2021 Hyundai i30 Active and Elite sedan (car review)

AGGRESSIVE exterior styling paired with a dashing interior. The 2021 Hyundai i30 Active and Elite sedans are here to take over from the now discontinued Elantra name, and this new take on the best-seller does a bang-up job of it too.

We will dub the body of this car a panel beater’s worst nightmare though, because its sharp, modern look includes styling lines on the door panels. Your average smash repairer will take one look at it and just order new doors.

Not us though, we appreciate the uniqueness of it all. It adds character, and cars that are usually overlooked in the small car category need plenty of character.

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On the outside, there is no real difference between the Active, which is the entry level sedan, and the Elite, which is the higher spec of the two. We have to say, tthe 17-inch wheels don’t do either variant justice either.

A set of 18-inch alloys with a smaller profile tyre to fill out the guards a bit would’ve been the wiser choice. But inside, comfort and luxury await, and both the Active and Elite come in a plush leather trim.

Considering the first series of i30 hatches, way back when, came in a bland cloth trim with lacklustre body styling, it’s come a long way. The seats are comfortable and wide, but unfortunately adjustment is manual in both models.

Jump in the passenger seat and thanks to the handle on the centre console next to the shifter, you’ll almost feel like you’re in some kind of prison or cage, albeit a luxurious one without the prospect of punishment.

There’s also the question of the interior colouring in the Elite. You’ll find your usual black and grey trims in the Active, but the Elite’s entire driver’s side is cream, colour-matched to the seats.

This includes the driver’s door card and for some reason the right hand side rear door card. We can understand the driver’s door, but the rear passenger door being different to the other side was a little strange.

The Active has a traditional analogue instrument cluster with an 8.0-inch multimedia screen, while upgrading to the Elite gets you twin 10.25-inch screens, one for multimedia and one for the instrument cluster.

Wireless charging comes standard across the range and you also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The digital cluster in the Elite is absolutely fantastic to say the least.

We found ourselves sitting at traffic lights changing the drive mode back and forth between the three options just to watch the fancy animations. And if that isn’t enough, the instrument cluster and media unit are customisable.

The cabin is harmonious, especially with the ambient noises available on the multimedia system in the Elite. There are two cupholders up front, two in the rear, and bottle holders in the doors. Boot space is 474-litres with the seats up, and 1,350 with them down.

It’s also safe to say we’re huge fans of Hyundai’s styling.

Underneath the bonnet, both sedans are powered by the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated inline 4-cylinder petrol engine, which makes figures of 117kW and 191Nm.

It’s a little underwhelming, but Hyundai’s 4-banger gets the job done, although engine noise can be a bit overbearing. This is particularly so if the engine struggles to get up a steep hill and you need to drop a few gears.

Luckily, these engines are paired to your choice of either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic transmission in the Active, while the Elite gets only the automatic gearbox.

Our test vehicles both came in auto and we thought the gearboxes were great. Gear changes were smooth and responsive without the rev-hanging of a CVT, and without the clunkiness of lesser and more unrefined boxes.

Handling is mostly quite good although we found that the steering was quite heavy regardless of drive mode, especially at lower speeds. We punished our test cars with plenty of rough roads in the suburbs, but they were surprisingly un-phased by it.

We came close to Hyundai’s 7.5-litres/100km claimed consumption too, with an 8.2-litres/100km in the Active and a 7.7-litres/100km in the Elite. Both were used mainly for suburban driving with the occasional highway stint.

Suspension tuning for Aussie roads is one of Hyundai’s strengths too, and it shows in the i30 sedan, almost so that it comes close to rivalling other comfortable cruisers such as Toyota’s Camry and the Mazda6.

Hyundai haven’t gone the cheap on safety either, with lane-keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert just some of the key features included.

The lane-keep assist system does get a bit annoying as it defaults to an ‘on’ setting every time the car is started, but a quick press and hold of the appropriate button on the wheel will disable it, if that’s what you desire.

Prices start at $24,790 (plus on-roads) for the manual Active and $26,790 (plus on-roads) for the automatic variant, excluding on-road costs. The automatic only Elite starts from $30,790 (plus on-roads). Hyundai also offers a 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty.

The 2021 Hyundai i30 Active and Elite sedans are spectacular bits of automotive kit, providing a dependable cruiser with plenty of personality and soul, with a bit more room for sportiness and fun.

Our 2021 Hyundai i30 Active and Hyundai i30 Elite sedans were supplied by Hyundai Australia. To find out more, contact your local Hyundai dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design/Photography.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - aggressive and modern exterior styling; plenty of storage space; excellent technological features; value for money.
Cons - interior design in Elite is unusual; safety features a bit fidgety; underpowered; drive feels a bit numb.
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual is an avid enthusiast of all things JDM, from the legendary powerhouses to the old school kei cars. He has a passion for modification and making his cars look like they belong on the track. But they never actually make it there.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> aggressive and modern exterior styling; plenty of storage space; excellent technological features; value for money.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> interior design in Elite is unusual; safety features a bit fidgety; underpowered; drive feels a bit numb.2021 Hyundai i30 Active and Elite sedan (car review)