But the i30 was arguably the first model that really had all the necessary aces up its sleeve to be considered a worthy all-round package. It confirmed the brand’s maturity and has snatched a hat-trick of class wins in Australia’s Best Cars awards.
The five-door i30 hatch arrived in late 2007, with a wagon (the i30 cw) joining it early in 2009. Buyers could choose between the 2.0-litre petrol or 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engines.
There were three specification levels in petrol models – SX, SLX and the sportier SR (hatch) or Sportswagon (wagon), but only two in diesel form (SX, SLX). A 1.6-litre petrol SX base model swelled the ranks in May 2010.
Transmission choice was a five-speed manual or four-speed auto. However Sportswagon was auto only and early diesel hatches (pre Feb 2008) were manual only.
Stability control wasn’t standard on the SX hatch until October 2008, though other variants were equipped with it. All models have dual front airbags and ABS. It’s worth looking for models with side-front and curtain airbags too.
i30 isn’t quite the class benchmark for handling prowess. That said, it has a solid sure-footed feel, acceptably accurate steering and a generally comfy ride quality. Hyundai’s development work tuning suspension for Australian roads paid dividends.
Of the available engines, the turbo-diesel offers the more compelling argument with its strong tractable performance plus frugal fuel consumption. And unlike some competitors, an auto version can be had.
The i30’s interior is roomy for the car’s size, with the wagon offering additional practicality courtesy of its slightly higher, longer body. Good fit and finish and on many examples a balance of new car warranty adds appeal.
Check for scratched interior trims; they mark fairly easily. Notchy gear-shifting in manuals is likely to be cured by a revised gearbox oil type. Pay attention to auto operation – any sign of ‘slip’ could indicate a valve body problem that should be repaired under any remaining warranty.
Under the pump
i30’s official combined fuel consumption is between 5.4 - 10.3 litres and 7.6 litres (petrol models) and 4.1 - 7.9 litres (diesel models) every 100km, depending on model.
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Mazda3 2007 - 2011
A standout amongst the multitude in this competitive class. Well finished, impressive handling, ride and steering. Sedan and hatch versions. Petrol and diesel variants, diesel is manual only. Curtain and front side airbags standard on base model from May 2010.
Ford Focus 2007- 2011
Excellent handling and steering, decent performer with 2.0-litre petrol or torquey turbo-diesel. Oiler is six-speed manual only till late 2009 when dual-clutch style auto arrived. Hatch and sedan versions. Good interior space. Not as well finished as Mazda.
Toyota Corolla 2007 - 2011
Perennially popular model. Solid and competent if unexciting transport, with reliability a virtue. Choice of hatch or sedan. 1.8-litre petrol, no diesel option. No ESC pre-2009 and only standard on all models from early 2010.