Car ReviewsFirst Drive

2014 Hyundai i30 Active review

Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Hyundai i30 Active review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

IN A NUTSHELL It’s easy to see why the i30 is Hyundai’s biggest seller and Australia’s fourth most popular car in 2014.

PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS The Hyundai i30 blends strong value with first-rate quality, style, comfort, loads of standard goodies and impressive road manners. Backing that up is an unlimited kilometre warranty, up to seven years roadside assist and lifetime capped price servicing.

THE i30 WAS PENNED at Hyundai’s Germany-based design centre and is the latest version of its ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design. Although it’s about to celebrate its third birthday, and will be refreshed in the next few months when the 2015 i30 arrives in Australia, the i30 still looks every bit ‘today’. It wears the signature Hyundai hexagonal grille in dark chrome, which fuses into the cats-eye style headlights. It has strong bodylines with over accentuated wheel arches, a narrowing window line, steeply raked front and rear glass under a sloping roofline and a rear spoiler.

It’s every bit up to date inside too, with gloss black inserts, low-sheen metallic panels and soft touch surfaces that create a modern and inviting interior. The cloth-trimmed seats are comfortable and supportive with sufficient adjustment in all directions. While the 2650mm wheelbase is carried over from the previous generation the body is now longer and wider providing 27mm more headroom, 11mm more legroom, and 14mm additional shoulder room in the front. Even with the sloping roofline, rear seat dwellers have sufficient leg, head and shoulder room and the boot can hold 378 litres.

2014 Hyundai i30 Active review

The four-spoke steering wheel with cruise and audio controls adjusts for reach and rake and like all the controls has a premium feel. The easy-to-read analogue instrument cluster lives in dual cylindrical barrels and nestling between the speedo and tacho is the digital trip computer and multifunction display.

A matte-silver bordered centre console, with slimline air vents, cupholders, storage bins and piano black inserts features a five-inch touch screen that delivers audio, phone and Bluetooth information. The powerful four speaker, two tweeter audio system with equaliser, delivers crisp clear sound and the all-important functions of phone pairing and music streaming were completed quickly and effortlessly. The touch button aircon system was a gem and kept the cabin both cool and toasty in a week of crazy Melbourne weather.

2014 Hyundai i30 Active review

Hyundai replaced the previous 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with a more powerful and efficient, all-new, all-aluminium, 1.8-litre unit that delivers 107kW at 6500rpm and 175Nm at 4700rpm. We averaged 8.5L/100km against the official figure of 7.1L/100km. Fitted in the i30 Active we tested was the cost optional six-speed auto with sequential shift or manual change mode.

The engine is a smooth and free revving unit that never felt stretched or overworked and it is also reasonably quiet, only making an aural appearance in the cabin as it approached the redline. Its strong mid-range power and torque gives it sufficient oomph for quick passing manoeuvres and to push it out of corners. The six-speed auto ‘box delivered smooth shifts and willingly kicked back a gear. Although manual changes were a bit of fun, leaving it in Drive worked equally as well.

In developing the i30 for Australia, Hyundai’s engineers focused on tuning the steering and suspension to our apparently “unique conditions” and you can feel the fruits of their toil. The i30 was equipped with ‘Flex-Steer’ that offers three steering modes to select from; normal, comfort and sport with each adding or reducing steering effort and feel. With a noticeable difference between each we defaulted to the Sport mode, and while it required a bit more muscle, it returned the most feedback at all speeds.

2014 Hyundai i30 Active review

The ride and handling of the MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear on the i30 is impressive. The dampers are supplied by the renowned motorsport brand Sachs, and their engineers optimised the settings while testing in Australia. The result is a comfortable ride with a hint of sportiness. Over all but the worst surfaces occupants enjoy a comfortable ride while the driver gets to enjoy the well-sorted chassis.

While the i30 Active is set up towards the comfort end of the scale, don’t think it doesn’t know a thing or two about cornering. We found loads of country back roads that brought the work of Hyundai’s suspension boffins to the fore. What they have done is create a neutral, capable handling car that’s fun and reassuring to drive that can also traverse our ‘unique’ roads easily and effectively. Sweeping bends don’t raise an eyebrow and as we discovered to our delight, after stumbling on a series of switchbacks, it’s also good at rapid direction changes.

2014 Hyundai i30 Active review

Equally, roundabouts and traffic islands were also a source of fun to fling the i30 through. At all times the i30 is surefooted and fuss free and the 205/55/16 Hankook tyres offered loads of grip.

One criticism of the Hyundai i20 we tested recently was the intrusive road and tyre noise into the cabin and I was pleased with the lack of it in the i30 Active. Additional sound deadening, double-layered door seals and the different brand of tyres have done the trick.

Hyundai has always played a strong hand in the value stakes and the i30 Active is no exception. Even as an entry model it is very well equipped with standard kit such as the five-inch touch screen infotainment system with music ripping and storage, Bluetooth hands-free phone and iPod connectivity, Heated external mirrors, air con, reversing/parking sensors, Cruise control with steering wheel mounted controls, Keyless entry with burglar alarm, central locking, speed sensing auto door locking, auto door unlock, One touch triple turn signal and three-mode ‘Flex Steer’.

The Hyundai i30 range was deigned to achieve a 5-star safety rating around the world, and here it carries a five-star ANCAP safety rating and includes seven airbags, traction control, stability control, ABS brakes with brake assist, brakeforce distribution and ISOFIX anchor points.

Low cost ownership is another Hyundai trait with the i30 getting a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, lifetime capped price servicing and up to 7-years complimentary roadside assist.

2014 Hyundai i30 Active

Price $23,240 (+ORC)

Warranty five years, unlimited kilometres

Safety five-star ANCAP

Engine 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol

Power/Torque 97kW/205Nm

Transmission six speed automatic (six-speed manual standard)

Body 4300mm (L); 1780mm (W); 1470mm (H)

Weight 1240kg

Thirst 7.1L/100km (combined)

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Mark Higgins

Mark Higgins