Hyundai i30 Tourer: One for the head, if not the heart
Words by Wayne Gorrett
The mid-sized Hyundai i30 Tourer (which is marketing speak for estate or station wagon) is a facsimile of the already very impressive and much-improved hatchback, but with a more intelligently designed and spacious load area, fit for carrying bigger stuff.
The i30 hatch is now in it’s third generation since its introduction in 2007 when it was available as just a hatchback. The estate version was introduced along with the second generation hatch in 2012. The current model hatch and estate has been on sale since July 2017.
This third generation i30 Tourer was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The car was designed by Peter Schreyer and introduced a new design language for the brand at its nose called the ‘Cascading Grille’.
Like its hatchback sibling, the new i30 Tourer is quite a handsome car and looks so much better than it’s blobby Mk2 predecessor. All models wear alloy wheels and have distinctive LED daytime running lights, but adding the optional Visibility Pack adds dual LED headlights and boosts the alloy size to 17-inches.
Inside the cabin
The Tourer’s dashboard and front area are identical to that of the i30 hatchback, which is a very good thing. Material quality is good, as is the fit and finish. Nothing squeaks or rattles and the buttons, switches and touchscreen system, standard from SE trim upwards, all work logically and precisely.
I concede it’s not exactly remarkable or outstanding in terms of design, but it offers fuss-free and no-nonsense practicality from the KISS school of design (Keep It Simple, Stupid), which I appreciate in these days of busy, excessively-designed interiors.
Rear head and legroom is more than sufficient for adults, plus there are wide opening doors so access for getting child seats in and out isn’t too difficult. Just one niggly is a lack of rear ventilation on anything except top Premium trim.
For family use, holidays, dog owners, gardeners and whoever else might need it, there’s lots of space. No, really…LOTS of space.
Outright volume isn’t always the answer if you can’t access it. Fortunately, there are no such problems with the i30 Tourer – its space is easily accessible and to use. The load deck is low, wide and flat, plus there's barely any load lip, so sliding bulky items out is easy without them snagging. Boot volume is an ample 602 litres – more than the Ford Focus estate and almost as much as a Skoda Octavia estate. Load space is expandable to a cavernous 1,650 litres too, should you have big objects like furniture, doors or flatpacks to move around. Previously, the i30 Tourer offered 528/1,642 litres.
There are two underfloor storage areas with several little compartments for keeping bits and bobs like tools or electronic gadgetry hidden safely out of sight, along with a 12V outlet for chargers or accessories like a cool box or tyre compressor. There’s also a through hatch for loading long items like skis or wooden planks without folding down the rear row of seats – though this isn’t standard on the most basic trim level.
There are five trim levels to choose from, starting with the range-entry S grade to Premium SE. S cars are well equipped for an entry level model with goodies such as 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic high beam and cruise control come with every car.
SE adds a few luxuries to the i30 Tourer like 16-inch alloys and a five-inch touchscreen. Rear visibility is good on the i30, but parking sensors and a reversing camera will help you squeeze into tight spaces with confidence.
SE Nav offers an eight-inch touchscreen featuring navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Personally, this is the trim that I would recommend for a balance of comfort, convenience and cost.
Premium grade adds 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and dual zone climate control, while Premium SE is fully loaded and gets leather furniture as well as a glass panoramic sunroof as standard.
Safety kit is generous as standard as even the base S model comes with hill start assist, lane keep assist, cruise control, a speed limiter, autonomous emergency braking and automatic headlights. Top Premium versions also gain blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert to help with reversing out of tricky spaces or driveways.
Engines and transmissions
You can get order your i30 Tourer with a choice of one diesel and two petrol engines and with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The three-pot 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine will be your best bet if you spend most time pootling around town. It’s very nearly as perky as the four-cylinder 1.4-litre petrol and will return around 40mpg in real-world conditions. It’s quieter than the diesel and feels slightly less rattly, too – especially at slow speeds. The 1.4-litre model is more powerful and more refined, but isn’t quite as efficient.
If your work-life balance sees you on the motorway more often than not, then opt for the 1.6-litre CDRi turbo diesel. It’s available in two states of tune (109hp manual and 134hp auto) but doesn’t feel quite as nippy as the petrol models. However, it’ll return around 65 true mpg.
The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth enough but a touch notchy. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic will make much lighter work of long journeys or heavy traffic. It was mostly smooth, quiet and refined but was a little hesitant at those low and tricky parking speeds.
Ride and handling
The new Hyundai i30 Tourer doesn’t offer the most engaging drive in its class, but it is very comfy and a great car for racking up motorway miles with a suspension setup that soaks up bumps easily. Opt for the dual clutch automatic and progress is smoother and more serene.
Elsewhere, like its hatchback stablemate, the i30 is certainly not unpleasant to drive, it’s just not as engaging as most of its rivals. The ride is not quite as well composed at medium speeds, when it can get a little bouncy on uneven surfaces. Around town you’ll find potholes and manhole covers can create intrusive thumps and bumps.
The steering isn’t particularly well set-up for British roads as feels too vague. What’s more, it seems a bit too sensitive to road surface changes, too, which sometimes requires corrections.
If you do most of your miles on the motorway, rest assured you’ll be pretty well satisfied. However, if you drive mostly on A or B roads with a few twisty bits, there are plenty of rival cars that will reward you with better overall dynamic performance.
Make no mistake, the new Hyundai i30 Tourer is not short of appeal. The size of the boot compares favourably with those of most medium sized family estates and it’s also more comfortable, spacious and well-equipped than its predecessor. Plus, there’s the reassurance of a five-year/unlimited mileage, no-quibble warranty.
If you’re a keen driver, there are better choices than the i30 Tourer. But, if you’re after a mid-sized family estate that is genuinely spacious, comfortable, well-equipped, reasonably good to drive, well-made and offers a good range of engines, then there’s very little to criticise.