2012 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel Manual Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Feature-rich, Golf-level refinement, priced below diesel rivals.
What's Not
Spacesaver spare but no cargo gain; 1.6 no match for 2.0 litre rivals.
Hefty dash of aesthetic sass, competes with Golf on most levels.
Malcolm Flynn | Sep, 28 2012 | 7 Comments


Vehicle Style:Small Five-Door Hatch
Price: $23,590 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.5l/100km | tested: 5.9l/100km



Hyundai’s new i30 range has impressed a few of us here at TMR, and it seems Australia agrees. Since its local launch in May, sales have been very strong.

In terms of year-to-date sales (to August 31), the i30 sits fourth in the small car segment, Australia’s largest and most competitive vehicle sales category. Ahead of it, the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Holden Cruze occupy the top three spots.

Tested here in entry-level Active trim with the six-speed manual, this spec is currently Australia’s cheapest diesel small car by $3400.

Its official 4.5 l/100km combined fuel figure is only bettered in this segment by the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion’s 3.8 l/100km and Citroen C4 e-HDi Seduction’s 4.2 l/100km figures. But the Hyundai costs a significant $5600 and $4400 less than each respectively.

Put all this together, and you’ve got a car that’s got more than a bit going for it.



Quality: Fit and finish is in line with the impressive standard set by other recent Hyundai models, but still beneath the inevitable comparison with Volkswagen’s Golf.

Some interior plastics remain harder to the touch than we’d prefer and the ‘door close’ test fails to produce the drum skin-taut ‘thunk’ of the German.

Overall quality is comparable with the current Toyota Corolla, though it will be interesting to see how the i30 fares against the upcoming new model.

Comfort: Cabin ergonomics are very good. Tilt and reach adjustable steering is standard. The front seats offer a great balance of comfort and support, while rear seat accommodation is in line with the i30’s key rivals.

The non-leather steering wheel is forgivable at this price point, but the absence of rear-seat aircon vents found on Elite and Premium models is an unfortunate omission.

Equipment: Despite the Active being the i30’s entry level model, there’s no shortage of convenience items on its spec list.

These include a multifunction trip computer, Bluetooth and audio streaming, cruise control, five-inch touchscreen multimedia interface, front foglamps, chilled glovebox and rear parking sensors.

Kudos is also due for the dual in-dash power sockets along with USB and auxiliary ports, with an additional power socket in the cargo area.

Notably, the Active is the only i30 spec level to come with a space-saver spare wheel. Elite and Premium models come with a full-size alloy spare, but offer no less cargo capacity than the Active. This choice seems bizarre when space remains for a proper full-size wheel.

One surprising feature at this price level is the i30’s Flex Steer system. Offering ‘Comfort’, ‘Normal’, and ‘Sport’ modes, which varies the level of electronic steering assistance.

In practice though, it’s largely a gimmick: we found ‘Normal’ mode suitable for everyday use.

Storage: There’s no shortage of oddment storage, with a sizeable cavity for phone and wallet storage beneath the center stack, along with cupholders in the front, bottle holders in all doors, with a usefully deep center console bin balancing the shallow glovebox.

Cargo capacity is rated at 378 litres (VDA, seats up), which puts the i30 at the pointy end of the small hatch segment, while folding the 60/40 rear backrest flat requires some effort to release the seat base from its mechanism.



Driveability: The i30’s 94kW 1.6 litre turbodiesel delivers surprising levels of refinement for a small-capacity oiler, and hauls the 1285kg manual Active along better than a 1.6 litre ought to.

Maximum torque of 260Nm is developed through a relatively narrow 1900-2750rpm band, but it never feels peaky.

Four-up with luggage, the diesel copes in sixth-gear surprisingly well with gradient changes on the highway, with the cruise control doing a good job of maintaining cruising speed.

Overtaking briskly, or jumping into a ‘hole’ in a line of traffic, is also drama-free but perhaps not as quick as some of the bigger 2.0 litre diesels in this category.

Around town, the efficiency-biased tall gearing means you’ll find yourself using the gearbox more than expected, but the genuine all-round 5.9 l/100km average fuel consumption on test makes the small additional effort worthwhile.

The six-speed manual itself is an impressive unit in its action, with a shift feel and selector ‘click’ eerily reminiscent of most Volkswagen Group manuals.

Refinement: The i30’s ride comfort also feels very ‘Golf’ and a credit to Hyundai’s local suspension tuning.

The Active’s smaller 16-inch wheels and tall 55-series rubber are the icing on the ride cake though, and feel a world away from the harshness of the 18-inch wheeled Veloster we tested earlier this year.

Suspension: On paper, the new i30’s torsion-beam rear suspension seems to be a backward step over the previous model’s independent setup, but its real-world performance disguises any disadvantage.

Front suspension is via conventional struts, and together they shone over Sydney’s notorious broken cement roads.

Braking:Discs all round provide good predictable stopping around town, but lack feel when put to work on a twisty road.



ANCAP rating: 5 Stars

Safety features: Standard are driver and passenger airbags, full-length curtain airbags, side impact airbags and a driver’s knee airbags, along with stability control, ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution and seatbelt warning chime.



Warranty: Five year/Unlimited kilometres

Service costs: Hyundai offers capped price iCare servicing at $289 per service, with 15,000km intervals.



Mazda3 MZR-CD diesel hatch ($27,360) - The diesel version of the current segment leader’s larger 2.2 litre engine offers stronger performance than i30, but the 3’s 5.7 l/100km consumption is well behind.

Now more than three years old, the 3’s design lacks the overall freshness of the i30.(see Mazda3 reviews)

Citroen C4 HDi Seduction ($26,990) - The HDi version of the C4 comes close to i30’s consumption figure with 4.6 l/100km, but while being the ‘next cheapest’ diesel small car, is more than $3400 up the price scale.

Also lacks the all-round polish of i30. (see C4 reviews)

Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion ($28.990) - Volkswagen’s eco-focused Golf is the only small diesel to better the i30 on consumption with a 3.8 l/100km figure.

The Golf’s 77kW engine lags behind i30 in performance though and carries a $5600 price premium. (see Golf reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



At just $23,590, the Hyundai i30 Active diesel manual delivers up-to-the minute design, generous equipment levels, excellent fuel economy and an enjoyable drive experience.

The i30 Active diesel’s asking price is only half the story though, it is a genuinely good all-round car in terms of interior and exterior design, and of quality feel.

The turbodiesel option commands a $2600 premium over the 1.8 litre petrol version. We think this can be justified by the 2.0 l/100km economy advantage, and, perhaps more significantly, the added flexibility of the diesel’s torque curve.

You’re spoiled for choice in this segment; the i30 Active diesel is another good one - and with a hefty price advantage to boot.




  • 2012 i30 Active - 1.8 petrol manual - $20,990
  • 2012 i30 Active - 1.8 petrol automatic - $22,990
  • 2012 i30 Elite - 1.8 petrol manual - $24,590
  • 2012 i30 Elite - 1.8 petrol automatic - $26,590
  • 2012 i30 Premium - 1.8 petrol automatic - $29,990


  • 2012 i30 Active - 1.6 diesel manual - $23,590
  • 2012 i30 Active - 1.6 diesel automatic - $25,590
  • 2012 i30 Elite - 1.6 diesel manual - $27,190
  • 2012 i30 Elite - 1.6 diesel automatic - $29,190
  • 2012 i30 Premium 1.6 diesel automatic - $32,590

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

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