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Week 3: Hyundai i30 SR Long-Term Test

Last weekend our long-term Hyundai i30SR went in for its free 1500km service – the next is due at 15,000km – though the dealer would like to see us again by 7500km, reports Tony Bosworth.

Car: Hyundai i30SR
Date bought: November 18, 2013
Price paid: $28,000 drive-away
Extras: Phantom Black paint – $450
Delivery kilometres: 38km
Current kilometres: 2010km
Fuel consumption (mix of E10 and 91 octane, depending on availability), L/100km: best: 6.5, worst: 6.7, average: 6.6
Service costs: Nil

MY PLAN WAS TO GET OUR HYUNDAI I30 SR in for its free 1500km service (Hyundai, in common with all other car makers, call it a service but in reality it’s just a check) on a Saturday morning but I left the phone call late – I didn’t do it until the Wednesday but still, Sinclair Hyundai at Penrith said they’d be able to squeeze it in – excellent.

I dropped the car off just before 8am and then spent part of the morning at Westfield Penrith and even had time to take in a movie. At 11am the garage sent me a text saying the car was ready.

Nothing to report but the service technician said, “we’ll see you when it gets to 7500km then.”

Here’s the thing, Hyundai will tell you service intervals are 15,000km, which is good, yet in the service booklet there’s a 7500km service too. Now, in fairness it does say in the service and warranty booklet that this is for vehicles operating in what Hyundai call “demanding driving conditions” which include, “more than 50 per cent driving in heavy city traffic during hot weather above 32C”. Well, that’s all Sydney and Brisbane drivers then. There’s also “driving in dusty conditions/rough roads” and, “driving in mountainous areas”, which definitely covers anyone in the NSW Blue Mountains where I live, as well as most other mountain and country areas nationwide.

The dealership that we bought our long-termHyundai i30 SR from

When we bought the car, the salesman who handed it over and who talked me through the servicing said, “you don’t have to do the 7500km services,” and then looked me straight in the eye and said, “but if you come back to us in four years time to part-ex this car we’ll look on you a lot more kindly if they’ve been done.” That means you won’t get as much for your Hyundai if you haven’t done the 7500km ones too.

Sinclair’s service technician, when I quizzed him on the 7500km service said, “we think 15,000 is far too long a time. We like to see you more than once a year.” I’ll bet you do.

Anyway, we’ll be sticking to the 15,000km service intervals because I reckon the SR would be in the service bay every three months or so if we did 7500km stops. Not only that, Hyundai press vehicles don’t get the 7500km service…

What worries me though is this, if anything goes wrong with the SR and we haven’t had those 7500km services there is significant wriggle room for Hyundai to deny free repairs under warranty. This should be a concern for all potential Hyundai owners. I also say this because – and I know I keep bringing this up – I also run a 2008 Mitsubishi 380 with service intervals of 15,000km, and there is no suggestion there that anything other than the 15,000km services should be carried out, so no niggling concerns about warranty cover, which is good because my 10-year drivetrain warranty continues until 2018.

Now, a bit about the car itself.

Build quality seems very good. Aside from the earlier issue with the split leather on the driver’s seat, everything fits well and appears to be good quality. One thing I like is the padded driver’s door armrest. If you’re cruising it’s comfy to rest your elbow there.

There’s a good, solid feel to the car, the doors shut with an expensive sounding thunk and the metal is thick, and comparable, – and sometimes better than – others cars in its price range.

The Hyundai i30 SR's 2.0-litre four-cylinder offers decent grunt

Now, this is no out and out sports machine. I’ve said before it’s a warm rather than hot hatch, but the 2.0-litre engine has some real punch if you push it. It never sounds sporty though, which is a bit of a shame, though I’m guessing that will come with the much mooted turbo version.
I’ve been driving a lot of road test Hyundai i30s over the past few weeks (reports coming up very soon…) so it’s easy to compare this bought one with finely fettled press vehicles.

First noticeable difference is the amount of wind noise which is very evident on the SR but not so on the SE or Active I’ve driven recently. I don’t know why this should be but I’m going to go over the shut lines with a microscope and see where that issue lies.

The SR’s gearchange – a manual six-speed – is precise enough but it’s also notchier than other i30s. I don’t yet know whether that’s because of the linkages being different in the bigger 2.0-litre (the other i30s are 1.6 and 1.8-litres), or whether it’s a looming issue…we shall see. Changing into fourth or sixth, there’s a snick, just like two snooker balls colliding.

The Hyundai i30 SR pedal box

By far the biggest annoyance for me is the finicky bite point on the clutch, especially in first gear. It drives me crazy in stop-start driving because you need to rev the engine more than you should to avoid a stall (I’ve not been successful on several occasions…). I’m hoping this will settle down a bit as the clutch naturally wears and beds in, and in fairness it already seems a bit better.

Still, most cars these days don’t have this difference between models. Back in the 1980s when I worked on What Car? magazine, it was common for big variances in clutch bite, but I thought that had long gone. On Hyundai road test i30s there’s often a difference between models in this respect, which really shouldn’t be the case, but it’s minimal on the press cars and certainly none I’ve driven are as bad as our SR.

The SR is an Australia-only version so local engineers have spent a good deal of time sorting the suspension for Aussie roads. The result is a very firm – but never harsh – ride. But, it’s always busy. You get to know every little undulation and bump. Even on the billiard-table smoothness of the M2 motorway there’s movement, a slight tremble through the body. It is something you’ll get used to, and it has benefits when it comes to handling, no doubt about that, with virtually no body roll, flat cornering, super grip and quick turn-in, thanks also to the precise and well-weighed steering.

There's plenty of grip from the tyres and the wheels look nice.

Hyundai have some bizarre differences in their i30 range, one of which is that the Czech-built three-door SE (special edition), which I had a week ago, has independent multi-link rear suspension while the Korean-built SR has a solid beam rear axle.

Call me old fashioned, but shouldn’t that be the other way around? A multi-link system is simply better and whole lot more flexible, especially for a sporty model. In the SR a bad bit of country road – and there’s plenty of those – taken at a decent speed can make the back axle tramp around just a tad.

The point is, frankly, I’d love the SE’s ride and handling package in the SR. The SE’s suspension is more fluid (read, more comfortable), the car still handles exceptionally well and has a suppleness over bumps the SR ultimately lacks. Yes, you can crash the SE down on its suspension stoppers given a big bump and with a full load of people aboard, while the SR copes with that situation far better, but for overall driving enjoyment the SE’s system is better.

Next week I’ll look at some of the key practicalities – or otherwise – of our long term SR as the kilometres race on by and we’ll take some time to stuff it with beach paraphernalia, and, of course, the kids…


  1. December 16, 2013 at 5:09 am — Reply

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  5. Doug Mullett
    December 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm — Reply

    7500 km servicing – makes the vehicle too costly to own. If I was looking at an Hyundai and was told 7500 servicing was the norm, I’d walk straight out of the showroom.

  6. David
    January 27, 2014 at 5:37 pm — Reply

    Hi. Good write up. Long-term reviews are a lot rarer than regular ones, but more detailed and interesting to read. I too am thinking hard about getting this car (manual w/ sunroof), and I also have a 380 – ’06 model since new. Its a great car with no faults so far, but its getting on and I’m getting bored with it. Would you recommend the SR as a worthy replacement for the 380, or is it a noticeable step down? Any feedback would be appreciated.

    • January 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm — Reply

      Hello David, so far I like the SR but I wouldn’t say it was a natural replacement for the 380, not least because the 380 has a far bigger engine and much more interior room. I still love the 380 for its solidity, interior room, and the wonderful smooth and gutsy engine. The SR, though smaller, is very well equipped, drives well and the 2.0-litre engine is powerful enough, but it’s not a 380 rival by any means. If you want to downsize, then the SR is a decent choice, but if you want the same attributes the 380 has then I’d be looking at the latest Commodore. Having said that, I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of Hyundai’s new big car, the Genesis, which is due here mid-year. That could well be worth a look because it should combine Hyundai’s modern driveability with (almost) the size of the 380, and some decent fuel returns. Hope that helps, but let me know if you’ve any more questions.

      • David
        January 27, 2014 at 8:42 pm — Reply

        Hi. Thanks for the reply. Yeah sorry I didn’t stipulate here that I definately want to downsize to a small hatchback, so nothing as big as 380/Commodore/Falcon or even that Genesis (from what I hear of it). Was also considering the Veloster turbo but think the SR is more practical/economical and simply better looking. I’ll keep an eye for your future exploits on the SR.

        • Tony Bosworth
          January 27, 2014 at 9:59 pm — Reply

          Okay, the SR then is definitely worth a look. It is certainly well equipped and it has a real quality feel to it, almost as good as a VW, though as I’ve said in an early report, I’m not totally convinced by the leather/leatherette seat material, but we’ll see how that stands up to long-term use. It will also be interesting to see if anything goes wrong, though so far the SR is travelling along fine, the bitey clutch aside.

  7. Dave
    March 10, 2014 at 12:07 am — Reply

    I took my i30 SR in for its 1 month inspection last week, and there was no mention of any need for a 7500km service by the dealer. They said 15000km or 12 months from the sale date. So I doubt anyone needs to be worried about this aspect of the warranty.

    • Tony Bosworth
      March 10, 2014 at 8:23 am — Reply

      Hello Dave, good to hear from you. If you have a look in your service booklet you’ll see the 15,000 services on one side and the 7500km services on the other. As mentioned in the piece, Hyundai clearly say the 7500km service needs to be carried out if the SR is being driven in certain conditions (some of which I outline in the story). While we like to think no dealer will exploit owners who may have any warranty issues and who have not had the 7500km services, it’s clear that there is the potential for wriggle room there, which we don’t like. If there is no need for a 7500km service, why do they have them in the service booklet?

      • Dave
        March 12, 2014 at 9:58 am — Reply

        Hi Tony. My original message could have been worded better. I’m aware of the optional intermediate services and I don’t doubt the need for them. I was just contrasting my dealer experience with yours, i.e. my dealer’s service department didn’t feel it necessary to mention the intermediate service when explaining when my next service was due. Of course there could be all kinds of reasons for that, e.g. that I live in Melbourne which is cooler on average.

        Even though your 380 service book doesn’t mention intermediate services, I know that at least some other makes and models do. It would be interesting to compare this aspect of the servicing/warranty with other similar sized cars in the same price range of the i30. Need to make sure that Hyundai isn’t being singled out for something that might be wider spread in the industry.

  8. Tony Bosworth
    March 12, 2014 at 11:30 am — Reply

    Hello Dave, yes, it’s interesting how different Hyundai dealers appear to handle this. Of course, it would be good if there was a consistent message from dealers…Clearly Hyundai is under the spotlight here because we’re running the SR as a long-termer, but we will look at the servicing requirements of other comparable cars and put an article together on that because you’re right, it would be interesting to compare like with like. Do let us know your experiences too, if you would, as you continue with your SR – it’s always good to get reader feedback too so we can all build a picture of this car’s abilities and reliability.

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