Brand snobs wake up. Not only is Hyundai producing cars on par with far more expensive and fancied rivals, it’s also lighting up the sales charts – In March they outsold Holden in Australia for the first time ever. We’ve driven the top of the line Santa Fe already so this time we’re having a look at the smaller and very popular i30.
The 10 minute test drive
EFTM was recently let loose in the entry-level i30 Active Petrol and the showy i30 Premium Diesel.
It’s common fare these days for manufactures to devise creative catch phrases that inspire their individual design philosophies. Hyundai’s is ‘fluidic sculpture’ and the i30’s form is an extension of this – ‘aero active’
In the i30’s case the ‘fluidic sculpture’ design form has been applied exceedingly well. The German influence has erased memories of its dull conservative predecessor.
In the glamour stakes the i30 is a bit of a player. Sweeping and then stretched back headlamps matched by a yawning hexagonal grill provide the eye candy from front on. Tasteful front flared wheel arches flow back into a high crease line which rises to meet the rear tail lights which wrap around the corners. The shapely nose is relatively short but met by a steeply raked and sleek windscreen.
Jump inside this ‘fluidic sculpture’ and it’s obvious how the Korean’s are quickly mounting a strong case against the aforementioned brand snobs.
Considering the price there’s very little to fault with cabin presentation and build quality. The upper dash is layered with appealing soft touch plastic, the piano black centre stack falls between an aluminium look border with instrumentation that offers convincing levels of quality.
There’s no shortage of steering wheel mounted switch gear, with up to 14 different functions on hand.
There’s numerous storage options up front with a deep storage bin, sizeable door pockets and a generous glove box.
I was most impressed with the comfort levels. The seats have been very well executed with just the right amount of side bolstering and overall cushiness. The rear pew is an acceptable place for large adults with better than you might think space levels.
In’s and out’s
The i30 is served up in 3 different trim levels. Active, Elite and Premium. We sampled the bottom and top-tier.
The Active was pulled along by a 1.8 litre, 110kW/170Nm 4 cylinder petrol six speed auto. It’s hardly mind-blowing, trust me. But it’s smooth and refined and is right at home shuffling one around town with minimal fuss.
Our i30 Premium experience allowed us the opportunity to sample the decidedly better 1.6 litre turbo diesel 4 cylinder with 94kW/260N also with the auto. On a drag strip there be little between the 2 engines, but the diesel is more efficient and seemingly a better match for the over all package. There’s some lag early, but I’ve experienced far worse. The auto is crisp and precise but perhaps a little hesitant to kick down at times. The power-plant is exceptionally quiet, even with the windows down. I consider it to be a leading example of how a modern day diesel should be.
Standard features across the range are class leading, there’s plenty of ticks in boxes here. Cruise control, rear parking sensors, fog lights, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, USB input and touchscreen display are a start.
Seven airbags and the typical array of safely systems earn the must have 5 star ANCAP rating.
For those who like seconds and even thirds the mothership Premium variant will satisfy any appetite. Highlights include a panoramic glass sunroof which at the touch of a button transfers the hatch into an observatory. Keyless entry and ignition, sat-nav, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, larger 17 inch wheels and quality leather seats with front heating and for added safety HID headlamps complete the package.
The i30 is a solid little handler. It’s composed most of the time and remains constantly flat when moderately pushed through corners. But unexpected pot holes can be quite jarring, it’s a firm ride but the chassis tune can almost be described as sporty.
The one feature which confounded me most across the range was the FlexSteer variable steering. On paper it’s an impressive feature that allows you cycle through Comfort, Normal and Sport steering settings. Practically it achieves very little, noticeable but minor changes in steering tune are evident. But cmon, we’re not talking about a hot hatch here, I don’t see the point.
The i30 is quite a lauded car and has been named Australia’s Best Small Car under $35,000.
Hyundai under its iCare program offer an exceptional unlimited 5 year warranty and 3 years of capped price servicing.
If none of the above is enough you could resort to “It’s totally fluidic man”
The lasting Impression
Future ownership of your new Hyundai i30 should be relatively painless. Anecdotally stories of durability and reliability are often told by loyal customers. On the styling front with all those sculpted, chiseled and flowing lines it hopefully wont date to rapidly either.
The Hip Pocket
Starting at $20,990 for the Active 1.8 manual prices escalate right through to the range topping Premium 1.6 diesel Automatic at $32,590.
At the pump we averaged 8.1 litres for the petrol and 6.8 litres for the diesel. (Extended bouts of enthusiastic driving should be taken into account!)
The EFTM Rubber Stamp
When shopping around for a small hatchback do yourself a favour and simply go and sit inside an i30. Aside from it’s showroom floor static appeal getting up close and personal with one will surprise many. It earns the EFTM credit rating.