2017 Hyundai i30 Review – Preview Drive
Paul Horrell’s preview drive 2017 Hyundai i30 Review with specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Hyundai’s core compact hatch has very few rough edges. It’s quite fun to drive, and refinement is OK, and comes backed by Hyundai’s usual confident warranty.
2017 Hyundai i30 (European spec)
PRICE $NA WARRANTY 5 years/unlimited km ENGINE 1.6L turbo diesel 4cyl POWER 81kW at 4000rpm TORQUE 280Nm at 1500-2500rpm TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual DRIVE front-wheel drive BODY 4340mm (L); 1795mm (W EXC MIRRORS); 1455mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE 10.6m TOWING 1500KG (braked) 650KG (unbraked) KERB WEIGHT 1293-1411kg SEATS 5 FUEL TANK 50 litres SPARE space-saver (in Europe) THIRST 3.8 L/100km combined cycle FUEL diesel
THIS IS AN important new car, because the i30 is a huge seller in Australia, and this version is pretty much all-new. Half the steel in the body shell is the higher-strength grade, which makes it safer in a crash, yet lighter than before. Some of the engines are new. The cabin has a new big-screen infotainment setup. The driver is assisted by a reasonable count of active-safety aids.
What’s the interior like?
You sit in a well-shaped seat with a good range of adjustment, not just for the seat but the steering wheel. In front of the gear lever is a tray with USB socket, 12V outlet and on top versions a wireless phone charging pad.
Top versions have an electric park brake, while the rest get a yank-on job. In either case a pair of cup holders lives alongside, down by your elbow. Those in the back get a class-average deal for space, plus a pair of directable vents.
The boot’s bigger than most in the class, and on Euro-spec versions with a temporary spare wheel, the floor can be dropped to increase the space further.
Forward vision is pretty good, though the thick rear pillars means it’s average over your shoulders. Top models get a reversing camera.
Ahead of the driver sits a binnacle holding a pair of big, clear of dials for speed and rpm, incorporating smaller fuel and temp dials. A comprehensive but no-nonsense secondary screen sits between them, carrying driver’s info including trip computer and nav instructions.
The climate controls are a combination of knobs and buttons. Above is the screen, with half-a-dozen shortcut keys around its perimeter.
The whole design of instruments and controls is utterly conventional. There’s a reason: this arrangement works well and it won’t confuse anyone coming from another car.
All versions get a colour infotainment system for radio, media and phone. The top-end kit is a bigger screen incorporating navigation and connected services such as traffic, weather reports and live fuel prices.
Those top-end jobs also have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. Which is a bit ridiculous. The main gain from those phone mirroring systems is that they have the potential to save you the need to shell out for built-in satnav.
The interior is a temple of monotonous black plastic. All rather cheerless, and little of it is the nice matt-finish soft stuff we get from the Germans. The door trim is especially bleak, with a hard and ungrained panel surrounding the release catch, just at the place your rings will scratch it.
What’s it like on the road?
The base engine in Oz will be a 2.0 non-turbo direct-injection petrol lifted from the current generation. Our home range will also feature the diesel engine driven in this overseas test.
It’s a 1.6, and as it has just 81kW to its name you really do have to flog it to get half-decent performance. Still, for a diesel it’s smooth-running and quiet, so treating it that way doesn’t feel too excruciating.
The six-speed manual’s gearlever has a reassuring clonk to its action, and the clutch travel is progressive and the engine well calibrated, so you’ll be able to shift smoothy in traffic.
We also tried a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, which is smooth and shifts gears as an when you’d expect, for instance dropping a ratio or two as you go downhill.
The steering is light and pretty direct, and the suspension resists body roll. So among straightforward family hatches this is towards the quick-steering and precise end of the posse. In a succession of bends it feels as if it’s pivoting nicely around you rather than dissolving into understeer. It’s a pretty engaging chassis when you press on.
Taut suspension brings a fairy busy ride, but the suspension manages to round off big sharp bumps. On undulating sections, the body movements are properly damped, so no one should feel sick.
The main issue is actually road noise, a constant low-pitched roar on many surfaces. It undermines the efforts of the stereo. Mind you, it’s not a brilliant music system anyway, emitting a slightly flabby and indistinct sound at the best of times.
It’s worth noting that we were driving the European version that has multi-link rear suspension instead of the torsion beam the local market i30s will get. Generally, multi-link enables a better combination of steering precision with reduced ride harshness. So, the local car might suffer to some degree on either front. Although, Hyundai Australia does conduct local suspension and steering tuning.
What about the safety features?
Hyundai is confident about the i30’s showing in crash tests. But we don’t have external data yet.
Airbag count runs to seven: two frontal, two front-side and two front-to-rear curtains, plus a driver’s kneebag. ISOFIX points are limited to two, one either side of the rear seat.
A roster of active features is built in as standard or available. Frontal automatic emergency braking is standard, and European cars also get lane keeping – the good sort that gently nudges you back into lane rather than just beeping at you when you drift across the line.
Upper versions also have radar cruise control. Blind-spot warning is on the list, and with that comes rear cross-traffic alert, which warns if you’re reversing out of a driveway and a vehicle is bearing down on you.
The electronics also monitor your steering inputs, driving time and other factors to assess if you’re becoming tired or erratic, then warn you to catch some zzzzzs.
Why would you buy one?
The Hyundai I30 in Australia has proved to be one of the most-loved and best-selling cars of recent memory. It has certainly given the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla some sleepless nights. This is a first drive of the European-spec i30 but it gives a nice tease as to what Australian buyers can expect, especially on the inside of the thing. If you’re looking for a practical, well-built hatch with a strong warranty then the i30 is hard to go past.