Our Cars

2015 Hyundai i30 Active Series II Diesel review long-term

The Hyundai i30 has become one of Australia’s top-selling vehicles. We’ll find the secrets of its success on our long-term test.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 350KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.3 L/100KM (commuting, longer freeway trips, fuel test)

Today we returned the i30, so it’s time to wrap up three months of living with it.
 
The i30 is a Good Car.  It does nothing badly, a lot of things quite well and frankly is a cut above the average Japanese equivalent in pretty much any dimension you care to name.  The interior is well designed and stylish, there’s no shortage of power, it’s a decent drive if not a sportscar, very fuel efficient (nearly beat a Prius) and has a long warranty.
 
The only thing I managed to fault the car on was the location of the child tethers, which is unusual for me, as normally I’ve got a long list of improvements.  And it’s not just me either.  Everyone who has come in contact with the i30 has liked it, or at least not disliked it, even European-car snobs.  And many people have thought it is a petrol, when it is actually a diesel.  
 
We usually say at the end of long-term tests we’ll miss the car, but I will.  I don’t mind driving it at all – there’s a total lack of torque steer even though it’s a front-driver, the handling is pretty nippy and that big wave of diesel torque never gets old.  It’s practical too, lob whatever you like in there and it just works.  It’s not the most exciting car in the world, but far from the most boring either.
 
The i30 is a Good Car, and the conclusion of this test is that you should definitely shortlist it if you’re in the market for a medium-sized hatch.

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OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 290KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.7 L/100KM (commuting, longer freeway trips)

Last Monday I used the i30 to travel to Shannons Auctions, to see our friend’s MR2 go under the hammer with all proceeds to charity.  While I didn’t buy anything, I’d say there are worse ways to spend an evening.  I met a few friends there and we spent a bit of time wandering around and wishing, then bidding began on the lots.  That is moderately interesting, but does get a bit boring so after the MR2 fetched $7000 – about $2000 more than we were hoping – all five of us hopped in the i30 in search of food.
 
As usual, this provided me with the opportunity t get lots of comments on the car.   Bear in mind that these people are car aficionados – they own typically two cars apiece, and let’s just say none are Camrys.  All of them are track day veterans too.  And here we were, five-up, in an i30.
 
Friend A was driving.  He commented that “the car had some pull”, which coming from a 911 owner is praise.  Friend S1 commented that it had “really good heating controls, a simple dial not the silly stuff”.  Have to agree there, dials are the way to go, not touchpads or other fripperies (Lexus, you listening?).  Friend S2 said the he was “impressed, it seems really tight and well built, unlike my cousin’s Excel from ’98. And way better than an i20 I drove”.   Another remark was that it “had a really good commuting engine” which seemed to be a comment on the power and driveability.   And one driver, who shall remain nameless, didn’t even realise it was a diesel.  Now I can accept this from my other mate J who doesn’t care about cars (see below), but from a car guy?  Nope.  He guessed it was a 5-speed petrol, when in fact it’s a 7-speed diesel with a DSG.  His final comment was that he considered the i30 be “competent transport” which sounds like damning with faint praise, but he is a total European car snob so that’s about as good a compliment as he can give any other car. 
 
So the summary is the i30 managed to impress, or at least not gather too much criticism on its brief drive to and from the Thai place we found for dinner.  It also drives pretty well with five adults aboard, as you’d expect from a torquey diesel with lots of gears.   Other small cars with petrol engines tend to run out of puff quickly as you load them up…not so the i30.
 
A small postscript.  We returned to Shannons where everyone had parked their car and watched the last few auctions.  One lot had an estimate of $100,000 plus and that was an unrestored 1927 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  This was a “barn find”, a term given to something you discover in a shed, barn or similar housing that’s been sitting there, unloved and untouched for a long time, usually decades.  The sum of $100k looked like a lot, so we watched the bidding start.  
 
Immediately, the $100k was given.  Then $120.  Then $140.  Bidding shot up, and the room was in awe.  As the bids passed $200k the screens had the attention of everyone in the room.  When it passed $300k there was a hush.   The auctineer tried one last time, about to bang the gavel…and then it was off.  Off again to $575,000…and then there was a bid of $600,000. It was sold.
 
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Auctions.  More exciting than you’d think.  Just like the i30.

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: ESS

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

Emergency Stop Signal.  When you hit the brakes hard the hazard lights come on, and the brake lights flash.

WHY YOU CARE

Alerts other road users you’ve made an emergency stop, and hopefully gives them a bit more time to react, including perhaps avoiding you!

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 290KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.7 L/100KM (commuting, longer freeway trips)

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This week we return to the i30’s handling, and I bring you (with permission) a verbatim chat between Mrs P and myself:

Mrs P

Me

Is i30 front wheel drive?

 

 

umm why do you ask?

Is it?

 

 

why? Have you been burning rubber again?

Do not you know it is rude to answer a question with a question. Is it front wheel drive?

 

 

oh come on settle down

it’s right hand drive

I can see that

Now you’re unfunny and unhelpful

 

 

Yes it’s front wheel drive.

Now why do you want to know?

Because it tried getting away from me.

 

 

????? It’s not a dog!!!

Not as bad as 86 though. I still think engine is too powerful for such small car.

 

 

Where did it try getting away to?

When you go around a turn and accelerate too quickly front does a squiggly.

 

 

well, don’t accelerate too quickly then. And what’s a squiggly?

I did not accelerate quickly

It’s an S type movement

 

 

Where did this squiggly happen?

Turning onto on a wet surface.

 

 

And what happened exactly?

Nothing important.

 

 

Wheelspin?

No

 

 

Front end went wide?

Just a little bit no big deal.

Came off accelerator as soon as I felt it go.

Like I said not as bad as 86.

 

 

hmmm

did the electronics kick in?

Did not notice anything

Was not going fast nor was the movement very big

 

 

ok.

Try accelerating smoothly, and only when unwinding the steering lock.

but good feedback thanks for letting me know.

Might not have unwound the steering completely before accelerating.

 

 

There’s the problem then

Be smooth and gentle. Cars like smooth and gentle…as do husbands 😉

And more comments:

“I have a problem with reversing camera. When sun is on the dash (which is more often than not) you cannot see the video display. This could be easily helped by fitting a small visor on top.”

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: HAC (Hill start assist control)

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

When on a hill the HAC system will hold the car on the brakes for about three seconds.  This is designed to allow you to move your right foot off the brake and onto the accelerator so you don’t need the parkbrake to perform a hill start.

WHY YOU CARE

Makes hill starts easier.  However, remember it only works for a brief moment, so don’t expect it to hold you forever.  An alternative technique that works in any automatic is hold the car on the brakes with your left foot, increase revs with your right until the car starts to move, and then smoothly reduce the brake pressure.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 250KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.0 L/100KM (commuting, around the ‘burbs)

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Where possible, Practical Motoring brings your the opinions of people other than the regular reviewers.   People such as my friend J.  His is an important opinion because he is one of the few people in my circle who doesn’t care about cars, a fact he proves every time we meet and not just because he drives a Kluger and a Getz.  I still recall on first sight of my Toyota 86 he described it as the “thingo that’s mean to be quite good, isn’t it the Nissan MX-9?  Oh wait no Mazda Supra ?”.  
 
Anyway.  There we were, walking (not my idea of course) along a riverbank and then we see two kids on a microbike zipping along.
 
My reaction was to give them a fond smile and a thumbs up as they passed us, nice and safely I might add.  J, on the other hand, condemned the exercise as pointless and opined that the kids shouldn’t be there.  In turn, I wondered aloud what he’d rather they be doing..buried in a PlayStation perhaps?  Sexting on Vine or whatever the messaging app of the moment is?  As to pointlessness, what about those kids wasting time flying kites?  This led to a robust exchange in which I might have said “bleeding nanny state”  or “do gooder killjoy” and he might have said “waste of resources” and “dangerous”,  but that discussion has nothing to do with the i30.  So having the set the scene let’s continue with the J’s review of the Hyundai.
 
To begin, J slipped behind the wheel and adjusted everything to suit, being the safe driver he is.  He then complained that the steering wheel couldn’t be adjusted higher (it is reach/tilt adjustable), so I told him to lower the seat. He did so then complained he couldn’t see the top of the dash.  At this point I gave up, and I think he did too because we moved off.  For the record, the i30 seats aren’t fantastic, but they’re nothing to complain about and normal people have no problems.  J is average sized, at least in the dimensions I can see.
 
J then asked me whether it was a petrol or diesel, demonstrating he takes no notice of what I write here.  I said he had to guess. He said it accelerates very quickly and doesn’t feel like a diesel, therefore it is a petrol.  Yet our i30 is of course a diesel, but a modern one so it is quick (refer Mrs P’s previous notes) and fairly quiet.  For those used to Klugers the i30 may well seem like a sprightly petrol, but it is not.  Tip for readers -if you can’t tell petrol from diesel by the engine noise one easy way to note the difference is the revcounter – diesels tend to max out at around 4500-5000rpm, petrols 6500-8000rpm.  That, and the CRDi badge on the back.  And what your friend writes on his website. 
 
Next we stopped at a traffic light, and J surveyed his surroundings.  “No thingy on the top console” he announced, with a hint of dismay.  That turned out to the centre console lid which is one-piece not two.  I agree, would prefer a two-piece lid.
 
“Good hidey hole for your phone” he observed.  Refer previous notes on that too.  I asked his view of the dash and interior design, and the response was faint praise of “I don’t mind it”.  
 
We then departed from his area of expertise as he asked me about engine capacity.  Mrs P always want to know this too.  It is a completely pointless question because you cannot tell anything useful about a modern engine or a car from its capacity.  Nevertheless, I said it was a 1.6.  This nugget elicited from J a knowing nod and silence for a moment while he digested the implications of this information.
 
On we travelled, and J delivered a final judgment on the seating – “the geometry doesn’t fit me”.  I think it was at this point he also decided the car was a diesel, having listened to the engine a little more. Then there was a remark on the handling – “not too bad zippy wise”.  Pointed if not eloquent.  Remember, this man owns a Kluger and a Getz both of which he bought by choice while sober.  
 
J was also surprised to find the car had seven gears, saying he expected 5.  I suspect this is because the last time he bought a car was around 2007, and that’s where his knowledge has remained, so the next car knowledge update for him will be around 2020.  He also liked the display that told him which gear it was in, and noted the car “keeps climbing into high gears”, for example 5th at 50km/h.  
 
There are a few reasons behind this use of surprisingly high gears.  One is because the i30 has a powerful diesel with low-down torque relative to his buzzbox high-revving Getz, and the Kluger also does its best work high in the rev range.  And also with seven speeds it’s a case of 5th in the i30 is about equivalent to 4th in a 5-speed car, or even 3rd.   The final reason is the clever DSG gearbox (see below) which makes intelligent use of the gears.  All this means you get pretty good fuel consumption.  J worried a little that the car would not be able to accelerate as it liked higher gears. Not the case, press right foot, go faster, and it changes down…I should let Mrs P drive him, he’d never worry about acceleration then.  Wouldn’t have the time.
 
Final comments?  “Better than I thought, as it is a low budget car”. 
 
Normal service resumed next week.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 180KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.2 L/100KM (commuting, around the ‘burbs)

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Going to be a picture-heavy update this week, because it’s about the i30’s interior.  Well, second row backwards anyway. Have a look at this:

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See the way the second row is a 40/60 and the seat base folds forwards?  Clever stuff.  Not all cars of this nature have a 40/60 split, and the fold-forwards option is great.  It means the second row seatback can fold quite flat, or you could put gear directly onto the base of the seat, which is flat and hard, an better place to locate your cargo.

Here’s what it looks like with both folded forwards.

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Then we fold a seatback forwards:

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And from the back, with a headrest pulled off for a bit more space:

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So then we loaded up the i30:

IMG_9784 IMG_9788 

And used it as a load-lugger!  OK, it’s not a SUV, but it’s not bad at all for a small hatch.  In fairness though, the Honda Jazz is also very good if you’re looking for roomy hatchbacks.    

Hyundai also make a cargo barrier for the i30:

i30-Accesories-GDi30_CargoBarrier-800x600

This will safely allow you to load the back right to the top, and it’s easily removeable too.  Around $920 fitted.

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: petrol vs diesel

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

Two engines, two different fuels.  Diesel,or petrol which to choose?  Well, here’s the price difference – $27,300 and $20,485.  Diesels are more complicated engines that are more costly to build – although I do think manufacturers tend to load an extra premium, because they can.  Anyway diesels are more fuel-efficient which means you can go further on a tank – the diesel manual i30 is good for 4.6L/100km, the petrol manual 7.0.  Servicing these days is about the same too, and neither can be described as slow or noisy.   

But the diesel is, in my view, simply not worth the money even though it’s a nice drive.  You’d need to drive for hundreds of thousands of kilometers to get back that $7000 difference, and remember diesel typically costs more than petrol.  It’d be a different case in a big, heavy 4WD where a 35% difference in fuel consumption translated into big savings.   

WHY YOU CARE

There are very few small cars that make economic sense to buy as diesels.  The extra purchase price takes far too long to recover through fuel savings, you don’t really need longer range and there’s in general just no point.  Carefully consider why you are looking at a diesel before you part with your money.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 130KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.0 L/100KM (commuting)

I have found something about the i30 I don’t like.  Taken a while, but here it is:

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See those three child restraints?  Wrong place, in the cargo base.  They should be halfway up the seat where they are easier to get to and won’t interfere with any load.  This is a very rare misstep by Hyundai, and it’s not even all that big.   The little compartment to the left is good, but there’s otherwise a lack of tie-down points. Still, this is the worst thing I’ve found on the i30.

While we’re in the back, there’s goodness:

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Yes, a 12v outlet.  Handy to have for charging things, and often not found in small cars.

Now back to the child seats.  The i30 Series II has ISOFIX restraints in the outer seats in the middle row.  That is good news and leads us into this:

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: ISOFIX

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

Small children need special seats for cars because the car’s normal seats are too large for them.  These child seats need to be restrained in the car.   The old way to do this was to use a top tether and to thread the seatbelt through the seat.  This was fiddly, often done incorrect and ineffective.  The new way is ISOFIX – International Standards Organisation, FIX.  That’s the standard’s name, and systems conforming to the standard are known as also LATCH, or UAS.  ISOFIX seats slots into specially designed hooks within the seat base.

WHY YOU CARE

The ISOFIX system is far superior to the old way because it is simpler, stronger and easier to use – so it’s safer.  We have more on ISOFIX on this installation page including photos.  Basically, from now on, only use ISOFIX seats.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 110KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.4 L/100KM (commuting)

When you stop the i30 and put it into reverse you hear a funny electrical sound. I wondered what this was until Kid 1 discovered the answer.

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It’s the reversing camera, which pops up from under the badge when needed.

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That is very cool, because it means the camera never needs cleaning. Not even 4WDs have such a clever feature. Good work, Hyundai! Now make the guidelines move on the in-car display and we’ll be all set….

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: HID XENON HEADLIGHTS

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

Super-bright, white headlights with bulbs that last a long time and use less power compared to the conventional halogen systems. HID is High Intensity Discharge, and refers to the way an electric arc is generated between electrodes within the lamp. Xenon refers to the type of gas in the headlight. Marketing people love this stuff because ‘xenon’ sounds really cool and it’s an actual word, not even one they had to make up.

HIDs can be a bit slow to power up, so manufacturers tend to get around this by having them on full beam all the time and using reflectors to convert to low beam.   HID lights are so bright that by law they must have a self-levelling and cleaning system.

WHY YOU CARE

All else being equal, the HIDs will be brighter, whiter, last longer and use less power. What’s not to like?  If you drive at rural roads on night it’s worth it, otherwise it’s a nice to have. 

Note: not all i30s have HID headlights, presently only the SR and SR Premium, but expect the feature to filter down through the ranger over time.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 180KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.2 L/100KM (commuting)

August 17, 2015

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We’ve just published an article on basic car maintenance, which is an amazing coincidence because last weekend I decided to see what the average car owner could do about keeping their i30 running.  The title image shows three things we’ll look at first.

On the left there is the windscreen washer fluid with the blue lid, and above that there’s the engine coolant.  On the right there’s the air filter.  As usual with modern cars, the bits the driver can fiddle with are marked with bright colours, and all is explained in the owner’s handbook.

Washer fluid

The windscreen sprayers draw fluid from this resevoir and spray it on the windscreen.  You can just add water to fill it up, or use special liquids that have some wonderful cleaning properties but they tend to be more hype than reality.  These days there’s often enough resevoir capacity to just let the mechanics do it when the car is serviced, but you may well wish to top it up yourself if you’ve used it a lot.  That’s simple, just open the lid and fill up.  In really cold conditions use a bit of anti-freeze (available at any high-street car shop) to stop the fluid freezing.  You can’t overfill, so top right up.

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Air filter

This is the air filter, easily accessed by undoing a couple of clips.  The white paper thing inside is the filter, which cleans the air going into the engine.  This is normally changed during certain services, but if you’re in dusty areas it is no bad idea to do it yourself – just lift out and replace with a new one available from any Hyundai dealer.  Or at least lift it out and bang it against a tyre to clean it best as you can.  Ours is super clean as we’ve not done much dusty work with our i30.

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Coolant

This where you can check the engine coolant and top it up.  The level should always be between L for Low and F for Full and in the picture it’s full – the car is parked on a slight incline so it looks overfull, so be wary of that trap – look at how the fluid level is angled a bit towards the back.  If the level drops, or is close to L then take the car to a dealer for a check.  Once the engine is off and has cooled down (wait 15 minutes) you can add more coolant – the owner’s manual explains what type to use, and in emergencies you can just use water, better that than nothing although the correct coolant is definitely what the engine needs.  Coolant is corrosive so be careful with it.

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I’ll return to this topic and go over fuses and changing of lights such as brakelights and indicators.  In the meantime:

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: Things you don’t need to know

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

Here are specifications I am not going to explain because they tell the average i30 buyer absolutely nothing useful and serve only for car nuts to have pub arguments over or car journalists to scatter into their reviews like carrots in vomit in an attempt to sound knowledgeable.  The (probably incomplete) list is:

Bore and stroke, compression ratio, descriptions of MacPherson struts, torsion beam axles, rack and pinion steering, gear ratios, valve system, air intakes, number of cylinders, engine capacity.

And I’d even go so far as to ignore the power and torque figures.  I’m covering all the things you do need to know in the other Explainers.

WHY YOU CARE

You don’t.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 240KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.0 L/100KM (commuting)

August 10, 2015

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Some unrelated updates this week.

The paint
The i30 has been with us over a month and so far we’ve not washed it. Has to be said I am not renowned amongst my car-loving friends for spending time on polishing vehicles so the i30 is being treated like the cars we own. It is actually quite dirty, but the grey doesn’t really show the dirt. Have a look at this:

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I’ve cleaned and polished a strip of bodywork and you can’t really tell that much of a difference towards the top. I think this shade of darkish grey is pretty good for the lazy carwashers amongst us. I will do the rest of the car of course, but you don’t want to rush into these things.

Oh and while I’ve called the car dark grey, that’s because I’m a journalist without imagination and flair. The correct term is “Sparkling Metal”.

Safety
You can start the i30 without needing to put your foot on the brake pedal. This is a bit unusual for a modern car. I don’t mind the brake pedal lock, and for a family car it’s a good idea as it makes the car harder to start by accident. However, Hyundais (and the i30) have an unusual feature.

IMG_9881
First time I saw that it was on the Santa Fe and I thought I’d damaged the alignment when driving offroad. But no. It just means you’re starting the car and the wheels aren’t straight. That is a good idea, doesn’t irritate and might save someone, someday.

A forum
Did you know there’s a bunch of i30 enthusiasts on the web? There is, and here they are -> www.i30ownersclub.com

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: EPAS, Flex Steer and MPDS

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

Steering is hard work, so the car helps you turn the wheel. This used to by via hydraulic mechanisms, but now it’s electric motors and this is known as EPAS, or Electronically Assisted Power Steering. Hyundai use EPAS in what they called MDPS, or Motor Driven Power Steering. The MPDS system changes the feel of the steering according to speed, so it’s firmer at higher speed and lighter at low speeds.

Flex Steer allows you select one of three modes; Comfort, Normal, or Sport. The only difference is the heaviness of the steering wheel, with Sport being the heaviest.

steering-modes

IMG_9888

WHY YOU CARE

EPAS systems are fuel-efficient, so all else being equal an EPAS equipped car will use less fuel – maybe 1L/100km less, depending on use. It’d be more around town with lots of steering input, less on the freeway.

EPAS systems are also easy for computers to “help” with, for example bringing the car back onto line if it strays over the white lines, or self-parking.

In our test i30 the three modes are really misnamed. Should be Light, Right and Might. There’s nothing sporty about heavy steering, you don’t go any faster, have any more fun, and the steering is not better, it’s just heavier. So pick whichever one feels best, and for us that’s Right (sorry, Normal).

There’s no real downside to EPAS any more. Used to be, when the early versions had terrible, artificial and disconnected steering feel. But the i30’s steering is just fine, as it is in my Toyota 86 and other sportscars which also use EPAS.

Hydraulic power steering is now just another relic of a bygone age.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 320KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.8 L/100KM (commuting)

August 04, 2015

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This week a bit more on the i30’s commuting and round-town ability. I’m somewhere between “don’t mind it at all” and “pretty good” as an assessment of driveability. The i30 has nice, dieselly power and by that I mean the transmission and engine is happy to lope along almost at idle sipping fuel, holding 70km/h in seventh gear, 6th gear at 60, 50th at 50. It’ll also smoothly and purposefully gather speed in high gears from low speeds, a very diesel trait and one that contributes to the driver’s enjoyment.

If you like your cars frantic and dramatically high-revving look elsewhere, if you like deceptively quick and smooth progress then you’ll like the i30. The car also delivers power to the road well even in the wet, and it’s a safe handler. Not boring with it though.

Downsides – the A-pillar is a bit too large, often the way on modern vehicles due to crash safety engineering, but I do feel Hyundai could have made it a bit smaller. There is a manual mode on the gearbox but it’s the old-school move forwards to change up and backwards to change down. It works well enough and is handy on the likes of steep hills, but mostly you’d never need to bother with it. And there’s no voice recognition on the car, just the mode can uses the phone’s own system. Given how I treat cars as a mobile offices being able to yell names of people to call is a bonus.

Fuel consumption – on a commute I didn’t try hard and returned 5.6L/100km. Next day I tried a bit harder, but not as far as I could take economy driving techniques and returned 4.8L/100km which is pretty close the official figure of 4.6. There’s no idle stop/start on this car which is fine, you save so little fuel it’s hardly worth it and, anyway, one economy driving technique is not to ever let the car come to a halt.

That’s the end of month 1. Another two to go. When the i30 goes I think I’ll kind of miss it, it’s not an exciting car but I think it would deliver a bit more joy of ownership than some others.

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: 16 and 17″ wheels

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

The i30 comes with the following wheel choices:

  • 16 x 6.5J steel wheels with 205/55R16 tyres
  • 16 x 6.5J alloy wheels with 205/55R16 tyres
  • 17 x 7.0J alloy wheels with 225/45R17 tyres

Let’s decode that. The overall diameter (height) of the tyre is the same in all cases. The 16 and 17 bit is the diameter in inches of the wheel, the metal bit that the tyre is fitted to. As the diameter of the tyre is always the same, fitting a bigger wheel means that the tyre is thinner, which most people think that looks cool.

The 6.5 and 7.0J is the width of the rim. It’s not a spec you need worry about, but simply the wider the tyre, the wider the rim. The other spec, eg 205/55/R16 is the width (in mm), aspect ratio (% of the width) and required rim diameter (in inches) of the tyre. More on that in our tyre guide here if you’re interested, but you don’t really need to understand it to make a decision.

The steel wheels come with a cover to hide their ugliness. The alloys are beautiful enough so need no cover. Alloys are lighter than steel, and lightness is good for handling and fuel economy. However, the bigger the rim, the heavier the wheel/tyre combination so a the 16×6.5 alloy above is lighter than the 17×7.0 alloy.

WHY YOU CARE

Summary of the pros and cons of wheel choices:

  • Best looks – 17 x 7.0J alloy wheels with 225/45R17 tyres. Big rims look good, as do alloys.
  • Cheapest – 16 x 6.5J steel wheels with 205/55R16 tyres. Steel is cheap. 
  • Best fuel economy – 16 x 6.5J alloy wheels with 205/55R16 tyres. Alloy is lighter than steel, and a 16″ rim is lighter than a 17″ rim.
  • Most comfortable ride – the 16″ rims.  As a general rule the smaller the rim the more comfortable ride, but that can be changed by the type of tyre fitted.
  • Best handling – 17 x 7.0J alloy wheels with 225/45R17 tyres. As a general rule, wider tyres give you better corner grip, but wide tyres on big rims are heavier than narrows on smaller rims so you lose on the straights.
  • Most robust – 16 x 6.5J steel wheels with 205/55R16 tyres. You bust a hubcap, get another. Easier than paying to get your alloy rims fixed after a kerb scrape which by the way can be done quite easily, or you could just get them painted another colour instead of silver.

Difference between all of the options above in the real world? Microscopic, and don’t let anyone tell you different. You absolutely wouldn’t pick it on a back-to-back drive. The official fuel consumption figures are the same for all trim levels, and the biggest difference by far is looks.   Another small factor is that the tyres for 16″ rims are also likely to be the cheapest to replace.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 320KM
PRICE : $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 5.6 L/100KM (commuting)

JULY 27, 2015

IMG_8984

Welcome to the first of an infrequent series called “Things That Fit in an i30”. In the picture you see four wheels for my Toyota 86 on their way to Road Track Rally to be replaced with Toyo R1R tyres, and you can read more about how to select a tyre here.

But back to the i30. As usual with a hatch there’s a cargo bay and a second row of seats, but what’s good is that the second row has a 40/60 split, and both fold down nice and flat (more on that later). So in anticipation I put the 40% seatback down ready to load the tyres in, after first laying a tarp in the cargo area to protect the carpet. Tarps are good. Always have tarps in your garage.

As you can see, I didn’t need to bother lay the second row flat at all, as all four wheels fitted in the back nicely enough. I just needed to remove the rear parcel shelf which I left in my garage, and there we go, an instant tyre-mover.  Here’s the new tyres in the back:

IMG_9002

I’ve also been using the i30 as a commuter this week and finally, I’ve found something I don’t like, or rather not found it.  The clock. The only place the i30 has a clock is on the main touchscreen. It’s displayed on most screens but not all, and in particular the phone screen. As I’m permanently running either late or nearly late for everything in my life having a clock always to hand is essential, and the i30 fails a bit on that front. Yet it will always display the external temperature which is nice but not essential.  The temperature never has any effect on what I’m doing, time does.

The other thing I thought I’d like to change was the phone dial/hangup buttons which are not on the steering wheel but on the dash. Then I realised the buttons are accessible by a passenger, so I withdraw my objection. They’re fine where they are, and it’s not that much effort to reach.

Otherwise the i30 has been a good commuter. It’s got plenty of power, quickly responds, and while not a sportscar is sharp enough for me to enjoy the drive more than some more porridge-like cars. Economical too, returning 5.6L/100km in a mixed freeway/suburbs commute. I will at some point check whether the trip computer is true or lying, as most of them are a bit out.

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: ABS, EBA and BAS

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.

WHAT IT IS

ABS is anti-lock braking. EBD is Electronic Brake Distribution. BAS is Brake Assist System.

ABS prevents a wheel locking, so you can stop quicker in wet conditions even if it makes little difference in the dry. The real value of ABS is that you retain control of the steering in any conditions, whereas without once the brakes are locked you have no steering.

EBD distributes braking force across all four wheels in proportion to the available traction – whereas ABS just stops them locking, doesn’t try and use whatever traction is left.

BAS helps you stop in an emergency. Most drivers never practice emergency stops so do not press the brake pedal hard enough in the event of impending doom. BAS helps apply that last little bit of brake pressure. Computers figure out how panicked you are by detecting if your retinas suddenly open and how hard you clench the steering wheel – only kidding, it’s done by detecting how quickly you lift off the accelerator and hit the brake pedal. Then the BAS kicks in to help you brake the car.  Oh and in the future that joke bit won’t be a joke, the tech is on the way.

WHY YOU CARE

All three technologies help the car stop quicker and under more control. However, while just about every modern vehicle has such aids they are of no use if the driver has been inattentive and left braking too late, so as ever, don’t outsource driving to the computers just yet. Also, while the base technology is the same across all vehicles, the effort that goes into calibration and design most certainly is not. Hyundai typically do a pretty good job of this, and we’ll find out how good later on in this test.

By the way, the technique for panic stopping is what’s known as The Cockroach. You stamp the brake pedal like it was a cockroach. All this about cadence braking, smoothly on and off…that was yesterday. Nowadays, just slam that pedal to the floor, look where you want to go and steer where you want to go, and after ABS, EBD and BAS have saved your life stop, reconsider and think about how you could have avoided the problem in the first place.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 500KM
PRICE :  $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.9 L/100KM (OFFICIAL ADR81/02 combined cycle)

JULY 20, 2015

IMG_8041

Time for some initial impressions from the family:
 
Mrs P – “Spacious, and very powerful.  Easy to drive but boring”.   Now listen Australia, if Mrs P says it’s powerful, it’s powerful.  She also said it was overpowered in reference to the off-idle torque – the way the car moves off as soon as your foot comes off the brake pedal. I hadn’t really noticed, but now she’s mentioned it, I agree.  Except I reckon it’s a great feature as you can control the speed of the car through the brake pedal and rarely have to dance your foot from accelerator to brake when manouvering at low speeds, for example when parking.
 
The 13 year old view – “Small, comfortable, modern”.   That’s three words more than she usually uses, so I guess we’ll need to leave it there.
 
The 10 year old view –  “Don’t like it.  It’s not blue.  It’s not a convertible.  It doesn’t even have a sunroof and it has no heated rear seats”.  
 
Well, I did ask.  That latter comment comes from our week with the Santa Fe Highlander which had heated and cooled seats, so now both children are spoiled and every car is measured against the Santy.  I really wish I’d pulled the fuse on the seats that week and taped up the controls.  As for the convertible comment, she loves topless cars and if permitted would spend hours sitting in them doing nothing but opening and closing roofs.  Couldn’t get her out of the blue BMW convertible we had on test recently, I thought heaven for young girls may was a Barbie doll, but no, it’s a Bimmer drop-top.  Yes, I’m parent of the year, I know.

 

Is the i30 boring?  Hyundai might think it needs a bit of help in the personality department so because they have the car do this as you turn it on and off:
 
IMG_8062 IMG_8061
I can’t decide if that’s cute or naff.  Either way it doesn’t bother me, and I think there’s more important things to worry about.  But not so far with the i30.  We’re yet to find anything we don’t much like about it.  But next week it goes on a longer drive…

THIS WEEK’S I30 TECH EXPLAINER: SRS AIRBAG

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30. 

WHAT IT IS

I love the way airbags are invariably described a “SRS” as if that’s some sort of extra special airbag.  It’s not.  SRS means Supplementary Restraint System, and all airbags are SRS – the primary restraint is the seatbelt, and if that’s not on and worn properly the rest of the safety gear won’t work.
 
The i30 has lots of airbags – one each for the driver and passenger, another for your knees, and more for the sides.  Here’s a couple of diagrams to show where they are:
1224826_elantra_airbag_aus
That’s front, side, seat (thorax) airbags and below we’ve got a photo of knee airbags.
I30_PERFORMANCE_KNEE_AIRBAG_2014_1ST_GEN_RHD r
Knee airbag.

WHY YOU CARE

In the event of a crash airbags could save your life or at least prevent you from further injury.   Many injuries in cars are due to the occupants being thrown around inside the vehicle, which is why seatbelts were invented.  However, seatbelts don’t do a great job of restraining people which is why race drivers and pilots use five-point harnesses.   Airbags are there so your head comes into contact with a nice, soft pillow as opposed to hard and unyielding plastic.
 
Some airbag trivia for your next dinner party:
  • airbags don’t inflate, they explode open
  • they only go off when they need to, so in many accidents they aren’t activated, and only some may activate for example a head-on collision may not activate the side airbags
  • don’t even put things in the way of airbags because if the airbag goes off it’ll really, really hurt and could slow the airbag down
  • airbags are activated by sensors in the car which detect how quickly it is stopping (don’t worry, you can’t actiave them by braking hard)
  • most seats have airbags in them so be careful to choose airbag-compatible seat covers
  • the driver’s side airbag is around 45-60L, and the passenger 80-130L depending on the size of the car
  • some airbags are multi-stage with differing opening rates
  • Americans do not like seatbelts so their airbags are, to some extent, designed to work without the seatbelt.  It’s really very stupid to drive without a seatbelt though as even at 5km/h you can have a nastry crash.
  • keep at least 30cm between yourself and the airbag at all times.  No feet on the dash!

Reader question of the week:

“Whats the drivers leg-room like ? Does it have a reach adjustable steering wheel ?”
 
The steering wheel is both reach (in-out) and tilt (up-down) adjustable.  There is plenty of legroom for the driver.  I shall take the car to gangly friend L who will test it properly.

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 200KM
PRICE :  $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.9 L/100KM (OFFICIAL ADR81/02 combined cycle)

JULY 13, 2015

IMG_8031

At some point during this test I had intended to comment on the i30’s handling.  But I’m going to make a start on that now, well at least from the perspective of a passenger.  
 
You might think that the best test of a car’s maneuverability is a timed motorkhana nipping around cones.  I’m here to tell you that’s not the case, and a better test is to give the car to Mrs P when she’s looking for a parking spot in a hurry.  I just shut my eyes and hung on for the ride.  
 
I had been wondering whether or not the diesel engine was sufficiently responsive to get the car off the mark – it is. Also now know the turning circle is tighter than I expected.  Quite happy to say the brakes work, as various other drivers in our locality will readily agree.  Tyres hang on well, seats are supportive.  And all this from the left-hand seat.
 
While being thrown around the carpark at least my phone was safe.  Check out these two little compartments for bits and bobs, very practical.  Even better – there are two 12v sockets, and these have robust flip-down covers, not pull-out-and-lose inserts.  Covers are important for 12v sockets to avoid accidentally inserting something metal and shorting the electrics or blowing a fuse.
 
This sort of thing is a tiny but small touch which I find typical of modern Hyundai cars, and it is what starts to mark out the good cars from the merely adequate.  Also note the USB and iPod inputs, all welcome but surprisingly not present on some current-model cars.  Just a shame there’s no further input in the second row, much to the eye-rolling, sighing disgust of Elder Daughter.  Adding a 12v socket to the back is an easy job for an auto sparky or the DIY mechanic, but even on this base model in 2015 it should be there already as I think all 13 year olds would, like, Instagram their agreement.
 
IMG_8046
 
What’s missing?  A CD player.  I don’t think one is necessary in 2015, the age of music streaming over the Internet.  Both cars I own have CD players, and neither has seen a disc.  If you really wanted one you could always get a portable unit and stream via Bluetooth, or put the music onto a USB key.  It’s all digital anyway so no loss of fidelity.
 
There’s no fuel consumption report yet because we haven’t managed to get through a tank of fuel so far.  Despite best efforts.
 
Also this week a car-loving friend drove it.  She says: “Transported a number of people in comfort, wasn’t lacking power, rode the road well. I’d drive it again.  I can understand why it’s a popular seller. I wouldn’t sneeze at an i30 if I was choosing a rental car in future.  And that diesel engine is wonderful!”.   High praise from a discerning connoisseur of cars.
 

This week’s i30 tech explainer: 7 Speed Dual Clutch (dry clutch) DCT

Every week I’m going to pick something from the i30 spec sheet and explain it (and before any car nuts write in, these explanations are not for you), although mostly the explanation will not be specific to the i30.  This week:

What it is

Seven speeds is easy, that’s seven gear ratios.  
 
A DCT is a Dual Clutch Transmission.  I know that sounds like a marketing phrase but it’s not, it’s real.  A “normal” automatic gearbox basically has the engine spinning a fan in a box of fluid.  Also in that box of fluid is another fan on the end of a shaft which is ultimately connected to the wheels. As the first fan spins the fluid spins too, and that turns the other fan and you move forwards.  This is why such automatics are known as “slushboxes”, although the correct and less memorable term is torque convertor.
 
Unfortunately, such slushboxes are inefficient, wasting a lot of energy with this fluid turning although they’re ok when up to speed.  They also take a long time – well, fractions of a second – to change gear.
 
Enter the DCT.  Here the engine and wheels are connected by a clutch.  A clutch is a simple device – the engine spins a metal disc kind of covered in sandpaper.  Next to that is another disc also covered in sort-of sandpaper, and that’s on a shaft that is ultimately connected to the driving wheels.  The two discs get pressed together, and of course the one that is spinning starts to spin the one that is not spinning, the wheels turn and off you go.  This is a very efficient way to transmit power from engine to wheels.  If you have the two discs pressing together quite hard but not rotating at the same speed then you are slipping the clutch – you can smell when this happens, and if it’s really done badly, also taste it.  Then you have to buy a new clutch.
 
So a DCT has a clutch instead of a slushbox, but it’s so clever it has TWO clutches.  One clutch engages the gear you’re in now, and the other one engages the next gear up, for example you’re in third, and the other has fourth ready to roll for you. The split is odd/even, so the first clutch does odd numbered gears and the other the evens.
 
The dry clutch bit means the clutches don’t spin around in fluid.  Only works for relatively low-powered vehicles.

Why you care

Compared to a normal slushbox automatic the DCT is more efficient, so you use less fuel. It is faster and smoother to shift too.  The dry clutches are more efficient as they don’t waste energy rotating in fluid.  There is no appreciable difference in cost, weight or servicing.
 
All this is a case of “all else being equal” because a poorly designed DCT can be worse on all counts than a normal slushbox.  If fuel efficiency is the goal then as with any car feature you need to look past the specs and at the end performance figure, in this case the fuel consumption figures.
 
In general, the more gear ratios a gearbox has the better. This is because the engine is better able to be kept in exactly the right gear for any given situation.  There is a bit of a law of dimishing returns – the difference between a 5 and 6 speed gearbox is not as great as between 7 and 8, and a lot depends on how well the engine works in harmony with the gearbox, as well as how well the gearbox’s gearshift logic is designed.
 
There are also CVT transmissions and these are explained here.
 

Reader question of the week:

Nobody’s sent any yet, so nothing.  Comment below if you have one.

 

OUR CAR : 2015 Hyundai i30 Active Diesel automatic
DISTANCE TRAVELLED : 50KM (delivery km 2950)
PRICE :  $25,840 (+On road costs)
THIRST : 4.9 L/100KM (OFFICIAL ADR81/02 combined cycle)

JULY 6, 2015

ON THE SECOND OR third working day of every month, regular as clockwork, the emails start arriving.  Every manufacturer seems to find something to crow about in every month’s sales figures, but this time one stat made interesting reading.

This car (below):

IMG_7918

is the Hyundai i30 Series II and it is the top seller in Australia for June 2015. Back in the day Falcon and Commodore were unbeatable, then Mazda3 took centre stage and now, here is Hyundai.  Over 5500 of you bought i30s in June, topping the charts and beating out the Toyota HiLux.  However, the i30 is still third year-to-date behind Mazda 3 and Corolla.  This is the first time Hyundai have had a monthly best-seller since 1998, and last month was their best-ever for sales.  In ’98 Hyundai didn’t have the breadth and depth of product they do now, and we suspect it was the Excel that drove the figures.  Now there’s i30, Santa Fe, Veloster and several other strong sellers in their lineup.

This particular i30 is our long-termer and will be on test for three months.  It is the base model diesel, named the ‘Active’, and it has an automatic transmission.  As this is a long-term test there’s no need to rush into opinions, and we will fully explore the vehicle in detail – if you have a specific question feel free to comment below and we’ll do our best to answer it.  We’ll also go over the specs and range at some point too.

In the meantime, an anecdote.  The i30’s steering felt a little heavy by the standards of a small-medium modern car, so I did what I usually do with press cars and checked the tyre pressures.   My little kit of a Leatherman, 12v adaptor, USB cable and tyre pressure gauge often comes in handy!  Turns out the tyres were at 26 to 27psi after a short run, well off the mark of 32psi cold.  They’re now at 34, because I like them a little higher and it is frankly arctic in Melbourne at the moment so they’ll probably cool to 32 anyway overnight.  Low tyre pressures are never a good thing – poor fuel economy, handling, excessive tyre wear.  My record for press cars remains two tyres at 20psi and I shall not name the manufacturer.

Check back on this page as we’ll be posting updates at intervals of about weekly as we live with, and see whether we love Australia’s new best-selling car – for last month, anyway!

 IMG_7913

  • RWD

    Will be interesting to see what you make of the i30. They are great value. Our family picked up an elantra in June (the bigger boot suited our needs better than the hatch). Hyundai don’t add the elantra’s sales figures to i30 sales, but if they did (as Toyota do with the Corolla sedan and hatch, and Mazda do with the 3 sedan and hatch) Hyundai would have had almost double the sales of the Corolla and 3 for June! They would be the biggest selling car in Australia YTD.

    • CogitoErgoZoom

      Cancer is popular too….

  • Paul

    You may also consider getting a wheel alignment check as some brand new cars are not correct.

    • True Paul, but the tyres do not show signs of undue wear so I think that’s ok.

  • AUSDAVIDZ

    No CD player…….FAIL

    • Really?

      • CogitoErgoZoom

        I agree, no CD player, i am not interested, oh and classic banter with your misses 🙂

  • Doug Mullett

    Single dry clutch – dual dry clutch – what about multiple disc clutches running in oil?
    So many people – I would never have a diesel – and then they drive one and are immediately converted. Why can’t Holden run a Commodore diesel? They’d still be planning on making cars here if they did!
    It seems the i30 and similar models have matured Hyundai, even though like all brands, they can’t satisfy every customer.

    • Not sure a diesel would save the Commodore…it’s now a poison name as people automatically turn off thinking too big, too heavy, too old.

  • Fred

    Whats the drivers leg-room like ? Does it have reach adjustable steering wheel ?

    Thx

  • Maggie Dee

    Hey Robert,
    What is the real world fuel economy?
    Don’t be shy….What is it really?????

    • Maggie check the latest update, it is at 5.6L/100km during commuting runs. To some extent fuel consumption checks are pointless as it is so dependent on your specific use and the conditions. In general, I’d take the combined figure for any car and add 20% for commuting and round-town use. The i30 is holding to that rule so far. Really cold weather is great for economy once the engine heats up, really hot weather is bad because of the heated air and use of aircon. Also, I can vary consumption +/- 50% just by driving style.

      I’ve just asked Hyundai about the Eco mode which I suspect is pure marketing greenwash, but let’s see what they come back with.

  • Shane Chislett

    Hi Robert. I love your car reviews. A very practical
    approach & in-depth analysis. I presently have a My12 Skoda Octavia 90TSI
    in which I will be trading-in next year for a new car. I am approaching 60
    years of age and find that my priorities in choosing a near car are now based
    on low cabin road noise (since I frequently travel on country course sealed bitumen
    roads), ride comfort & good outward vision. I am not concerned any more
    about sporty handling and 0-100 performance figures. I will keep reading your
    reviews and if you could mention the low noise levels are, & how is the ride
    comfort of the cars you review, I would be grateful.

    Regards, Shane Chislett

    • Thanks Shane. The i30 is not the most luxurious rider on the market, nor the quietest. It is however quite good at both and I have no complaints in either criteria, but for real softness I would direct you towards the likes of Camry (just tested) for easy-driving comfort. Also, whichever car you buy can often be made more comfortable and quieter by a simple change of tyres to quality aftermarket units. Refer to our Tyre Choosing guide for more details.

  • htcs

    I almost bought one in 2010 when the wagons were in vogue. 1st on my shortlist too. I spent 5 mins in the Hyundai showroom then walked out because they couldn’t sell me a top of the line manual. To get the good gear, you had to have an auto. I’m not sure if it’s the same now.

    • Five years on and what was an option will now be standard, so yes.

    • Razbolch R

      Yes htcs, I like to DRIVE not steer and prefer manual cars. Growing up in Europe you only had an automatic if A you couldn’t pass a test in a manual or B were disabled.
      It really shits me that the top specs are not an option in manual cars or cannot be ordered as requested.

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a freelance journalist, driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com