to car companies without risk of ending up on a childish ‘blacklist’. No mythical triangles either, like it.

  12. I want a Dab Of Oppo t-shirt. Large. But your boy The-t-shirt-builder says he doesn’t have any and won’t be building any more.

  13. In other news, Hyundai will not sell an i30 in green any more.
    They do sell it in “Phantom Black” to maintain the Ghostbustery theme.

    Don’t believe me :
    There is an empty spot on the colour palette where green was.
    Compare it with the Veloster, that comes in green and if anything looks more like the hotdog guzzling ghost.

  14. Great alternative take on a car review, half-way between a review and a long-term test. In my opinion what would help still would be more direct comparisons to other cars (e.g. is it more/less spacious than a Focus/Golf etc.), of course to the extent that you’ve had contact with said other cars in recent past. Plus a bit more coverage on the quality and interior, maybe – I know that’s not your cup of tea, but it would make the review more complete.

    But a great read nonetheless, really hope you make this a regular feature!

  15. Will this car, being designed in Jerry-land and assembled in bankrupt Europe with it’s petty-fogging rules and it’s intention to strip us, yes us, Great Britain, of our sovereignty and take away our glorious pound affect the value of my house ?
    Not a mention of wether it will fit in my garage.
    That nice Mr Benton did far better road tests.

  16. I like cheese.

  17. Nah! this isn’t Sniff.

  18. Aha; it was subtle, but I found the hidden joke – £20,295 for a small Hyundai hatchback! It was a joke, right?…

  19. As a representative reader of your erstwhile news-sheet, I think you should spend a week with a Rolls Royce Phantom, a Lamborghini Aventador and some sort of Zonda.

    Your reviews have a major impact on my buying decisions, and at least 312 of High Net Worth friends also make all their fleet purchasing decisions after checking with Sniff Petrol.

    You’re welcome.

  20. Whatever happened to Roy Lanchester?

  21. I just can’t believe that in Australia we can’t not get another insufficient negative alternative to something unlike what this isn’t.
    That, and luxury car taxes.

  22. “In all major respects, it is a car.”

    Had me laughng from there.

  23. *laughing

  24. “Hyundai i30 Style Nav CRDi Blue Drive 1.6 ” eh?
    That works out at around £596 per digit of the ridiculous model name.
    Can I just have a Hyundai i30 instead?

    Then again, can I not and just say I did?

  25. As a colonial, it always amuses me to see small hatchbacks referred to as “family cars” in the old country.

  26. Ironically most family cars don’t have that many laughing children dismissing the fumes. Which is why those little cars are crucial. But it takes so much work to transform something as vital as this into a source of pride and sushi.

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