Hyundai i30 First Drive
Sharp looks, keen pricing and a roomy interior see the Hyundai i30 go after traditional Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla buyers, says Isaac Bober.
Small Hyundais were always designed to be cheap and cheerful, to get the brand out there and challenge the established players. The Hyundai Excel was a perfect example of that; but the throwaway car of the early 1990s was a little more robust than we all thought with plenty still on the roads today.
Fast forward to now and Hyundai is rapidly climbing the ladder (and that’s both in terms of sales and quality of product). And this Hyundai i30 is one of the standouts in a very impressive line-up.
With prices ranging from $20,990 (+ORC) for the entry-level 1.8 Active Manual all the way up to $32,590 (+ORC) for the 1.6 CRDi Premium Auto there’s an i30 for just about every budget. Our test car was the i30 Elite Auto which lists for $26,790 (+ORC).
Sitting just about smack-bang in the middle of the range, the i30 Elite Auto comes standard with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity with audio streaming and steering-mounted controls, seven-inch touch screen with sat-nav and a three-year subscription to MapCare, keyless entry with burglar alarm, push button start with proximity key, one-touch up and down with anti-pinching on all windows. Shell out for the i30 Premium ($32,590+ORC) and you get leather seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, and heated front seats.
In terms of safety, the entire range gets ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, stability and traction control, and seven airbags. The i30 Elite Auto I’m testing here gets auto dusk-sensing headlights, reversing camera with four sensors, burglar alarm, engine immobiliser, impact-sensing door unlock, central locking, and a full-size spare alloy wheel.
The Elite Auto gets a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which makes 110kW at 6500rpm and 178Nm of torque (or pulling power) at 4700rpm. A six-speed manual-toting i30 Elite is priced from $24,590 (+ORC), but the test car ran a six-speed automatic (which costs almost $2k more). Fuel consumption for the i30 Elite Auto is a combined 6.9L/100km while CO2 emissions are 164g/km. The fuel tank holds 50 litres. In my week with the i30 Elite Auto (and I covered well over 500km of town, country and highway driving) I averaged around 7.1L/100km (it was loaded up with the family – there are four of us – for half of the distance covered).
Open the locked door without having to touch the key fob and plonk yourself down into the supportive seat, glance around, and the i30 Elite Auto instantly impresses with its quality and layout. Forget the dated Mazda3 or the recently-revamped Toyota Corolla, because the materials, layout and fit and finish of the i30 Elite are right up there with the Volkswagen Golf; the current style leader of in this class.
There’s good vision right around and the reversing camera combined with sensors make tight-spot parking a cinch (we’ve driven a few more expensive vehicles recently that have had cameras but not sensors which doesn’t make sense). It’s easy for taller drivers to get comfortable behind the wheel and there’s a decent amount of room in the back seat for kids or an adult or two.
Hyundai’s done some local tuning of the steering and suspension and it shows, with the i30 Elite able to insulate you from the worst of the road without going to pieces when you ask a little more from it in the corners. But, as good as the i30 Elite (petrol) is, if, like me, you live out in the country and have plenty of hills to negotiate then the 1.6-litre diesel i30 is the way to go; with more torque than the petrol model (260Nm vs 178Nm, respectively) it’s got plenty of grunt to flatten hills and make overtaking up a hill a breeze.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
The Hyundai i30 Elite Auto is a standout in the small car class. It offers good looks (inside and out), an impressive list of standard equipment for the money, good ride and handling with a level of refinement neither the Toyota Corolla or Mazda3 can match, and enough room for a family of four.