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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)

Do you really need an SUV?

When it comes to buying a new car most people these days default to, it must be an SUV. Why? The majority of SUVs being purchased are all front-drive only which means no-one’s buying them for dirt road driving. Because, let’s face it, driving something that’s high riding down a dirt road that’s only two-wheel drive is likely to end in you picking bits of tree out of your face, or leave you hanging on a ditch if you try and drive it like a ‘proper rough roader’… Okay, I’m exaggerating for poetic effect.

And then there’s the argument that you get a better view of the road ahead from an SUV. Nope. Not really. In most cases an SUV is only sitting a few centimetres higher than its non-SUV equivalent. And, what are you trying to get a good view of? The back of another SUV… as long as you can see the brake lights of the vehicle in front and travel at a safe distance, what do you need to see?

And then there’s the storage space, or back seat space that an SUV offers. Wrong again. Let’s take the i30 and Kona as a case in point. The Kona offers less boot space than the i30 and doesn’t get rear air vents either. So, not only can you carry less stuff in the SUV those in the back seat won’t be as comfortable either.

You’ll find most SUVs in the hot-selling categories are just jacked up versions of hatchbacks, so, before you leap straight to the conclusion you need an SUV, take a look at its hatchback equivalent. In the case of Kona Vs i30, well, I’d take the i30 every single day of the week and weekend.

Be cool, or warm…

We’ve had some bonkers weather of late. Boiling hot one day and I mean, properly boiling hot with the mercury hitting 40-plus degrees C before plunging back down to 17-degrees C the following day. This means the climate control in the i30 has been copping a real work-out…

Yes, I’ll agree, this doesn’t sound like the most exciting post but I’ve found it fascinating and it’s going to lead to a larger yarn, two actually, one on how car makers measure the interior temperature of their vehicles via the climate control system, and another on how air-con and climate control differ and work.

Consider this, the abridged version. Obviously there’s a thermostat somewhere in the vehicle that tells the climate control when the interior of the car has reached the set temperature, and then, like your home air-con system when set to ‘automatic’ will keep blowing warm or cool air to maintain that temperature. But  don’t know just where the thermostat is, is it measuring the temp from right next to the outlets, or over in the boot? I’ll find this out and report back.

Let’s talk a bit about the difference between air-con and climate control. It’s pretty simple, really, because air-conditioning is a basic system that allows you to either cool or warm the air inside the car, and you can also control the fan speed. There’s generally no temperature advice, it’s just a blue or red line that’s thicker or thinner; the thicker the line the hotter or colder the temperature, etc.

With climate control, like you get in our i30 SR, you can set a specific temperature and the car will cool the cabin and then maintain that temperature. And, let me tell you, the system in the i30 is genius. I’ve currently got three press cars in the garage and so I decided to conduct an experiment. I had them all parked one behind the other and then got in each one in turn and drove each one around for 10 minutes with the climate control set to 19-degrees C (it was 28-degrees C outside): Car A (let’s call that the i30 SR) cooled to the temperature set in two minutes. Car B was a sportscar and it cooled to the set temp in 2min30secs, and Car B was a four-wheel drive with tri-zone climate control (I’ll explain that in a moment) and it took four minutes to cool to 19-degrees C.

The i30 SR offers dual-zone climate control which means the driver can set one temperature and the passenger another. It also offers rear air vents which take the driver’s side setting and pipe that air into the back. A 4×4 we’ve got at the moment offer tri-zone which allows those in the back to set their own temperature and fan speed entirely.

There’s a lot to unpack in how this all works, so, stay tuned for an article that breaks down climate control and how it actually works. But, in the meantime, know that the climate control system in the i30 is more than up to the task of keeping you cool and quickly too on a warm summer’s day.

Short Update

With Christmas fast approaching work seems to be getting busier with the Practical Motoring garage generally clogged with two cars each week. Unfortunately, it means I haven’t spent as much time with the i30 SR as I would like.

However, earlier in the week, after dropping back the Stinger GT, I took the i30 SR for a spin… just to properly get my Korean fix. Now I know I’ve raved about the i30, indeed, I’m proud to say that Practical Motoring was the first outlet to recognise the i30; it’s since picked up a bunch of accolades. Moving on.

A quick run along some of my favourite roads the other revealed a chassis that’s altogether more complete than the one under the Stinger. Sure, these are different cars, but there’s a fluidity from front to back and in the transmission the big Kia just doesn’t have. I’ve got a real soft spot for the i30 SR, as you can no doubt tell. 

Latest Instalment – Crashing cars… or not

AEB. It stands for Autonomous Emergency Braking and while it is undoubtedly a potential lifesaver, I’d had mixed experiences with it and other active safety features. I test drove a vehicle recently, the review will appear online shortly, and it’s lane keeping assist reacted to phantom lines on the road and kept trying to counter steer me into other cars while I fought against the steering.

I’ve also had AEB systems react to a concrete lane divider mid-corner and try and take me from 80km/h to 0km/h in the space of a few metres. And earlier this week I tested a lane keeping assist system where you could turn off the assist part but the warning would remain active giving you, if you hadn’t realised the system was off, like me, a false sense of security. The motoring hack I was in the car with and I nearly needed a change of trousers as the car wandered across the lane, beeping, but with no steering assistance.

So, I’m incredibly thrilled to say that Hyundai’s ActiveSense is nothing like that; and thank goodness for that too. Because, just yesterday, while on the school run and argu… I mean, negotiating with my children to be quiet… and travelling at the required 40km/h, a car pulled out ahead of me.

Now, I won’t lie, I was distracted and wasn’t expecting a numptie to pull out in front a bright red little Hyundai i30. By the time I realised what was happening and that I was about to leave an H pressed into the door of the Land Rover Discovery that had pulled out, the car came to the rescue. The brakes were applied autonomously, the collision was avoided and the tool int he Disco continued on their merry way oblivious to what had just transpired.

2 November – Nothing to report but I do need your help

This week has been hectic one where I’ve almost spent more time at the airport than I have at home. This week has seen me attending three new car launches, on Tuesday there was the updated Abarth 595, Wednesday the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport, and tomorrow I’ll be driving the new Hyundai Sonata.

All this travel has meant that I haven’t even sat in the i30 SR Premium, merely walked past it on my down to the airport. That said, another comment popped up at the end of this article from a reader who I, and others, have been debating about rear seat head room with the panoramic roof. Myself and others who’ve driven this new i30 claim you’ll fit a six-footer in the back seat easily even with the glass roof, while our commenter, who claims to have sat in the back of one recently and had his head touching the roof, doesn’t agree. So, what I’d like to do, is ask all the owners of a PD i30 (the new model) and who have a panoramic roof to share a photo of them sitting in the back of the car showing how much room they have above their head.

Next week is looking a little quieter and so hopefully regularly scheduled seat time will resume with our i30 SR Premium. I miss it.

October 27 – Another opinion

After my mother spent two weeks tootling about in our i30 SR Premium it was my wife’s turn to give her opinion. And her thoughts came via a series of texts… how very modern dictated while driving the car, which I’ve paraphrased.

A big fan of the way the i30 looks, Mrs B, thinks it looks conservative compared to the old i30 but more mature and European looking and she likes it, especially in our car’s orangey-red colour scheme. But she’s not so keen on the red metallic accents on the inside of the car, the contrast stitching or the red seat belts; I’m the opposite, I love them and think they help to lift the otherwise very dark cabin.

Connecting her phone was a doddle; you simply slug it in and then, whether you’ve got an iPhone or Android it’ll display the key features of your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Hey Siri worked well 9 times out of 10 and I can confirm that the voice to text messages came out just fine.

There’s plenty of room inside, according to Mrs B who found the driver’s seat to be very comfortable on her commute to work which is round trip of 100km. She found it was easy for the kids to get in and out and said the boot with its net made keeping the groceries in place a cinch. No-one likes chasing spilled groceries around a car’s boot.

The gearbox. While Mrs B said the engine was more than powerful enough she wasn’t too keen on the gearbox at low speed saying she thought it was a little jerky. The ride is excellent, says Mrs B, saying you can definitely feel that it’s been tuned for Australia, ironing out all the lumps and bumps in the road.

Not something that usually gets a mention, Mrs B wanted to make note of the headlights and how good she thought they were. She said they offer a nice wide spread, illuminating the edges of the road and that both the main and high beam are better than on our own family car.

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.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober