Car Reviews

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

Isaac Bober’s 2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The new i30 SR Premium is the brand’s most sporting small car yet. There’s room for a family, it’s loaded with kit and gets the brand’s ActiveSense safety suite.

Hyundai i30 SR Premium

Pricing From $33,950+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol Power 150kW at 6000rpm Torque 265Nm at 1500-4500rpm Transmission seven-speed DCT Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4340mm (L); 1795mm (W); 1455mm (H) 2650mm (WB) Boot Space 395L/1301L Spare Space Saver Fuel Tank 50L Thirst 7.5L/100km (combined)

AUSTRALIA IS the world’s best-selling market for the Hyundai i30. It’s an award-winning small car that owners love, and earlier this year the third-generation i30 launched. It looks more grown up and less swoopy than the old model and is crammed with more equipment than ever before. But in this instance, we’re not concerned about the entry-level i30, we’re focussed squarely on the performance-oriented and top of the tree, i30 SR Premium.

It just so happens that Practical Motoring is running an i30 SR Premium as a long-termer and so I’ve spent more time than we normally get during a week-long road test of a new car…

What is the Hyundai i30 SR Premium?

The i30 SR Premium sits at the top of the i30 line-up and is differentiated from the rest of the range chiefly because it gets a different rear suspension set-up; multi-link as opposed to torsion beam. It also only gets a space saver spare (owners will be able to buy a full-size spare from September, the cost will be approximately $550) as opposed to a full-size spare in other i30 variants (again, because of the different suspension and the room it takes up – Hyundai wanted to claim the same size boot for all variants).

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

More than its different rear suspension but also a reason for it having a more sophisticated and expensive rear end, the i30 SR is pitched as the most sporting i30 you can buy. At least it is until the i30 N arrives Down Under early next year.

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

Beyond its sporting pretensions, the i30 is intended to serve as a car aimed at singles or couples in the city, or at families that might use it as their second vehicle. It’s priced, in SR Premium trim, from $33,950+ORC but comes equipped with just about everything you could want, including things like heated and ventilated front seats, rear air vents, an active safety suite that’s the equal of anything else on the market and a roomy cabin that’ll easily accommodate a family of four or four adults.

Hyundai offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and, via its iCare plan offers complimentary roadside assistance for 12 months on new vehicles, as well as a capped price five-year service plan and a complimentary 1500km first service. And, if you service your vehicle with Hyundai then you’ll get a 10-year sat nav update plan and a roadside assistance support plan for up to 10 years and more.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

The i30 SR Premium (and SR) have a shorter service interval period than the other models, running every 10,000km instead of 15,000km. Pricing is: 10k = $269; 20k = $269; 30k = $269; 40k = $309; and 50k = $409.

What’s the interior of the i30 SR Premium like?

Well, if you’ve sat in any other new i30 then the interior will be utterly familiar to you. It’s a good-looking interior with nice, soft touch materials and good quality fit and finish. In the SR, you get contrasting red seatbelts and red anodized surrounds on the air vents and red stitching on the seats.

Hyundai i30 SR Premium long-term test

There are plenty of storage areas on the centre console, including a good size centre console storage box, two cupholders and a space to sit your phone beside it. There’s another bin at the base of the centre stack with USB and 12V outlets as well as wireless Qi-compatible phone charging. Of course, if you’ve got an iPhone this is useless.

What’s the infotainment system like?

The eight-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard but unlike in other cars where the screen sits proud of the dash, this one doesn’t look like its tacked on. It can be easily reached from the driver’s seat and with steering controls it’s easy to delve into the system without having to reach over to it.

Cleverly, the infotainment unit offers native sat nav and a decent amount of native functionality as well as both Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity. This means you can play music or a pod cast of your phone but be using the nav on the car rather than your phone.

2017 Hyundai i30 European Drive by Practical Motoring

 

The navigation quality is higher than you get if you use the native system on your iPhone, but it’s not as good as using Google Maps. Interestingly, about Google, the system won’t pick up that I have Google Maps on my phone or, rather it will but won’t let me access it, but it will display my Google Play app allowing me to play music from that or use my iPhone’s iTunes app.

There are hard, shortcut buttons on the side of the unit allowing you to jump quickly to whatever you need to get to, from the radio to navigation or even system settings. There’s also voice control which I found to be good at picking up natural speech 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, the system simply ignored my request and bounced out… but then I find Siri tends to do that too when running through Apple CarPlay.

What’s the passenger space of the i30 SR Premium like?

It’s good. The SR Premium comes with a panoramic glass roof that, when the cover is pulled back, literally floods the car with light. But the tinting is good enough that you won’t bake and nor will the car if you leave the cover open and the car is parked in the sun. That’s not the case with Toyota Corolla ZR; its glass roof makes the car unbearably hot when left in winter sun for only an hour or so. Even better than the car, the i30 SR’s cover is proper block-out.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

The leather front seats are well shaped and supportive enough to keep you in place even when pushing the car on a twisting road. The seats are heated and ventilated and there’s good electric adjustment both up and down and fore and aft, with good adjustment on the steering wheel too. Vision from the driver’s seat is good right around the vehicle; the only thing that could be a little better is the quality of the reversing camera… yes, it gets dynamic lines and offers a good field of vision, it struggles in low light and becomes very grainy at night.

Over in the back seat, there’s plenty of room for six-foot tall adults to travel two up; someone smaller could squeeze into the middle seat at the back, but the transmission tunnel robs foot room. Thankfully it’s only narrow and there’s plenty of room either side of it to share space if necessary.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

One reader commented on our long-term report of the i30 SR Premium that they couldn’t fit into the back seat because of the sunroof robbing them of headroom. Well, I can honestly say that unless you’re seven-feet tall you’ll have plenty of room in the back. The shape of the back seats, the two outboard ones, at least, mimic the front seats keeping you nice and snug. And the windows, which are one-touch up and down (rare in cars in this segment), are nice and big giving you a good view out.

There are net storage pockets on the hard-plastic backs of the front seats (being hard plastic means they’ll be more resistant to foot scuff, something anyone with children will be thankful of). There’s also a rear-mounted vent at the back of the centre console which, if my kids can be believed, does a great job of both heating and cooling the back seat.

In all, the passenger space is a good one, with plenty of storage in the front and the back, although a lack of rear-seat charging outlets might disappoint some.

What’s the boot space like?

Hyudnai wanted all its variants to have the same size boot (395 litres) and because the i30 SR gets a multi-link rear suspension set-up, which takes up more room than the torsion beam set-up on other variants, there’s only a space saver hiding beneath the boot floor (a full-size spare will be available from this month). Other variants get a full-size spare. Fold down the back seats and the space expands to 1301 litres and, unlike other variants the i30 SR Premium (and SR) get a dual-height floor, meaning you can raise the boot floor up and get a little bit of hidden storage space beneath it.

2018 Hyundai i30 Review

The other nice touch is the standard fit net that attaches to four sturdy corner tie-down points and is excellent for keeping your groceries in place. There’s a 12V outlet in the boot and two small bins. With keyless entry, you can simply release the boot by pressing the button on the door and then, when you close the boot the car will automatically lock itself again which is good.

What’s the i30 SR Premium like on the road?

The i30 SR Premium runs a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 150kW and 265Nm of torque. This is mated to a seven-speed DCT which is designed and built by Hyundai. In my review of the diesel-powered i30, I remarked there was some hesitation down low via the transmission which can be a trait of some dual-clutch transmissions (think about your own jerky starts driving a manual car and then cut the DSG some slack), but there’s none of that from the unit mated to the petrol motor.

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

The gearbox is quick to respond to the throttle and offers a decent creep ability when you come off the brake but haven’t nailed the throttle. And the steering mounted paddles work well, but in a car like this, I feel they’re a bit of cosmetic frippery.

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

Indeed, the engine and transmission are very well matched and the throttle response is excellent and with a nice progressive action, meaning you can feather in the power. And the same goes for the brakes, if you’ll forgive me for seeming to jump all over the place.

Now, if you’ve been following my long-term updates of life with our i30 SR Premium then you’ll know that earlier this week I took the thing out onto my test loop which is basically a 33-kilometre-long torture test for vehicles. Anything that’s pretending to be something it’s not will be found out within the first few kilometres on this loop. Beyond the ride and handling, this loop will also expose any flaws in the brakes, transmission and noise insulation and the grippiness of the seat, tyres and the tune of the traction and stability controls.

There is nowhere to hide on this loop and I’m here to say that the i30 SR Premium ate up everything the road could throw at it. Hyundai’s local engineering team spent a lot of time tuning the Elantra SR which runs the same rear end as this new i30 SR and so much of the hard work had already been done. But that didn’t stop them from testing and adjusting the suspension to suit the car and our roads; indeed, Hyundai has just started suspension testing its vehicles out of the Blue Mountains…

i30 SR Premium on Practical Motoring's test loop

But, back to the test drive. The engine offers plenty of grunt from down low and feels strong right through to the top end with a rapid gear shift that helps to keep the thing on the boil. The steering tune, which is about twice as fast as what it is on the i30 in other markets makes this thing quick and easy to tip into corners with good feedback. And the suspension tune is such that mid-corner bumps are dismissed with ease; sure, you’ll feel the suspension take the hit, but so fast is it to gather itself back up again that there’s no thump through into the cabin or through the steering wheel. This is a properly fun little car to drive.

i30 SR Premium on Practical Motoring's test loop

I won’t go so far as to suggest the i30 SR is a hot hatch and that’s because it’s too refined (meaning you don’t have to make any compromise) and lacking that raucousness you expect from a rip-and-tear hot hatch. The i30 N will fill that role nicely; but if you’re looking for something that’ll cover ground quickly with the sort of mid-corner adjustability and depth of character you want from a sporting hatch then the i30 SR Premium can’t be ignored.

And then we come to dirt… we’ve got plenty of dirt roads in Australia and so any car being sold here should be put through its paces on dirt. And, again, the i30 SR shines on dirt and that surprised me given it’s running a sporting suspension tune and riding on 18-inch alloys and thin rubber. The grip was excellent and the noise insulation was phenomenal. A simulated emergency stop from 80km/h revealed the ABS tune is good too, helping to pull up the car quickly and keeping it in a straight line.

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

On the road, this is a car that’s as comfortable zipping through traffic as it is on a twisting road; the thing that I really like about it is that it always gives the impression that it’s game for more. And that’s exactly what you want from a car that’s claiming to be sporty.

What safety features does the i30 SR Premium have?

It gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating, like the rest of the i30 range. And while there have been some fingers pointed at Hyundai for not yet offering is ActiveSense suite across the range; something that will happen by the end of this year; the SR Premium does get Active Sense. Active Sense includes autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, driver attention alert, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert and smart cruise control. Beyond this the i30 SR Premium gets traction and stability controls, reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, tyre-pressure monitoring and parking sensors front (SR Premium only) and rear parking sensors across the range. The range also offers airbags covering the front and rear, ISOFIX, seatbelt reminders, and more.

So, what do we think of the i30 SR Premium?

It’s great; it’s one of those rare cars that has depth to it making it more than just mere transport from A to B which is something, as excellent as they are, you could accuse its lesser siblings of being. The i30 SR Premium is a ripper of a car to drive. It doesn’t shout at you push it but when you do it’s reassuringly capable and surprisingly quick. If you’re not a fan of dual-clutch transmissions then you could go for the manual SR, but for me it’s not as good to drive as the auto. No doubt, there’ll be those who’ll blindly wander towards a Mazda3 but the i30 SR Premium will annihilate the Mazda3 in any comparison you care to make… and on a twisting road, it’s the i30 SR that’ll make you smile.

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium Review

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's the infotainment system like?
What's the passenger space like?
What about the boot space?
What's it like on the road?
What about the safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: This is a warm hatch that feels properly warm. It's more liable than and out-and-out hot hatch but is just about as quick and nimble. There's plenty of grunt and there's a depth to the chassis that you just don't expect for this sort of money... that it's loaded down with kit and an active safety suite that's got everything you could want is all icing on the cake. This is my favourite of the i30 range.


  • Brett

    I’ve had the Hyundai i30 SR Premium for a month now and I can honestly say it’s a fantastic car. I’d probably go so far as to say it’s the best car I’ve ever owned, and I’ve owned quite a few…..

    • Thanks Brett, the more time I spend in it the more it reveals itself to be an incredibly polished machine that punches well above its price tag. – Isaac

  • Neil Watson

    Why does a FWD still have a transmission tunnel affecting legroom in the rear?

    • Fair cop, Neil. Simply a lazy figure of speech to describe the tunnel running through the car. – isaac

  • Steven

    Great review. At last – someone who actually tells us what the car is like to drive – how it feels. How are the 3-year residuals on the SR?

  • Mike

    Thanks for the great in depth report. I am about to purchase
    one for myself, I’m thinking Phoenix Orange colour to match the interior. Any recommendation!
    Cheers
    Mike

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.