Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Hyundai i30 2021 review: Active sedan

The base model version of the i30 sedan is known as Active. Does it look entry-spec to you?

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Urban score

3.5/5

The Hyundai i30 is better known as a hatchback, but the brand has recently added a sedan variant to its ranks. 

That’s nothing new. For years there has been an i30-sized small sedan known as the Elantra, but now the brand gets to bundle both sales figures under one nameplate, while also allowing customers a chance to have a more well-known badge on their small sedan.

But it’s fair to say the sedan version of the i30 is at odds with the hatchback in terms of styling and size. It’s considerably larger, and looks nothing like the hatch. It’s even on a different platform, according to Hyundai.

So for this UrbanGuide test we’ve got the base model i30 Active sedan to see if it has any of the likeable traits of the hatch for around town driving, despite its bigger body and very different approach to the ‘i30’ nameplate.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The i30 Active sedan differs from the i30 hatch in that the base model is still called the Active. The i30 hatch base model is just known as i30 now. 

Now that we’re past the point of your mind being blown, here’s the price for the i30 Active sedan - it’s $24,790 (MSRP) for the six-speed manual version that hardly anyone will buy, while the automatic model tested here is $26,790 (MSRP - that’s the price before on-road costs, not a drive-away price).

Even at this attractive starting price point, the Active model comes handsomely equipped with standard features, including black leather seat trim, wireless smartphone charging, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with USB connect and wireless Apple CarPlay and (and USB-connect Android Auto), a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an electronic park brake, heated power adjustable side mirrors, a 4.2-inch driver info screen and manual air-conditioning. 

The Active misses out on the bigger 10.25-inch media screen. The Active misses out on the bigger 10.25-inch media screen.

It has a standard reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and it runs halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights (the headlights are auto dusk sensing, too), and rides on 17-inch alloy wheels with a full size alloy spare. But weirdly, the boot on this spec of i30 sedan doesn’t have a remote release button - like, there’s no button on the boot, and you can’t kick under the tailgate to auto open it. 

The Active wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The Active wears 17-inch alloy wheels.

There are some other desirable items missing, as you’d expect for a sub-$30k model. There’s no keyless entry or push-button start, no front parking sensors, and the next spec up scores a bigger 10.25-inch media screen and a Bose eight-speaker stereo, and a 10.25-inch digital dashboard. 

In short, if you want a nicer i30 sedan, the step up to the Elite (at $30,790) seems easily justified.

And while the i30 Active has a pretty decent safety kit bag, again, you get a better gear list if you choose the Elite. More on that in the safety section below.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Is the new i30 sedan the most angular and angry small sedan on the market? I’d say so.

Although ‘small’ is maybe a bit misleading, because the i30 sedan is 4650mm long. That’s more than a foot longer than the i30 hatch, and the sedan has a pretty sleek profile thanks to only being 1430mm tall and with broad shoulders, at 1825mm wide.

I was also left questioning the exaggerated lines at the rear of the car. I was also left questioning the exaggerated lines at the rear of the car.

Now, the styling won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but I think that’s exactly what Hyundai has tried to get at with its current generation of sedans. The i30 sedan and the larger Sonata sedan both have intriguing (or argument-starting) angles and lines that defy convention (and arguably logic).

I wonder how much convincing the company’s body-work engineers required to sign off on those creases in the doors - that has to be a complex pressing - and it means that the fit and finish needs to be spot on, because if the ‘Zorro’ style slashes don’t line up on the doors… On our car everything looked good, but I couldn’t help but wonder how those leading edges will hold up to car park door dings.

The new i30 is the most angular and angry small sedan on the market. The new i30 is the most angular and angry small sedan on the market.

I was also left questioning the exaggerated lines at the rear of the car. I like the horizontal bar across the boot lid, but again, the creases back there are a little overstated.

And all of those edges are slightly at odds with the softer front end, with the blingy grille, fussy bonnet finish and oddly shaped headlights. 

The i30 sedan measures in at 4650mm long. The i30 sedan measures in at 4650mm long.

To me, it almost looks like three different people were allocated the front, side and rear designs of this car. It’s hard to call it cohesive, especially in Active spec, and in white. I know it looks better on the N-Line sporty model, and maybe that’s the car this look was designed for - not the sub-$30K airport rental special.

Inside, the design is also eye-catching - at a glance, you’re getting some really interesting lines across the dashboard. But look a little closer and the Active spec really doesn’t feel as special as it should. Take a look at the interior pictures below.

The interior of the i30 Active sedan is a mixed bag. The interior of the i30 Active sedan is a mixed bag.

How practical is the space inside?

The interior of the i30 Active sedan is a mixed bag.

That may seem harsh, but the reason it that it’s such an interesting design outside, and even at a glance inside, that the materials and finishes, and the knobs, dials and even the screens look out of touch with the intent of this model.

The interior of the i30 Active sedan is a mixed bag. The interior of the i30 Active sedan is a mixed bag.

For instance, the dashboard design is eye-catching as soon as you sit inside. It has some really interesting lines, including a beautiful soft chrome vent finish that runs the width of the dashboard, a bit like some German luxury cars. Above that are large black plastic panel sections where larger media screens exist in the upper models. 

But in this spec you get an 8.0-inch screen, which is okay in terms of size, but the screen quality seems cheap and pixelated compared with some of Hyundai’s other recent efforts. I had some issues setting up wireless Apple CarPlay - in fact, it was a massive pain, and it took me honestly three days before it worked properly. 

The 8.0-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8.0-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

At the very least there are two USB-A ports up front and wireless phone charging as well, and thankfully there are volume and tuning knobs down the sides of the screen. 

In front of the driver, rather than the 10.25-inch digital display it was clearly designed for, there’s a conventional pair of dials and a small digital screen. The design of those dash elements are way too sporty in their aim, and look at odds with the rest of the cabin. 

There’s a conventional pair of dials and a small digital screen. There’s a conventional pair of dials and a small digital screen.

Also at odds is the steering wheel, which features an interesting design. It’s not to my taste, but still adds a bit of visual appeal.

But the centre console area is very basic and frankly looks cheap, with dials that would’ve been at home in a 2011 Hyundai ix35 - yet they have somehow managed to find themselves into this all new redesigned cabin.

The cheap plastic spreads across the dashboard. The cheap plastic spreads across the dashboard.

The cheap plastic spreads across the dashboard onto the doors and to the back. It just feels like you’re driving a very basic car.

Between the driver and centre console is a pair of large adjustable cup holders, and there’s a big grab handle for the passenger which seems a bit strange and too racy for this trim grade. There’s a covered centre console bin which is large enough.

The seats are covered in black leather. The seats are covered in black leather.

The front door pockets are oddly shaped - you have to put a bottle in tilted to try and make it fit. I’m really not a fan of the wannabe Mercedes Burmester speaker design finishes, and in fact there’s a lot of that silvery chrome that - apart from the section across the dashboard - looks a bit tryhard.

But as has always been the case with the Elantra, and now with the new i30 sedan, there is plenty of backseat space. 

With the driver seat set for me - I’m 182cm/6’0” - I had just enough toe room, plenty of knee room and okay headroom as well. There are some other small sedans in this class that can’t claim the same level of space as this car offers. 

There's plenty of rear knee room and okay headroom. There's plenty of rear knee room and okay headroom.

There are bottle holders in the doors, a flip down armrest with cupholders, one mesh map pocket, and rear seat directional air vents - which is a big bonus - but there are no charging points.

The rear seat does fold 60:40 for a split fold long item loading, and there are triggers in the boot for that. The cargo hold is huge, at 474 litres (VDA) with five seats up, and there’s a full size spare under the boot floor. But remember, the boot doesn’t have a button on it, which is just another sign of cost-cutting for this grade of i30 sedan. 

  • Boot space is rated at 474 litres. Boot space is rated at 474 litres.
  • The rear seat does fold 60:40 for a split fold long item loading. The rear seat does fold 60:40 for a split fold long item loading.
  • All three of our suitcases could fit in the back of the i30. All three of our suitcases could fit in the back of the i30.
  • There’s a full size spare under the boot floor. There’s a full size spare under the boot floor.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The i30 sedan range is split. Choose one of the cheaper options, like this Active model, and you get a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 117kW of power (at 6200rpm) and 191Nm of torque (at 4500rpm). That’s okay for the class, but nothing special.

Get the N-Line version and you get a more fitting powertrain, a 1.6-litre turbo producing 150kW (at 6000rpm) and 265Nm (from 1500-4500rpm). As you can see, the power and torque bands are vastly different - the turbo doesn’t need to be worked as hard as the non-turbo model.

The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 117kW/191Nm. The 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 117kW/191Nm.

We’ll get to how the engine goes in the driving section below, but you’ll need to know that it runs a six-speed automatic transmission and is front-wheel drive (2WD/FWD). You can get a six-speed manual if you want it, but that’s a very small percentage of sales.

Towing is rated to 610kg for an unbraked trailer or 1200kg for a braked trailer for the i30 2.0L sedan. 

How much fuel does it consume?

The official combined cycle fuel consumption for the i30 Active sedan is 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres, whether you choose manual or automatic.

On test, we saw a little higher than that across a mix of driving, with a recorded 8.5L/100km over urban, highway and back road testing.

There’s no clever fuel-saving tech here - no hybrid available (check out the Corolla sedan if you want a fuel miser - it claims to use half the fuel of this car!) - and there’s not even engine start-stop technology.

Fuel tank capacity is 47 litres.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Hyundai i30 sedan has not yet been given a score from ANCAP, though it may not get the maximum rating based on the equipment and tech fitted.

The Active grade gets some of the stuff you want, but not the lot. For instance, there’s autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works at city speeds (with cyclist and pedestrian detection), as well as at highway speeds, and there’s a system called Junction Turning Assist which can brake the car if it thinks you’re about to try and make it through a gap that you won’t.

There’s adaptive cruise control (with stop and go - great for traffic jams) with Lane Following Assist, plus there is lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance.

This grade misses out on blind spot warning/blind spot collision avoidance steering, which is a shame, plus there is no rear cross-traffic alert or auto-braking on the Active grade, either. Rear cross-traffic alert is also reserved for higher spec models - in the Elite up it’s available with an auto-braking function. 

There’s a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, and the i30 sedan comes with six airbags - dual front, front side and full-length curtain - but note there is no front-centre airbag coverage, which is becoming more common. 

The Active comes equipped with a reversing camera. The Active comes equipped with a reversing camera.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Hyundai has been strong in the ownership game for a while now. Years ago it offered one of the strongest warranties in the game - it’s the same now as it was then, a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. But now you can get seven years with a Kia Cerato, while the Toyota Corolla warranty plan extends out to seven years for the powertrain if you maintain logbook servicing.

The brand offers a few options for servicing your car, and the maintenance intervals are 12 months/15,000km for the 2.0L engine (the 1.6T in the N-Line needs servicing every 10,000km).

You can prepay a package for three years/45,000km ($897), four years/60,000km ($1196) or five years/75,000km ($1495). That means if you pre-purchase servicing, you can roll it in to your finance payments, and that means there’s one less thing to budget for.

There’s also the choice of pay-as-you-go servicing. There’s a lifetime capped price servicing plan, and the average annual price over five years/75,000km is $315.20, so there’s a slight advantage financially to prepay your servicing (annually, it works out at $299).

Service your car with a Hyundai workshop and you get roadside assistance included at no cost for up to 10 years, too. 

What's it like to drive around town?

Hyundai has got some parts of the drive experience bang-on here. 

The ride is exceptionally good, dealing with urban lumps and bumps at urban speeds really well. There’s little loss of composure, despite some ‘tram-tracking’ or ‘tram-lining’ (where the car’s tyres follow the grooves in the road) but it’s never to an annoying level. 

The front suspension is a Macpherson setup, while the rear is a torsion beam, but it feels really well settled and comfortable and allows for quick direction changes without too much body roll, too. It is suitably well sorted for roundabouts, intersections and highway lane changes.

The suspension has been tuned for Australia, and so has the steering. It is very direct and quick responding, but it does feel a little bit like it’s always trying to reset to the centre position, which can feel as though you are fighting it and it can be fatiguing on your arms. The active lane keeping system works really well and isn’t too interruptive.

If you do a lot of highway commuting in peak hours you’ll appreciate the adaptive cruise control, which can maintain a distance and come to a complete halt in traffic, and you just need to tap the accelerator or the + button on the steering wheel to get moving again. The only issue is that it can be a bit slow to react when traffic ahead moves away - it leaves a large gap and people behind you can get impatient with that. 

The less impressive component of the drive experience is under the bonnet. The engine is okay, but it really isn’t anything more than that.

The transmission - while trying to make the most of not much power and torque - does a good job, despite having a tendency to opt for a higher gear to try and save fuel. 

It’s not an enthusiastic engine and I wouldn’t say that it’s overly peppy either, but it does what it's supposed to do, in that it moves along fuss-free and doesn’t feel drastically underpowered, so for urban drivers it should be fine if not exciting or overly enjoyable.

If I were in the market for an i30 sedan, I’d definitely be considering stepping up even further than the Elite for its additional equipment, and shelling out for the i30 N-Line for the 1.6-litre turbo engine - though that does push the price up considerably.

I wouldn’t buy the Active spec of this car, but I would consider a Hyundai i30 sedan in a different grade. 

It’s not a bad car, but you are getting a cheap feeling car for a relatively budget-friendly price. And if you’re okay with that, you’re still getting a lot of likeable features. I just honestly think you’ll be a lot happier if you spend a little more and go for the feature-rich Elite or the more enthralling to drive N-Line model.

$26,790

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Urban score

3.5/5
Price Guide

$26,790

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.