Hyundai’s i30 is popular by anyone’s standards.
It’s the biggest seller in Hyundai’s local line up, in 2016 generating almost 40% — about 38,000 units — of the company’s Australian sales, so it’s an important model for the company.
The new i30 line-up has been reshuffled, with some model names disappearing and some new ones being added. And there’s even a hot hatch in the pipeline.
While all variants are five-door hatches, the model line-up and features list is both comprehensive and complex, falling roughly into what Hyundai refers to as a ‘Y’ shaped range of sports or comfort models. There’s five different spec levels, three different engines, three transmission options and even two different rear suspension arrangements in the line-up.
The entry level Active comes with rear park assist, rear view camera, auto headlights, tyre pressure monitoring system, 16” alloys, 8” touch screen with navigation, Bluetooth, and cruise control. Safety kit includes seven airbags, ESC, stability control, and hill-start assist.
In addition, SR adds 18” alloys, LED taillights, alloy pedals, leather sports seats, black hood lining, metallic red trim inserts and red seat stitching and piping, dual zone climate control, electric park brake (DCT only), push button start and rear vents, while SR Premium includes front park assist, LED headlights, sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, and power driver’s seat.
The Sports models also get Hyundai’s SmartSense safety pack that includes Auto Emergency Braking, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keep Assist, and Smart Cruise for vehicles fitted with DCT. Blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert is also fitted.
For the comfort stream, in addition to the Active equipment, Elite gets the SmartSense safety pack, leather trim, dual zone climate control, electric park brake, remote window open /close, two height boot floor and push button start. Premium adds front park assist, LED headlights, sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, and power driver’s seat to the Elite equipment list.
There are new engine and transmission options. The new i30 is 40mm longer, 15 mm wider and 15 mm lower than the outgoing model and inside, every dimension except front head room has increased, while the chassis has been strengthened, lightened and made more rigid.
Safety features have been beefed up, and while entry level Active models don’t benefit from the full range yet, expect to see the SmartSense option pack become more widely available in the future.
Standard across all variants is an 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system that uses a tablet-style display panel mounted high in the centre of the dash. It features a host of connectivity features, including Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, as well as AUX and USB inputs with iPod compatibility. Smartphone connectivity — via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — lets users perform onscreen the tasks usually accessed via the handset. There’s also a wireless charging pad in higher spec models that allows users to charge a compatible Qi-enabled smartphone cable-free.
Reverse camera, DAB+ radio and navigation are now standard across the range. The nav system includes 10 years of map updates and Suner traffic information.
The 120kW 2.0-litre petrol engine used in the previous SR model becomes the standard engine in the new range. Compared to the 1.8-litre petrol engine it replaces, the new engine offers another kW and 28Nm while maintaining similar fuel consumption. The six-speed auto is a carryover from the outgoing model.
The 1.6-litre 100kW turbo diesel is rated at 280Nm for manual applications and 300Nm when mated to the dual clutch box.
The performance engine offering is the 150Kw 1.6-litre turbo petrol which delivers 26kW and 64Nm more that the outgoing model.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is 7.3 litres/100km (manual) and 7.4 (auto) for the 2.0-litre engine, 4.5 (manual) and 4.7 (DCT) for the diesel and 7.5 for the 1.6-litre petrol.
On the road
There are two standouts in the range. Those in the market for a sporty small car are unlikely to be disappointed with either of the SR models. Their handling is sharp, steering is precise and the 1.6-litre turbo engine is particularly smooth and flexible and a strong performer. The only slight criticism is that their ride is a bit firm, but those in the market for something sporty are unlikely to be put off by that.
Oddly, the other standout isn’t one of the more upmarket comfort models, but the base 2.0-litre Active. Though it can’t compete with SR in terms of outright handling, it is none-the-less very nicely balanced and provides a very agreeable compromise between ride quality, refinement, and handling.
While there’s no doubt that the multi-link rear suspension of the SR sets the handling benchmark for the range, the difference between it and the entry level model’s more basic torsion beam unit isn’t anywhere as great as might be expected. Hyundai’s local suspension tuning program has certainly paid dividends for the entire i30 range.
The 2.0-litre engine is willing and flexible, though it’s a bit noisier than either the diesel or the 1.6-litre petrol engine at high speeds.
The Elite model I drove (1.6-litre turbo diesel and 7-speed DCT) proved to be particularly quiet and refined though the handling wasn’t quite in the same league as the others, the focus clearly being more on ride quality and comfort than outright handing.