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.
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.
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.
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.
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.