Our Cars

Hyundai i30 long-term test

The third-generation Hyundai i30 is billed as the brand’s best small car yet, so, will the SR Premium impress us over the coming months?

What are we testing: The Hyundai i30 SR Premium

Who’s running it: Isaac Bober, Founder & Head of Content

Why are we testing it: The Hyundai i30 is one of the best-selling cars in the country, and this new model needs to build on that and out-step the competition.

What it needs to do: Handle everything from long-distance commutes into the Big Smoke, to the school run, the weekly grocery trip, runs to the hardware store and given its sporting bent, be entertaining into the bargain.

2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium

Pricing From $33,950+ORC Extras: $495 metallic paint; 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)


October 17 – Catching up on lost time

WITH TOO many cars in my driveway waiting to be tested and my mother trying to decide what will become her retirement car, I threw her the keys to our long-term i30 SR for a couple of weeks to see whether it might just be the car for her.

As you might have gathered, I’m a big fan of the i30 and particularly the SR premium… it’s got just about everything that opens and shuts. Indeed, right now, there’s a Discovery Sport parked on my driveway and that thing gets heated leather seats but not ventilated seats like the i30. The Disco Sport starts at $55k.

Sure, these are two very different machines and ones unlikely to ever be cross-shopped but I’m trying to make the point that for the price you get the sort of stuff in the i30 that you don’t get in luxury cars. Indeed, the i30 SR Premium gets goodies the more expensive and roomier Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT doesn’t. Indeed, the i30 SR Premium gets stuff the new top-spec Kona Highlander doesn’t, of course, the Kona offers all-wheel drive and the i30 SR Premium doesn’t but, if you don’t need an ‘SUV’ the bang for your buck’s choice is the i30 SR Premium, but I digress.

So, my aging mother has been pottering around in the i30 SR Premium and has just dropped it back. What follows is my best interpretation of her thoughts and, yes, I did have to prompt her.

Let’s start with the infotainment… She’s got a smartphone but for my mum, the height of technical wizardry is being able to make a collage out of the photos on her phone and then text them to family and friends. So, when I explained she could plug in her phone and use it instead of the car’s infotainment system it just about blew her mind. She said she’d give it a whirl but hadn’t when I asked her after her two weeks with the thing. Shame.

What about the space inside the car? Like me, mum found the i30 to be a roomy little thing that was perfectly sized for both her and my father. He’s got a crook back and he found the seat could be adjusted to be comfortable, even after, say, 100km behind the wheel. There was some grandparent duties performed during the loan period, and both of my parents thought the i30 performed well as a small family car.

With only two of them now at home, the weekly shop is much smaller than it used to be. But, mum said the elasticised net in the boot was great for keeping her shopping in place although she found the clips a little fiddly to use.

So, for my mum, the i30 offered more technology than she’d likely ever use, was more than big enough for her lifestyle. What about the quality?

According to mum, the i30 SR Premium was one of the most luxurious cars she’d ever been in. See, while yours and my generation might expect a cheap as chips hatchback to have heated and ventilated seats, for my mum, that sort of whizz-bangery is the domain of Rolls-Royce. I shouldn’t mis-paint her as someone who’s hidden under a rock and never driven anything more flash than a 1970s Toyota Corolla; rather she’s the proud owner of a now-tired 1998 Subaru Outback and my old man owns a P38 Range Rover (yep, he’s a glutton for punishment). Moving on.

The fit and finish, according to mum, was excellent and she felt there was a decent amount of storage. She liked the materials used and the contrasting colour surrounds on the air vents, etc.

But, she felt there was just a little bit too much grunt. Indeed, she said she occasionally felt like she was hanging on as her lead foot propelled the thing towards the horizon. Granted, mum’s been driving around in an old Outback which would now be nowhere near making the power and torque it used to when new. She liked the gearbox and thought it was better than the DSG she’d sampled in her friend’s Golf 7. Ouch. For my mum, the 2.0-litre four-pot i30 would be more than enough engine.

What about the ride? She was a fan; living out in Bathurst the roads she drives on can be a mix of super-smooth or super-rubbish and she said the i30 felt comfortable no matter where she was driving. She didn’t fling it around any corners but she did say the steering was nice and that she felt ‘in control’ at all times while driving.

While she said she’d have to get used to the power, mum did say the i30 is now at the top of her consideration list but a friend of hers has a Mazda 3 that she wants to try before committing. I didn’t want to cloud her judgement, but I think she’ll be coming back to the i30.

28 September 2017 – How practical is the i30 SR Premium?

Let’s not beat around the bush here, the i30 SR Premium is a small car, but does that mean it isn’t very practical? Let’s take a closer look. And, my apologies for missing an update last week.

Starting at the front and working our way back there are door bins that’ll hold a 500ml-plus water bottle with room left over for your wallet, or a purse to be stashed alongside the bottle. The shape of the bottle holder is such that secondary items won’t fall into the space when the bottle is removed which is good.

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

Then, there’s the door grab handle which, unlike some cars, isn’t just a hole which means you can actually do as I do and use it to keep the keys in. You won’t forget them because you’ll feel them as you open the door… more than that, the car won’t let you lock it when they’re inside the thing.

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

Move towards the centre of the car and there’s a deep storage bin ahead of the gear shifter with a lid that can be closed to hideaway all of the receipts and chocolate wrappers that’ll end up being stored in there. If you don’t fill it full of rubbish, the bin affords plenty of room for your phone with Qi wireless charging available. There’s also a 12V, Aux and USB outlets.

On the other side of the shifter are the cup holders, and the divider is removable turning the space into a large rectangle for storing… pens? There’s a roll-top style lid that can be closed over this space. And there’s a small storage bin beside the cup holders.

The centre console isn’t super wide but it’s deep and with a 12v outlet at the bottom. The padded lid is at the right height and location to use as an elbow rest while driving. Up at the top of the windscreen is the obligatory sunglasses holder… I never thought anyone used them, I never do, but a question asked on Facebook once revealed that the overwhelming majority of people use them to indeed hold their sunglasses.

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

The glovebox is a decent size and will take a few more small items as well as the owner’s handbook.

Moving into the back there’s room again in the door bins for 500ml water bottles with some additional storage beside the bottle. There are nets on the back of the front seats for keeping an iPad in. The middle of the middle seat back can be folded down for use as an elbow rest or, if you’ve got kids, as a demarcation line that neither child can cross to avoid backseat arguments… some of them. There are cup holders in the fold down rest too.

My daughter still requires a booster seat and, as you can see, our seat fits neatly into the i30 without her losing any legroom or filling up the doorway and making it hard for her to climb into the car. There’s even enough room, if she’s sat in the seat, for her brother to squeeze through the back. There are ISOFIX mounts that are easily accessible on the two outboard seats.

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

It’s nice and easy to fold down the back seats via the seat shoulder-mounted levers, and I particularly like the fact the seatbelt doesn’t get caught in the seat when it’s being raised back up.

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

There’s 395 litres of space in the boot and the i30 SR Premium gets a dual floor thanks to its space saver spare. You can now buy a full-size spare for an extra $550 which reduces boot space slightly. There are two small bins at the edge of the boot floor at the back of the wheel arches. These bins are hard and so can be used to hold a bottle of water or waterless car wash and a rag, or some other sort of liquid… you get my point.

The grey suitcase in the image is large enough for a week away with enough room around the larger port for soft bags and the kid’s scooters. Or, you could stand the port up and fit in another suitcase and still have room for a smaller suitcase or softbags. I did have to remove the parcel shelf, though.

Hyundai i30 practicality review by Practical Motoring

Folding down the seats liberates even more space (1301 litres) but the boot floor isn’t flat. Leave on of the back seats up, though, and there’s a small lip that helps to keep you bag from sliding backwards. And, I’m a huge fan of the standard-fit elastic net; this thing is great for keeping your weekly shop from sliding around the boot, or even keeping small suitcases from rattling around.

In all, there’s quite a lot of storage space inside the i30 and the front and back seats offer plenty of head, shoulder and leg room. You’ll fit three adults across the back seat, although the one in the middle won’t be as comfortable as the two in the outboard seats because of the shape of that middle perch.

The boot is a decent shape and with up to 1301 litres of storage space, the i30 SR Premium is a properly flexible and spacious small car.


15 September 2017 – i30 SR is a video star… sort of

This week’s been one of those one’s that comes and goes before you know it. The i30 SR Premium has been confined to the school run only this week, although I’m planing a run down to the big smoke this weekend for my son’s soccer academy.

That didn’t stop me from finding a spare five minutes to take a quick video of the i30 to give you a better look inside the thing. My apologies for the quality of the interim; the wind was literally blowing a gale and the microphone was clearly useless.

Our next video will be a look at the i30 SR’s ride and handling which will give me an excuse to take it out on a proper drive. The next written update will be a look at the thing’s practicality.


8 September 2017 – Taking a bite out of the apple… huh?!

Only a short update this week as I’ve been in and out of all sorts of cars this week from a Ford Everest Titanium to the WRX STI Spec.R that I reviewed earlier in the week. I’ve been syncing my phone up to each of the cars I’ve bene in and it has revealed some interesting findings. And that is, mainly, that I’m a sucker for a pretty face. And what I mean by that, before the speaker of the house reads this and… is that the interface of an infotainment system goes a long way towards how you, me, us, feel about it. And, indeed, how much we’ll use it.

Now, it wasn’t that long ago that Bluetooth and audio streaming were the height of connectivity and now we’ve got smartphones that’ll sync with our cars and show a version of their home screen, giving us access to key functionality like maps, text messages and music.

Don’t misread me, I’m not a fan of making our cars even more connected, because I already think that drivers on our roads are bad enough without wanting them to be multi-tasking even more when they should just be concentrating on driving their cars. So, being able to dictate a text message or update Facebook, while your car is parked, or even having your car act as a Wi-Fi hotspot is all just too much for me. See, I grew up in a time before Google and cut my teeth in media when websites were a novelty and not the norm. I remember interviewing someone about their favourite website (I was working on a marketing magazine) and, I kid you not, they said the Maille mustard website was their favourite. I can’t remember the reasons why they liked it, but I remember not batting an eyelid at the time because back then everything about the internet was exciting. But I’m becoming lost.

So, back to in-car infotainment… Both the Everest and the i30 offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity while the WRX didn’t… and, you know what, I really struggled with the system in the WRX. Yes, it could still play my soccer podcasts but getting to them was a nightmare and when listening to music it was a lucky dip as to whether it would begin playing the last song I’d listened to or something totally random. For me, there was just too much to do to get it working.

That’s not the case in the i30, indeed, I’d go so far as to suggest it’s probably the best Apple CarPlay and I assume Android Auto too (I don’t have an Android phone to test it) out of all the cars offering similar connectivity in this part of the market. The Everest isn’t in this segment and it’s in a whole other league because its native Sync3 system is so powerful, but I love the fact it offers smartphone connectivity because it does allow you to keep things simple and easy when you want.

But, the i30. The speed with which it connects and reconnects, always plays what I was listening to last, and gives me the choice of listing to music from either iTunes or Google Play is great. The audio quality when making a call is excellent and I’ve never had a drop out yet even in spots where I normally have a drop out in other cars, although whether that’s the car or the weather and my phone, or something else, I can’t quite say.

Hyundai’s system offers native sat-nav and I like that because I think it’s a cheap and nasty cop-out when a car company shouts that it offers smartphone connectivity and then whispers that it, at the same time, doesn’t offer native maps. And that’s because not everyone is going to connect their phone to the car every single time and so being able to use the native sat-nav, which is better in the Hyundai i30 than Apple’s mapping is great.

Personally, I think the level of functionality in the i30 SR Premium is spot on, I mean, having the ability to change the colour of the interior lights or how fast the doors auto lock is great, but do you really need to be able to deep dive into car functionality to that extent? No, give me a car that connects quickly and easily to my phone and allows me to get on with the job of driving the car rather than making me concentrate on both at the same time.


30 August 2017 – Pushed hard on our ride and handling loop…

Ordinarily, I update these reports at the end of each week, but on Monday I decided to finally get our Hyundai i30 SR Premium long-termer out onto my test loop. My loop is about 27.5km long and is located west of the Blue Mountains, and incorporates a stretch of highway, some of the most delicious corners you can imagine, a corkscrew-esque descent down into a valley that works the brakes hard and then onto a one-kilometre long stretch of the worst patched section of road you can imagine. Following that is a section of dirt a couple of kilometres long which then becomes bitumen again. Then more lovely corners and a hill crest that’s not only blind but also drops away so quickly that if you’re not careful you’ll get airborne off the top before it bumps back into the highway.

There’ll be some complaining that it’s too short… and you’d be wrong. By being 27km-long it allows me to do several loops, learning more about the car with each lap… car companies might hone their car’s ride and handling on the Nurburgring, but I use this loop to unravel them.

This is the sort of road that allows you to see into the soul of a car and will quickly reveal any flaws in the chassis, steering, suspension, brakes, tune of the traction or stability control, and the noise insulation. It’s also a hoot of a road to drive in the right sort of car.

And it just so happens that the i30 SR Premium is just the right sort of car. Okay, it’s easy for the nay-sayers to dismiss the i30 SR as just a warm hatch and some would suggest it isn’t even that… and they’d be wrong. Very wrong, with a cherry on top.

Drive the i30 SR to the shops and you’d think it feels nice to drive, and you’d be right, but you wouldn’t come away thinking it’s anything much more than that. It’s only when you grab the thing by the scruff of the neck and hurl it at a corner that demands it to actually work that the depth of A) the i30’s chassis, in general and, B) the work performed by the local engineers to the suspension and steering, is revealed.

But let’s pause a moment… the i30 SR has a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 150kW and 265Nm of torque from 1500rpm through to 4500rpm and this is mated to a seven-speed DCT (another name for a DSG). Now, when I tested this same transmission in the diesel-powered i30, I noted some hesitation when moving off from a standing start; this is occasionally a trait of DSG-type transmissions (always think about a DSG’s behaviour as if you were driving a manual, because it’s basically just an automated manual, I emphasise basically; of course there’s more to it than that), but that’s the not the case with the unit in our long-termer… it’s rifle-bolt precise and smart in the way it responds to the throttle.

And that brings me back to my road loop out in the country. On a road like this and in a car like the i30 SR you can be lifted from a melancholy mood after the first corner; that the sun was shining down on this day was icing on the cake.

Now, let’s talk about the noise insulation, and my apologies if this seems like I’m jumping all over the place. Making a car quiet is a clever way of making an affordable car seem like a more premium one, because who doesn’t like to drive along in serenity and not hear road noise, or the sound of another car rushing past you. And while you can test drive a car on a bitumen road and remark on how quiet it is, it’s only until you drive across a dirt road and there are plenty of these in Australia that you can separate the quiet cars from the serene ones.

i30 SR Premium on Practical Motoring's test loop

I was recently asked about road noise in the i30 SR by my neighbour, I responded by saying it was quiet, but after my drive earlier this week I can now remark that it’s not just quiet for a small car that costs less than $35,000, but it’s quiet for a car costing around $100,000. I’ve driven some of the better selling cars in this small car category across the dirt section of my test loop and they’ve sounded like I was making popcorn in the back seat. So, I have no hesitation in saying that the i30 SR might just be the quietest car in the segment.

What about its braking and turning on dirt? That was all good too… I nailed the brakes from 80km/h in a simulated emergency stop and while ABS is tuned in favour of bitumen, it kept the car straight under brakes and pulled it up quickly too.

The steering is well weighted and quick in its response with a nice, meaty and direct action. In general-driving it seems like there’s a slight lack of feel, but that’s not the case when you’re leaning on the car; there’s excellent feedback. Indeed, we’re lucky in this country as the steering response on our Hyundai i30s is much quicker than on the cars anywhere else in the world.

And the suspension tune is excellent. The way the i30 SR responds to mid-corner bumps or patchwork section of road really should be experienced to be believed. The Golf GTI is easily the king of the real-world hot hatches but I don’t reckon the suspension tune on it is as deep as the tune on the i30 SR. Push hard through a corner and you can feel the suspension pushing the wheels and tyres into the road and the tyres gripping into the surface; there’s bugger all body roll and mid-corner grip on a dry road is phenomenal. I can only imagine what the i30 N will be like.

i30 SR Premium on Practical Motoring's test loop

The traction control is tuned well, too, to the point that when you’re leaning hard into a corner and the inside tyre goes light and begins to spin, there’s no loss of momentum and rather than the vehicle pushing wide from the corner, stays hunkered down and on the line you’ve chosen. Push too hard and it still resists understeer with some gentle braking to keep the i30 SR on the right line through the corner.

So, after a drive across my road loop is there anything I didn’t like? Not really, no. The engine gives enough power and torque to fling the thing from one corner to the other with a real sense of urgency. And the brakes even though they copped a pounding felt strong with pedal response consistent; lots of hard stops and the thing has travelled less than 1000km.

In my next update, I’m going to spend some time fiddling around with the infotainment unit. And will explore the run-in period and how the i30 SR has changed after hitting 1000km.


25 August 2017 – Some questions that need answering…

THIS IS week three of our time with the i30 SR Premium and I’ve got a confession to make… I’ve only driven it once this week, and that’s because this week I’ve spent most of my time putting 4x4s through their paces up and down hills that were too steep to walk up and down, through water, mud, sand and across rocks. Unfortunately, the i30 was not the right tool for that job.

But there have been quite a few questions asked, and statements made about the new i30 I thought I’d address this week. The first being the back seat in an i30 with a panoramic glass roof. Our reader commented that they were disappointed they couldn’t sit in the back of an i30 with the glass roof without their head touching the roof.

Well, I can tell you that I’m six-foot tall and I can sit comfortably in the back seat with headroom to spare, and you can see the photo below for proof.

I30 SR Premium long-term update August 25
I’ve crimped up my fingers to try and show how much room I’ve got… it’s plenty.

Another question/statement related to the paint quality on the i30 with one reader saying a spray painter friend had noticed the paint looked like ‘orange peel’. Usually, an orange peel effect in car paint jobs is caused when the thinner in the paint evaporates too quickly causing the paint to dry unevenly and thus leaving the painted surface looking like the surface of an orange.

It’s not uncommon for new cars to have orange peel in their surfacing but it’s usually something picked up on inspection before the vehicle leaves the factory, or even once it’s emerged from the paint bay. Basically, the paint is drying before it’s had a chance to flow out and really is as simple as the wrong type of thinner being used.

After reading that note at the bottom of this article I decided to have a real close look at the paint on our i30… and, yes, if you look closely and in the right light you can see a slight orange peel effect to the paint. But, it should be noted that it’s only in small patch; the rest of the paintwork is flawless. I’ve asked Hyundai is this is an issue they’re aware of; it could have been a batch of cars in a particular colour and will report back once I’ve heard back from it. [UPDATE]: I’ve spoke with Hyundai and it hasn’t had any issues, so, that means my case is likely to be isolated. I’ll be taking the car back to Hyundai next week for them to have a look at the paint… will report back.

I30 SR Premium long-term update August 25
Look very, very closely and you can see orange peel effect on the paint, but only in one section.

Now, for the heated and ventilated front seat… in my neck of the woods it’s still very much a case of ‘winter is here’ and so switching on the ventilated seats is not on my to-do list, but in the name of science I did just that earlier today. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the icy chill that blasted up my back and then began to turn my legs to blocks of ice shortly after… if you’ve been watching Game of Thrones, I’m likening the sensation to Jon Snow falling into the icy water last Monday night.

So, to answer our reader’s question about how well the ventilated seats will work during the warmer months, I can say very well indeed. I switched mine to full blast, but turning them down to either one or two will still have a cooling effect. I can well imagine this switch getting a work out during an Australian summer and making a big difference to turning up to a backyard barbie as cool as a cucumber.

I30 SR Premium long-term update August 25
I thought the ventilated seat (the bottom switch) would be a bit of a nothing, but it’s excellent.

This week’s highlight: Apple CarPlay. Cleverly, Hyundai’s i30 offers owners the choice of using the native sat-nav or connecting your smartphone and making use of the respective operating systems’s in-car experience. But, one thing that stands out with the i30 and it’s not something that all infotainment systems with CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity offer, and that is the choice of not diving straight into CarPlay or Auto once your phone is connected.

Plug-in your phone into the i30 and the infotainment screen will keep the native sat-nav map on one half of the screen and, for me and my iPhone, a small green C displayed at the bottom of the other half of the screen. This means you can connect your phone to keep it topped up on charge without having to have an abbreviated version of its screen displayed on the car’s screen and then navigate back out to get to one of the car’s native functions… or choose to deep dive into your phone.


18 August 2017 – Into the city, the country and to the soccer

THIS WEEK the Hyundai’s been busy but not quite as busy as I’d hoped… it had a quick run out on one of my favourite stretches of road in the Blue Mountains; the road that runs from Blackheath down into the Megalong Valley. Interestingly, this is the one of the roads that Hyundai uses when testing its ride and handling combinations.

Indeed, if you read our recent news piece on the Genesis G70 testing in the Blue Mountains… well, it was this road the G70 was being driven along. Moving on.

The road carves its way down from the mountain top to the valley floor dropping down several hundred metres. It’s steep, tight and twisting, is filled with humps and bumps and is one of the best roads I know for finding all the weak spots in a vehicle’s chassis and steering… and brakes. And then, on the way up, how well the engine copes under the strain of the steep climb and constant corners.

Our Hyundai i30 SR Premium is still very new with less than 600km now on the clock, so my drive down into the Valley was a little bit less enthusiastic than if the thing had at least 1000km under its belt. But the big revelation for me was just how well the front-end handles both hard mid-corner holes and bumps without shimmying off line or jolting through the steering wheel. The compliance of the suspension in general coupled with the fact that it rides on 18-inch alloys show just well this thing has been tuned for Australian roads.

After my drive down into the Megalong Valley, a meeting in the city meant the i30 had to ferry me into the guts of the Big Smoke. While there’s been some moaning about dual-clutch transmissions, I’ve got to say the thing proved smooth at low speeds as we crept through Sydney’s usual all-hours-of-the-day gridlock. I could have used the native sat-nav to guide me to my destination, but with the address already pre-loaded on my phone, connecting via Apple CarPlay made the whole trip very easy.

For those who spend weekends schlepping around from child’s sports game to child’s sports game, I’m happy to report the i30 SR Premium works a treat as a soccer mum or dad car. I coach my son’s soccer team and so have to carry around the kit bag and all the balls. They fit easily into the back of the i30 as you can see.

Hyundai i30 SR Premium long-termer with soccer balls in the boot

This week’s highlight: This week I want to briefly touch on the Lane Keeping Assist functionality in Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety suite. Only available on variants fitted with a DCT, the lane keep will alert you if you’ve wandered while also gently steering you back into your lane… I took my hands off the wheel, not something you should be doing, and watched the wheel turn to describe a fairly long corner. It held the turn for a few seconds before letting go quite abruptly which saw the steering spring back to the straight ahead. It’s a good set-up and one that’s designed to assist if you’re momentarily distracted, like checking in the rear vision mirror or adjusting the air-con, but it doesn’t mean you can take your hands off the wheel and think the i30 will actively steer you around a corner… you need to keep your hands on the wheel.


11 August 2017 – The Hyundai i30 SR Premium joins our fleet

IF YOU’VE READ any of our Hyundai i30 reviews you’ll get the distinct impression that we’re just a little bit impressed with the third-generation model. And we kind of liked the second-gen i30, too. But, driving around in a car for a week and then giving back the keys is a little different to living with one for any real period.

In the week, we have our test cars we try and do as much with them as possible to replicate an ownership experience. But, there’s no substitute for time and so we’ll be living with the new Hyundai i30 SR Premium to see if, as I’m on record as saying, that it’s the new small car benchmark.

Last week when I tested the entry-level i30 Active I said how much I enjoyed it and that if you didn’t want, need all the fruit or were shopping on a budget then it represented real bang for your buck. And while I’ve been happy to live with that car for a few months, I’m secretly very happy indeed that Hyundai decided to offer the top-spec SR Premium instead. Besides offering more kit and a nicer interior there’s a lot more to explore and talk about with this thing.

Hyundai i30 SR Premium

Recently we received a question about how well the new i30 will hold together compared with, say, a Toyota Corolla over a five-year period. Well, I won’t be able to answer that question definitively, but I will be able to get part way there with this weekly series of updates on our long-term i30 SR Premium.

I’ve only just picked up the i30 and have only added around 110km to its delivery specification odometer reading of 196km. And those kays were all freeway from Hyundai’s head office in Sydney to my home perched on top of the Blue Mountains. But, before we get into my initial impressions, let’s explore the i30 SR Premium and look at what you get for your $33,950+ORC (see the image below that details the step-change from SR to SR Premium).

Hyundai i30 SR Premium long-term test

Hold your hand over the name of the car and look through the features list and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at a premium brand vehicle. The SR Premium offers heated and ventilated front seats; I can remember testing an E63 AMG half a dozen years ago that had these fitted and now they’re being fitted to a $30k Hyundai i30… Our long-termer comes with plenty of standard kit to the point that there aren’t any extra cost options except for metallic paint at $495.

So, what do I think of the i30 SR Premium SR so far. Well, I like it. I’m going to drive it responsibly during the run-in period but I did give it a bit of a squirt on the drive home and I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this car. The turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder is a very nice little engine with a decent amount of shove offering 150kW and 265Nm of torque; although it feels like more torque. Our car has the seven-speed DCT that we also tested this week in the i30 Diesel. Obviously, because it’s bolted onto a different engine, the DCT in the SR Premium has none of the hesitancy in on-off throttle situations and responds cleanly to the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Hyundai i30 SR Premium long-term test

The leather seats are nice and grippy without being too tight and, even with the front seats set to suit me I’m still able to sit comfortably behind. The middle seat is a perch but the flattened off transmission tunnel means an adult could use the seat in a pinch.

The boot offers 395 litres of storage space but the floor can be set at two heights, meaning there’s a little bit of hidden storage space on top of the space saver spare when you raise the floor. There’s a net latched to the tie-down points which makes for a mess-free drive home when the boot’s full of groceries.

This week’s highlight: It would be remiss of me not to mention the panoramic glass roof on our i30 SR Premium. I’m not generally a fan of these things as the sun-blinds are generally sub-par at keeping the sun out. But, the blind in the i30 is excellent, so much so, that if you didn’t point out the roof passengers probably wouldn’t notice. So, full marks to Hyundai for fitting a proper sun blind to the panoramic roof.

Next week: The i30 SR Premium will get a baptism of fire as it spends a week on the school run and gets put through its paces on my ride and handling road. I might even get to put a short video together.


  • Three Pedals Only

    It will be refreshing to read (hopefully) some ‘real world’ relevant reviewing and useful comments for this vehicle. For example, how strong are the headlights and high-beam at night on an unlit road, what is the reversing camera display like in a dark area, how does the vehicle handle and brake in the wet, does an optional full-size alloy spare fit OK under the raised boot floor and what is the effect on power with four persons on board? Just to name a few.

    A test drive doesn’t allow one the opportunity to check those noted – and other – ‘real world’ situations.

    I look forward to reading your future updates (and comments).

    • Hi Three Pedals Only, I’ll do my best to make sure I cover off on all the real-world aspect of this vehicle. – Isaac

      • John John

        Isaac, any word on that full size spare yet? I asked on a different artcile some weeks ago.

        • Three Pedals Only

          John John, as regards a full size spare for the 2017 Hyundai i30 SR; type ‘2017 Hyundai i30 SR with full sized spare wheel upgrade’, you will see a YouTube video titled Going Spare.

          • John John

            Thanks for that! John Cadogan says Hyundai are about to introduce an optional full size spare for the SR – you beauty! Coincidentally, I test drove the SR just yesterday, it’s a pretty good thing – with a full size spare it would meet all of my requirements.

      • John John

        Isaac, you mention again in your latest video that buyers can buy a full size spare. Sorry to keep harping on about it, but as far as I can tell a full size spare still isn’t available as an option (despite John Cadogan’s recent video stating one would soon be available). My local dealer knew nothing about it – and quoted me over $1,500 to buy another full size wheel!

        There’s every chance I’d buy an SR if I could get a full size spare – without having to pay a ridiculous $1,500 for it.

        • Hi John John, I was told by Hyundai’s head of PR that a full-size spare is now available for the SR and lists for $500. It became available this month (September). Cheers Isaac

          • John John

            Many thanks, Isaac.

            $500 is sure a lot better than $1,500, and nothing beats the feeling of security you get when going on a long trip knowing you can get a flat tyre and not have it completely ruin your day.

            The last two flat tyres I had were both well over 200 km from home – imagine doing that trip at 80 kph max!

  • Lozan Haynes

    Thoroughly disappointed that at 175cm height, I can’t sit in the rear of sunroof equipped variants without touching the roof lining. I really want the top spec model, why couldn’t the sunroof be optional as in the mid spec model?

    • Richard White

      Very Strange ,I can sit in the back of my wifes 2014 i30 and I’m 184cm tall without hitting my head on the roof, I tried the new i30 and i had no issues with head room either. Sure you sat in an i30 ?

      • Lozan Haynes

        When I test for rear headroom, I sit with my backside all the way rearward in the seat squab (to avoid lower back pain caused by slouching) adjust the headrest to the supportive height and then place my head on it. By doing so, your head is rearward of the scalloped section for the sunroof and indeed touching the roof lining causing you to slouch, then hello lower back discomfort! Thanks for your pic anyway Isaac

  • Richard White

    Hi Isaac, happy to see youv’e joined our Lover of i30 pregade .As I mentioned last post , fantastic car to drive and great interior.. Dropped in and saw my mate in charge of sales at the Hyundai dealership last week , and he stated what millions of others have thought and stated over the look of the new i30.” If I can get them past the look of the car and get them to drive it, they fall in love with it”, it’s a world beater “. Got to love Hyundai. Have you seen the Hyundai i30 station wagon being released soon, it looks identical to the i30 coupe only stretched longer, exactly same roof lines.

  • JohnGC

    I like this car. When the weather warms up a bit could you please comment on the air ventilated seats. Are they a gimmick or do they work in cooling you down? Thanks.

  • Three Pedals Only

    After I expounded the virtues of the PD Hyundai i30 to a friend (who is a spray painter), he decided to view a few PD i30’s at a dealership.

    From a paint finish perspective he wasn’t impressed.

    “There was ‘see through patches’ [poor paint coat coverage] on some and ‘orange peel’ on a few others. With the ‘patches’ they probably used the ‘base colour tint added to the undercoat/primer coat’ trick; it lets them use less base coats, it’s bloody hard to colour match and even harder to blend.”

    “And when you finally do pick up the ‘see through patches’ and or the ‘paint peel’ a few months after you had driven it out of the dealership, it won’t be their problem it’ll be yours.”

    “You might be OK with one painted in ‘small-goods’ white. Or else give it six months and see if the Hyundai painting robots have lifted their painting game.”

    After his words, I think need to see if my friend would agree to check the paint-work on my new car, before it is driven out of the dealership.

    The issue of ‘orange peel’ with PD Hyundai i30 has been noted in the ‘Hyundai i30 2017 Review’ on July 03, 2017 by the ‘Motoring’ car review site.

  • Rob Garland

    We bought our daughter the old I30, which has been a fabulous car so far.
    With the new I30 petrol turbo, is it 6 monthly servicing or 12?

    • Lozan Haynes

      I30 petrol turbo is 12mth/10000km servicing (heat from turbo reduces oil life).
      I30 diesel and naturally aspirated petrol models are 12th/15000km service intervals.

  • Chissy

    Hi Isaac, I just read your ‘Long term review – 30 Aug, and thought it was a great review I was particularly
    interested in your comments regarding the i30’s low road noise levels. Road noise levels are a number one priority in choosing my next new vehicle. I presently own a Golf 7 Comfortline, and find that he road noise levels are ‘just’ acceptable, but I would like prefer them much lower. It’s good to read reviews that
    mention the vehicle’s NVH levels, as some of our country roads have course chipped surfaces, which I travel on frequently. I look forward to reading your upcoming reviews on different vehicles.

  • Lozan Haynes

    G’day Isaac,
    I read the description of your “test loop” and had myself thinking……
    Coxs River rd > Lowther Siding rd > Jenolan Caves rd back to Great Western hwy is 28km, but to complete the loop would be 33km (more than your stated 27km).
    Then I saw some of your photos. Was I warm (like the SR hatch you are punting)?

    • Yes, Ben, you are. I knew the description and the pics would give it away for anyone who knew the road(s) but I purposely misstated the distance. And would you agree that it’s an excellent loop for unravelling a car? Cheers Isaac

  • Tanya

    hello,
    I am looking at buying a new car, unsure which one .. which would you recommend – i30sr or lancer gsb I have been told they are both good cars …
    regards
    tanya

    • james.

      Well i30 was released this year and is already being considered the new small car benchmark by most… The Lancer was released 10 years ago. In the car world, it’s two generations behind the times. Whoever recommended the Lancer is not a friend and should not be trusted.

      • Blake

        The fact is, the Lancer is a relatively cheap (compared to most others), and usually reliable transport. There is nothing wrong with recommending one.
        Even though it is an older design, I have driven one for 8 years, without a single problem. That’s a record in my car history.
        Yes, the latest i30 is more modern, but never discount the real value of reliability.
        People want to be able to jump in their car and go. Every day, every time. The Lancer does this very well. And the latest GSR continues this tradition.
        Saying that, I am not saying that the i30 is unreliable, merely that I think the Lancer cops a raw deal from those ignorant of it’s qualities.
        We will be updating soon, which is why I am reading this article, so I do like the new i30. But I will not bag the Lancer after our own 8 year experience, which has been faultless. There are very few cars you can say that about.

    • Hi Tanya, I think the better bet would be the i30. As it says in another comment, the Lancer really is outclassed by everything else in this segment. – Isaac

    • dazeet

      Hi Tanya!

      If your definition of “good” = the best/greatest overall, then of course the i30 SR if both are asking the same price.

      Thing is, without negotiating, the Lancer GSR is currently asking around 15% less. The i30 SR is still in front if you won’t miss the extra $5,000 or so. But have a look at an i30 Active first, especially if you do not need all the extra features and the turbocharger etc. That way, you will still get a “good” car and pocket some significant savings.

      But if it is my money, my definition of “good” (i.e. something that rides and handles adequately + mechanically proven + does not cost the earth to own, run, and maintain + passes with flying colours, a proper independent professional pre-purchase inspection that I pay for myself etc.), and based on my usage pattern (i.e. low km/year), a 3-year-old Lancer GSR – essentially the same car – can cost up to 55% less to buy (based on the cheapest one currently available with less than 20,000km), than the cheapest PD i30 SR. That is a deal that I personally find difficult to walk past for around $17,000 saving upfront. I would also consider any other well-maintained CJ/CF Lancers with 7 airbags. Or any well-maintained used YD Cerato Si/SLi. Or a new YD Cerato S, albeit at a slightly reduced saving.

      Kind regards,
      Jeff

      • Thanks Jeff, but, I think in this case the i30 Active would be a better buy than a three-year old Lancer. And, if you can hold off until later this year, Tanya, then it’s likely the entire i30 range will run the full Hyundai active safety suite. – Isaac

  • Three Pedals Only

    Your 30th August weekly instalment was a very good read; I was lifted from a melancholy mood after the first read. And just as with the previous weekly reviews, the answers to some of the questions from the posted comments were succinct, relevant and informative; all resulting in giving me an insight into the Hyundai i30 SR that could never have been gained regardless of the number of test drives undertaken. Early days I know, however when you take a night drive in an unlit area, I’d appreciate knowing how strong the headlights and high-beam are, and what the reversing camera display is like in a dark area. Keep up the great work.

  • Ryan James

    I’ve been in the market for a small car recently and was greatly interested in the i30. Really, I think the amount of technology, features and performance packed into the car is amazing and at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately though when I took it on two extended test drives I found some things that aren’t mentioned in the mainly very positive reviews.

    For me the greatest issue was the seats. They’re too firm and shaped in such a way to cause me sciatica after 15 minutes of driving (literally pain in the butt). This is something I’ve never experienced in cars before except on very long road trips – no amount of adjustment helped on the SR or SR Premium. Also, the suspension which is lauded by many reviewers is also too firm for a comfortable commuter especially at speeds of 60km/h or less on bumpy roads (which are common as dirt in Australia). The too-firm suspension, in tandem with the large low-profile tyres, transmits every little bump and large jolt to the car’s occupants. It actually was enough to cause my Dad to get car sick when sitting in the passenger seat, which never happens in any vehicle we currently own.

    Cabin noise is also a problem: wind noise is low but tyre noise is variable. Usually it’s ok but over coarse chip roads it’s deafeningly loud. Others have reported that changing out the stock Hankooks for a quieter tyres helps. Finally, the sound system in the i30 is below par; not clear at all (nice that it has DAB radio though).

    In short, I wanted to buy the i30 based on everything it has on paper but on the road it was too uncomfortable a ride. As a result I had to fall back on my second choice: the VW Golf Comfortline, which was a much more comfortable ride. It’s handles coarse chip roads with no problems and has a much better stereo system. But I wish it had the i30s engine and Hyundai’s 5 year warranty. Hopefully, Hyundai can put the SRs petrol engine in one of its comfort models, then people like me will be able to buy one.

    • dazeet

      Have you tried the i30 Active? I am guessing it may be a bit softer to ride on and a bit more comfy to sit in.

      As for noise, besides the change of tyres, perhaps some Dynamat and replacement speakers (or more) from a reputable stereo installer?

      • Ryan James

        The i30 Active lacks the more powerful turbo engine and safety tech that made the SR attractive to me in the first place so I didn’t consider it. There are rumours that the safety tech will be offered as an optional extra sometime soon which will be good for those who are happy to stick with the last generation engine to save some money. In the end the VW Golf was a package that better suited my needs even though I’m not a fan of VW as a manufacturer (in the past they have released immature products to market which have had huge reliability problems).

    • Ben Haynes

      Your last sentence has been my only thought since the i30’s release.
      Perhaps try to buy some 16″ i30 Active alloys from Fleabay or Gumstick, as people often upgrade the wheels when they buy the base model.
      This is the only way that I would buy a Mazda 3 with the equipment grade required.

  • Hugh Madd

    Hi Isaac. I have the i30 SR, had it for about 3 weeks. Love it for all the same reasons you do. With Android Auto, I just can’t get into a good routine of plugging my phone in/running it all. Do you use a cradle or a short USB (I have a longish cord and it looks tacky/plays havoc with my OCD haha) or something that makes it quick and easy? Any tips around how you use it all would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for the reviews, I’ve found more things to love about my car because of them.

  • Three Pedals Only

    As one who is of the view that ‘lane-keep assist’ (steering intervention) is the work of fiendish minds – catering for those who should hand in their car keys for a public transport pass – I was hoping that Practical Motoring could share their views on the steering of both the i30 SR manual and i30 SR Premium – on a straight piece of bitumen.

    Whilst most Aussie car scribes salivate about the ability of the i30 SR motoring through a set of curves, I have read the following review comment – for the i30 SR manual – from an Aussie car scribe:
    “You receive a good balance of feedback from the road, except at higher speeds. In our opinion it can feel a little nervous to keep in a straight line, and it tends to require effort to keep in lane. Part of this is down to the less-than-perfect electric steering.”

    I look forward to reading your views.

    • Andrew Davidson

      I’ve only driven the SR on rural motorways for about three hours so far but I hadn’t noticed any difference in the amount of effort to stay in the lane from other cars I’ve driven. If there was I would expect to have noticed it straight away rather than later after getting used to the car.

      I’m wondering if the scribe had the lane keep assist turned on. I have noticed that if you turn it on you do get a weird effect where it might disagree with you about where exactly the car should be in the lane and you are steering against it.

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.