- A much more sophisticated i30
- Big dynamic improvements
- Strong value in SR model
- Non-SRs miss independent rear
- Bit thirstier than the competition
- No AEB on base car yet
When you make a car that is, in many months, Australia’s best-selling model, getting an all-new generation right is critical. That’s true of the 2017 Hyundai i30 – and in launching the hotly-anticipated hatchback into the Australian market this week, the South Korean brand pushed that in moving from the well-liked GD to the new PD generation, improvements in five key areas have been targeted. These are design, dynamics, safety, comfort and value – but out on the road, the new i30 adds up to quite a bit more than the sum of those worthy upgrades. By a considerable margin, the 2017 i30 is the most sophisticated small car ever to come out of Korea, and a real improvement on the car it replaces.
However, the new car needs to be sophisticated. In a bold move, Hyundai say they’re abandoning the $19,990 driveaway price for the i30 in Australia, with the base model now, effectively, a few thousand dollars dearer on the road. However, the Active base model is now one of the most full-featured variants in its class, with standard big-screen navigation and attractive alloy wheels making it appear more mid-range than entry-level.
While the i30 range isn’t arranged as clearly as it could be – the base model leads to a split lineup with a pair of sporty SR models, and opposite, a pair of comfort-oriented diesel variants – the new i30 arrives with plenty of choice for buyers with five models stretching from a $20,950 two-litre base manual, to two $33,950 range-toppers: one a diesel, the other turbo petrol.
Later, Hyundai will branch out into proper performance territory with an i30 N variant to arrive in Australia later this year, promising power somewhere north of 200kW. And the N will truly be something to look forward to, because the combination of Hyundai’s global design efforts and the brand’s formidable Australian-specific engineering tuning shop have created a hatchback that is dynamically sorted, with decent engines, pleasant steering, and an impressive ride quality in both the sporty SR models, which gain independent rear suspension, and the rest of the range, which retains an old-school, cost-effective torsion bar rear.
Chasing Cars drove the 2017 Hyundai i30 in each engine guise at the car’s Australian media launch in northern Victoria.
The i30 arrives with a refreshed but familiar engine lineup. At launch, there are three motors. The basic engine, which is only available in the base model Active, is a two-litre aspirated petrol making 120kW and 203Nm – this engine used to sit in the previous-generation i30 SR. Despite a propensity to get a thrashy high in the rev range, the 2.0-litre is a highly competent base model engine that, for most people most of the time, provides more than sufficient power. It’s a very solid match to the six-speed automatic that’s a $2,300 option on the base model.
From there, the engines get more interesting: for the same money, buyers can step in either a sporty or an economical direction.
Those interested in really driving their i30 should consider either the SR or SR Premium models, which pick up the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol that we liked in the Elantra SR sedan. With 150kW of power and 265Nm on tap, it’s a robust and capable setup – never fast but always quick. Given what you get included, the SR manual ($25,950) is a bargain and the slick six-speed box is an ideal match to the turbo four, with easy shifts and a decent dollop of torque available from low in the rev range. There’s also a convincing seven-speed dual clutch automatic which is about on a par with Volkswagen’s latest DSGs.
The other option is a diesel which carries over entirely from the previous generation. The 1.6-litre oiler makes 100kW of power, and either 280Nm in manual guise – you can only get that in the base model – or 300Nm with the seven-speed DCT. The diesel is a substantial $5,000 upgrade on the base model over the two-litre petrol – too steep to be justifiable to us – but the diesel is standard on the $28,950 Elite and $33,950 Premium. It’s suited to those comfort-oriented touring models, where the diesel’s big, lazy torque and DCT combine for an effortless and surprisingly refined driving experience.
Go for an automatic gearbox – either the conventional auto with the 2.0-litre or the double-clutch – and the i30 packs adjustable drive modes, which alter throttle response, gear shift points and steering weight. That’s all very well and good, except that the steering weight only feels natural in Sport but this prevents the automatic from seamlessly entering top gear on the highway.
That’s contrasted to the SR manual, which despite lacking adjustable steering has a beautifully-weighted tiller and the most engaging driving dynamics of the lot, by some margin.
We were a little concerned about the fact that the i30 range now has two, very different rear suspension setups. The SR models have a first-world, independent rear setup. It feels truly modern and very adjustable, soaking up traditional Australian road imperfections while allowing for very sporty cornering. However, the torsion bar on the other models isn’t too bad: Hyundai’s Australian engineers have maxed-out the perfect balance and unless you’re driving the i30 very hard, it’s hard to notice a difference. Interestingly, the Australian i30 tune has nearly 20% thicker rear springs than the global car – aiding compliance tremendously across the entire range.
Also Australian is the stability control programme – early Korean builds of the car demonstrated a far-too-invasive traction light, with abrupt cutting of the vehicle’s power at the first sign of slip. Hyundai’s Australian engineers, lead by the ebullient Hee Loong Wong – aka Wongy – successfully campaigned for a less invasive, progressive stability control that works wonders in hard driving in the Australian countryside.
The i30 debuts Hyundai’s newly-branded SmartSense suite of advanced safety technologies, though their availability through the range is a bit patchy.
The base model gets none of it – not even AEB – until an option pack, which will be about $1,500, arrives later in 2017. Automatic SR, Elite and Premium models get the whole lot, which includes AEB that works fast – up to 180km/h – forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, active cruise control, and driver attention alert. The manual SR, oddly, makes do with a curtailed suite, featuring just blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Manuals can’t be fitted with the ‘Fusion’ system that makes the full suite work, Hyundai’s product planners told us.
Further on the safety front, ANCAP awarded the new i30 five stars based on the result of the related Elantra sedan. There are seven airbags and a rear view camera on all grades.
Hyundai sat down with a substantial number of focus groups as they were readying the Australian specs for the new i30 – and real buyers told them that what really mattered was a quality screen for the navigation.
Hence, the new i30 stands out in the small car segment by offering the same infotainment across the range, based around a crisp, very responsive 8-inch touchscreen. All grades get satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Whether you’re in an Active or a SR Premium, there are few technological differences in the cabin. Call it democratisation.
The central screen is tablet-style, a bit tacked-on in appearance but it works well. Appropriate shortcut buttons straddle the screen and the inclusion of a real volume knob stands in contrast to cars that try to be too clever inside, like Honda’s Civic.
There’s a small difference in the screen that sits ahead of the driver: the Active’s is slightly simplified while the other models get a crisper TFT screen, but they can all display turn-by-turn satellite navigation directions and also now tell you what song you’re listening to. A nice improvement.
Seat comfort is good: even the Active’s cloth seats feel nice and supportive this time around. The leather buckets in the Elite and Premium could use more bolstering oomph – like the SR and SR Premium get in their awesome sports bucket seats with extended bolstering. While the driving position felt awkward at first in the SR manual – with its manual adjustment, sans-backrest roller – we quickly settled in for a vigorous 200 kilometre drive with no aches.
To be on the safe side, though, try to splash out on an i30 with electric seat adjustment – this lets you get really comfortable. Steering wheels? They feel nice in the hand, with the exception of the Active, which battles on with a plastic wheel; the leather wheel of the SR, by contrast, is perforated, looking and feeling classy. Sadly, the Elantra SR’s AMG-esque tacho and speedometer readouts are not present here; the generic Hyundai font is back.
Little things make the interior of the SR so much better than the base car for relatively slim extra outlay. Despite the great seats and steering wheel, an adjustable armrest between the driver and front passenger, pops of red including red seat belts and aluminium pedals really lift the cabin of the SR. Likewise, the Elite and Premium’s optional beige leather package looks elegant. The Premium and SR Premium pack a big panoramic sunroof as standard.
It’s respectable in the back, too – six foot passengers have enough headroom, even with the sunroof overhead, and legroom and toe room is okay, too. Getting three across will be possible at a pinch. The inclusion of air vents is a big plus, but you can’t get them on manuals (or on the base model). The manual’s old-school pull handbrake sits where the air vent motors should. This isn’t a problem on electric parking brake autos.
Marginally larger than the old car, the new i30 has made some meaningful gains in practicality. That starts around at the boot, which picks up another 17 litres, now packing 395 litres of space, which is a bit bigger than you’ll get in a Volkswagen Golf hatch. However, there’s more to the i30’s boot than meets the eye. The new model now has an adjustable false floor, as long as it’s not the base model we’re talking about. That means you can lower the floor to eke out all 395 litres, or sacrifice a few, raising the floor and getting a totally seamless load lip. That means heavy things are much easier to slide in, with no need to lift stuff up and out of the cavity.
Plus, when the boot floor is raised up like that, the rear seats now fold completely flat, which means that the i30 can do a good double-act as a load lugger with no step between the boot floor and back seats if you need to transport long, bulky, heavy and awkward things from the furniture store to your apartment. There’s also a pair of shopping bag hooks in the i30’s boot, which is convenient for the milk or eggs.
It’s a practical cabin, too. Up front, a pair of decent-sized cupholders will take a large coffee and the door bins are huge, swallowing a number of big water bottles – but those bins are unlined, while a Golf lines them in felt to stop stuff from rattling around. And stuff does rattle without lining – along Victorian country roads I could hear stuff bouncing around down there.
The central armrest is an okay size, and there’s a convenient rubberised tray ahead of the gear shifter which is a good place to keep your phone. Most models have Qi-standard wireless charging down there, too, which only works with a few Android phones but Hyundai are working on a compatible iPhone case. There’s a USB port in the tray, too.
In the back, a fold-down armrest hides another pair of cupholders. Plus, the back windows are nice and big, providing a good view out.
RELIABILITY & RUNNING COSTS
Confidence in ownership has been a strong Hyundai value for some time. The fact that the cars are backed by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and there’s a lifetime capped price servicing programme are both things that we like, and even the new i30’s depreciation appears to be highly class competitive on early indications.
Servicing the 2017 i30
Even though there’s a bit of variation between the engines, the i30 is in general an inexpensive car to service. Over three years, the base two-litre petrol will set you back $777 in servicing and only needs to go into the workshop once a year. The 1.6-litre diesel costs $897 over the same three years, and likewise, only needs an annual service.
It’s annoying that the best engine – the 1.6-litre turbo – is quite a bit more expensive and less convenient to service. Over three years, it’ll set you back $1,116 in servicing costs and given you have to take it in every 10,000 kilometres – not 15,000 kilometres like the other motors – you’ll effectively be there every nine months.
Fuelling the new i30
The petrol engines available on the new i30 aren’t exactly new – they’re good, but they aren’t that modern and that’s plain to see from the fuel economy figures, which are heftier than you’ll find in a similarly-priced Volkswagen Golf. However, to their credit, on launch all of the i30s returned close to their claim, which isn’t as common as you might think.
The two-litre aspirated petrol will return 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle. The turbo petrol provides more thrills for little more outlay – it’ll do 7.5L/100km, Hyundai say. The diesel is a standout, getting below five for a result of 4.7L/100km.
The new i30’s depreciation
If you keep a new i30 SR DCT ($28,950) for three years and 40,000 kilometres, Glass’s Guide data indicates that it should retain about 59.1% of its value, returning you about $17,100. This is a better figure than the similarly-priced Volkswagen Golf Comfortline ($28,340), which Glass’s predicts will return only about 55.7% of its value after the same time.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Given realistic, driveaway prices are up, we’re glad to see that value improves commensurately on the new i30.
The Active base model ($20,950 petrol manual, $23,250 petrol automatic, $23,450 diesel manual, $25,950 diesel DCT) is well kitted out, featuring automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors and a rear view camera, 16-inch alloy wheels with tyre pressure monitoring, the 8-inch navigation screen with CarPlay and Android Auto, and hill start assist.
From there, it’s a choice to head up either the Sport or Comfort model tree.
On the Comfort side, the Elite ($28,950 diesel DCT) adds the SmartSense safety technologies, 17-inch alloys, leather trim, a 4.2-inch driver’s display, dual zone climate control, an electronic parking brake, false boot floor, keyless entry and start, and Qi wireless phone charging.
The Comfort flagship, the Premium ($33,950 diesel DCT) further adds front parking sensors, LED headlights and LED front indicators, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, and an electro-chromatic rear mirror.
But it’s the ‘Sports’ focussed SR models that provide the best value, packing the benefits of the Elite or Premium with even more kit inside, a better engine and the more sophisticated independent rear suspension – but for the same price as either the Elite or Premium!
The SR model ($25,950 turbo manual, $28,950 turbo DCT) adds, over the Active base model, the SmartSense safety technologies (though not entirely for the manual – see the Drive section above), dual exhaust tips, 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, alloy pedals, black headlining, red trim inside, leather sports seats, a 4.2-inch driver’s display, and dual zone climate control.
The range flagship is the SR Premium ($33,950 turbo DCT) which, like the Premium, gets front parking sensors, LED headlights and LED front indicators, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, with power adjustment for the driver.
Key options are limited. Metallic paint is $495 on all grades; the up-spec beige interior is $295 on the Elite and Premium, while you can have the panoramic roof for $2,000 on the Elite or SR. It’s standard on the two Premium variants.
Arguably, it’s the $25,950 SR manual which is the sweet spot of the range – it’s frustrating that it misses key safety technologies like active cruise control and even AEB, but the amount of kit and performance on offer for sub-$26,000 is admirable.
The small hatch segment is a busy one, but to keep your test drives focussed, here are four models that require consideration alongside a new i30.
Ford Focus (from $23,390)
Like the new Golf, the Focus is missing a base model, hence the inflated price. A driver’s car of this segment, the Focus also packs solid interior infotainment but the looks are getting on.
Holden Astra (from $21,490)
Fun to drive, full-featured (from the second-tier R+ upwards) and good-looking, even as a base model, Holden’s new Astra is a return to European flair as local production ends.
Mazda 3 (from $20,490)
Mazda’s 3 range is pretty enormous, with six trims, two body styles and two engines meaning there’s something for everyone. Refinement is a bit rougher, but fun driving dynamics and a solid cabin make the Mazda a perennial favourite.
Volkswagen Golf 7.5 (from $23,990)
The incoming Golf update is unashamedly marketed as the premium small car, and the interior and dynamics still lead the i30, though the margin between the two cars is smaller than ever before. Test-driving both is a good idea.
|Power||150kW at 6,000rpm|
|Torque||265Nm between 1,500-4,500rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||112kW / tonne|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||7.5L/100km|
|Fuel capacity||50 litres|
|Average range||666 kilometres|
Transmission and Drivetrain
|Drivetrain||Front wheel drive|
Dimensions and Weights
|Unoccupied weight||1,344 kilograms|
|Cargo space (seats up)||395 litres|
|Cargo space (seats down)||1,301 litres|