Test: Hyundai i30
Feann Torr - 2/November/2007
got the nod from the bank manager and you've decided to see what's on
the small car market. There's more European-influenced designs than you
can shake a gear stick at, drive away deals, free petrol offers and all
sorts of the other enticements.
Make no mistake - small cars
are big business.
The big names are likely to find their way onto
your shortlist - Toyota
Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer, Holden Astra. All of
them are quality cars
with smooth looks and rich heritages.
what's this - The
Hyundai i30? It's got no heritage, I've never seen one before, and
there's nary a German engineer in sight. But you know what? It's a
strong showing from Hyundai and with a keen price, impressive features
and a new look inside and out, it'll make one of life's big
decisions even more difficult.
Not more than half a dozen years
ago informed buyers used to approach the Hyundai brand with caution.
"Korean cars are cheap for a
reason" people would say. But every year Hyundai cranks out better and
better cars. They look smoother, they drive better, and the new i30 is
exception to this trend.
the last few years Hyundai has been climbing the new car
and reliability ladder as it improves its design and manufacturing
processes. The Korean cars are always improving, and Hyundai has even
confirmed that its next generation Tiburon sports coupe will be a
proper sports car, with rear-wheel drive!
But that's besides the point really. We're here to
find out what the Hyundai i30 is all about, so let's take a look:
Model: i30 (SR)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Engine: 2.0-litre, Inline
Safety: 6 airbags (driver/front
passenger (x2), front side (x2) and curtain airbags
(x2)), ABS, ESP
Supplier: Hyundai Australia
i30 is hoping to shake up the
small car market with its dynamic design
Sitting on 17-inch wheels with wide tyres,
Hyundai i30 SR model has good cornering grip
Hyundai Beta 2.0-litre 4-cylinder
The transversely mounted 1975cc inline
features aluminium alloy cylinder heads. Dual
(DOHC) actuate a total of 16-valves (4-valves per cylinder) that
variable valve timing. The engine has an 10:1
compression ratio and will tolerate all petrol grades from 91
RON upwards when filling
its 53 litre fuel tank.
105kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 186Nm @ 4600rpm
2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine is remarkably
flexible, delivering good acceleration while
still remaining frugal, drinking 7.2L/100km
i30 is one of the Korean company's
best looking vehicles to date - a classy design
interior presents very well, is functional,
and features some clever additions, like USB
One of the interesting things about a fashionable
car is that it makes you want to drive it. And the opposite can be
said for ugly cars too. Thankfully Hyundai has crafted what is
arguably its best looking small car to date, and it feels well built
when you ease yourself in, the doors shutting with a satisfying thud.
got all the safety and comfort features you'd expect of an
imported European car, with airbags, ESP, CD stereo, climate
control, USB jack and more, only without the $30k+ price tag. You can
read more about these features further down in the Interior
SR model Hyundai i30 we are testing here is the sporty
range-topper, the variant that got protein power a gym membership, yet
is powered by the same 2.0-litre petrol engine as the other cars in the
range. This bodes well for the entire i30 range because the driveline
is uniformly smooth.
Though the engine is no technological
trend-setter, it is smooth and flexible and I as inadvertently found
out it'll spin the front wheels without too much provocation. Our model
was fitted with a 5-speed manual which gives the car an
impressive turn of speed and the driver plenty of control.
I must say I stalled it a couple of times to begin
with, but this
is no reflection of the gearbox or the clutch, which are both
accomplished devices (I'd just dropped off a Holden V8 ute
very different clutch feel). Indeed, the gearbox is a very smooth
shifter - there's nary a notch to be felt as you guide the lever from
first through fifth gear, and it allows for quick shifts too.
105kW of power at six grand, and an eagerness to rev even higher and
without getting raspy, the 4-cylinder petrol engine is finally able to
match it's rivals head on. The Corolla, Focus, and it's other rivals no
longer have the refinement or poweradvantage they once had over
car's improved powertrain allows it to easily navigate its way through
the heaving peak hour crush, while the rear view mirror and the side
mirrors provide good levels of rearward vision. The seating position is
generally pretty good and combined with a tidy 4.24 metre length and a
1.77m width and short overhangs (not to mention responsive
steering),parking it is not at all scary.
Out on the highway
the Hyundai i30 will trundle along nicely, the engine speed sitting on
2600rpm in 5th gear at 100km/h, which is
handed the keys back to Hyundai with a final reading of 7.6L/100km,
after covering 396km. We didn't even use a full tank of fuel, and the
trip computer claimed we still had 180km of fuel left. Not bad that,
for a 53 litre tank.
The small car responds well to steering
input, with a precise steering feel that isn't too light. A
new cars these
days feel over assisted and the steering is much too light in my
opinion. This can lead to reduced steering feedback and
disconnects you from the road somewhat.
There's a bit of
weight and resistance to the steering which is
refreshing in a small car which provides for a more rewarding driving
experience when you find a good stretch of winding road. The heavier
steering can be attributed to the MDPS (Motor Driven Power Steering),
is different to traditional hydraulic power steering units, yet is
There's no vagueness in the steering feel that
used to be a
Hyundai hallmark, and there's also audio and cruise control buttons on
the steering wheel which are nice touches.
The Hyundai i30 SR is the model most
suited to enthusiastic driving because it's fitted with large
17-inch alloy wheels shod with wide 225/45 aspect ratio tyres. It
maintains good traction as a result of the tyres, and the
suspension system (MacPherson front struts and an independent
'Torsion Blade' multi-link rear) helps keeps body roll to a relative
minimum, allowing you to concentrate on tracking
did notice a bit of jounce when riding over mid-corner bumps and
potholes, but it's not terminal and is probably accentuated by the
light weight rather than its suspension. It'll understeer if pushed
hard, but has a fairly neutral feel through all but the tightest
On straight roads and during everyday driving the
ride is smooth for the most part too. I don't think it's chassis is
quite as accomplished as the Ford
Focus, but it's up there with the new Mitsubishi Lancer
for dynamics and can belt through corners relatively quickly when you
keep the engine singing above 5000rpm.
The anchors are fairly touchy but this is no bad
thing; touchy brakes are better than soggy ones. There's
good feel through the brake pedal when you need to mash it hard as the
fool in front of you decides to take a physically demanding phone call
in an 80km/h zone (I yelled and possibly swore at him to pull over and
he just grimaced at me - clearly I was overreacting to a potentially
Stopping power is considerable too, and this is
helped by a fairly low kerb weight of just over 1360kg, and nicely
sized disc brakes: 280mm fronts, 262mm rears.
I reckon that Hyundai's jazzy new i30 is a very cool customer, a clean
operating machine. There's a real sense of effortlessness about driving
it, but you don't feel detached either. The gear changes are light and
seamless, the steering is well weighted and reactive to road speed, and
with ample of poke from the engine the car motivates well.
nothing inherently wrong with the way the car drives and though it
doesn't have as much character as some of its rivals, it's a
improvement on Hyundais of yore.
power. Must be a Honda right?
a Hyundai actually, and an impressive piece of engineering. Nicknamed
the 'Beta' engine, it may not be the best motor in its class, but it's
very easy to live with. There's precious little harshness when the
engine revs out (which was surprising) and it's not too
noisy. Best of all it's got a good environmental
record, with low CO2 emissions and good fuel economy.
fuel-injected 4-cylinder engine provides the car with a good deal of
acceleration in the lower gears and only bogs down if you stuff up your
gear change, like when you miss a gear and hit 4th instead of
the spec sheet of a new car, in this instance 105kW and 186Nm, doesn't
mean much these days. Everyone's got variable valve this and twin cam
that, to the point where the real world test is the most authoritative
way to gauge a cars performance.
On the street the car feels
every bit a 105kW buzz box, getting its power to the front wheels via
the 5-speed manual very effectively. There's enough power there to
override the considerable tyre grip, but the ESP and traction control
systems regulate the power delivery so that the wheels rarely miss a
beat (though you can turn it off).
Hyundai claims the 2.0-litre
petrol engine in the i30 returns fuel economy of 7.2L/100km on the
combined city and highway cycle, and we recorded 7.6L/100km which is
still pretty good. This involved about 40 per cent highway driving, 20
per cent city driving and commuting, and the rest pedal-to-the-metal
driving along twisty roads to test the chassis.
All told, that's a very impressive fuel economy
When I picked up the Hyundai i30 SR I was somewhat
surprised with what I
saw: a stylish design with an overt European influence. Granted, we're
range-topping SR sports model complete with the big wheels and a
drop body kit to make it look even cooler, but that doesn't take
anything away from the car's overall shape.
from the slightly over-developed headlights (the extended trailing edge
irks me), the Hyundai i30 looks good in my opinion.
on the Saturday I picked up the car a random bloke driving a
Holden Crewman stuck his neck out the window to comment on the
car, which had me momentarily speechless. "Nice looking car mate. What
is it?" Err, thanks man. It's an i30, a new Hyundai.
thought he was mocking me, but catching a glimpse of the car reflected
in the windows of a Melbourne City department store showed that the i30
does in fact cut a sharp figure.
For mine the wheels go a long
way to sealing the deal - five spokers with subtle chrome
accents - but as mentioned the overall body shape is easy on the eye.
It's unashamedly European, with smooth flowing lines and nothing too
radical or try-hard to offend the eye.
From the side view
the window line kicks upwards towards the rear and this lends
car a sophisticated style, while the rear end has a passing resemblance
to a BMW 1 Series.
The front end has a modern look about it, with a
stylised grille and a good sized front air dam below that. There's
also fancy projector beams housed in the headlight clusters
either side of the grille. I'm no great fan about the extended
trailing edge of the headlight design that wraps around into the front
quarter panels, but in hindsight I think that without that little
'kick' the front end would too closely resemble a Toyota Corolla.
of the most impressive elements of the new Hyundai i30 is the interior.
It looks good, it feels good, it's functional and it's roomy. It has a
modern look and feel and I was initially incredulous: this
be a Korean car, can it?
Starting with the drivers view, the instrument
display shows two
large dials - speedo and tacho/rev meter - which are fairly plane Jane,
but very legible thanks to a bold font. At night they glow
giving the cabin a funky, almost futuristic ambiance. Between the two
main instrument dials is a rectangular LCD display that details trip
functions - fuel usage, average speed, distance to empty and so on.
front seats are fairly comfortable with a decent amount of cushioning,
but when you start throwing the i30 into corners the meagre
side-bolsters leave a little to be desired.
The leather wrapped
steering wheel is smaller than normal - a very good thing in my book as
it usually means there's less effort needed to make the
car turn -
and features useful cruise and audio controls (though the entry level
SX models miss out on steering wheel controls).
and interior plastics are rather impressive; the dash plastics are soft
touch with a thatched texture and little things like the unique
electric window buttons and dual USB and audio AUX
MP3 players and USB stick connectivity) provide for a nice
of difference from its small car rivals.
A curvy dash design like
the wings of a bird arching around the driver and front passenger
creates a nice sense of space up front, and the centre console is aglow
with twin cobalt LCD screens that detail the
the stereo systems respectively.
well, is relatively ergonomic, and an air conditioned glove box -
essentially a 'chully bun' to use the New Zealand vernacular - adds yet
more functionality to the car's cabin.
The rear seats are well
cushioned making longer journeys bearable for back seat passengers, and
leg room is not bad for a car of this size. A pair of adults or three
ankle biters will find ample room in the rear on short to medium
Standard features in all i30 models include things
dual front airbags, anti-whiplash front head restraints, pollen
filtered air conditioning, power windows, remote entry with alarm and
power steering. ESP is standard on our test model, the $26,490
SR, but will cost $1,790 and $990 for the base and mid-range SX and SLX
models respectively (which also adds curtain and front-side
airbags on the SX).
Our test car, the SR, adds things like an
well sorted 6-speaker stereo, alloy pedals, leather inserts on the
seats, ESP, six airbags, and of course the 17-inch wheels and
kit, which is an above average level of equipment for under $27,000.
The boot isn't bad either, with a very usable 340 litres of space that
expands to 1250 litres when you fold the rear seats down.
I really warmed to the i30's interior. The design is modern
not completely soulless, and it's clear that Hyundai has tried a few
different ideas with the interior design, such as a smart looking
centre console and vertically aligned air vents.
There's a big pile of cash in your bank
account, you're on the
hunt for a trendy Euro-style small car and there's a short
that includes name brands like Toyota,
Mazda, Ford and Mitsubishi. Do yourself a favour and add Hyundai to
that shortlist, because the i30 is a bona fide contender.
is the fastest growing mainstream car maker in the world and after
driving the i30 for a week it's not hard to see why. The vehicle is, at
the very least, competent in every respect and excels in some,
particularly the overall design and the new Beta 4-cylinder engine.
company was once the butt of many jokes but it's small car is now on
level pegging with the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, matching and
some cases beating its rivals in terms of standard equipment, engine
output, fuel efficiency, ride and handling.
The i30 is a remarkably savvy small car and quite
probably the Korean company's best vehicle to date.
shows that Hyundai hasn't been complacent. It's taken the bull by the
horns and made a red hot go of it. After in-depth research and
development the i30 was created and I have a sneaking suspicion it will
go very close to upsetting the status quo in the hugely
Australian small car market.
- ESP Not
Standard Across Range
- No Rain
the review? The Car? Your Car? Email