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Daniel DeGasperi | Jul, 07 2016 | 1 Comment

SALES OF THE HYUNDAI i30 HAVE EXPLODED THIS YEAR, WITH THIS SHARPLY-PRICED ENTRY MODEL ACTIVE LEADING THE CHARGE.

The small hatchback has become Australia’s favourite car for the first half of 2016.

The secret has been aggressive $19,990 driveaway pricing for the automatic version; one that normally retails at $23,290 plus on-road costs.

But that $19,990 deal has now finished; when the clock ticked past midnight on June 30, the price went up $3000. Now it’s $22,990 driveaway for the i30 Active automatic. So is it still worth a look?

Vehicle Style: Small car
Price: $23,290 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 107kW/175Nm 1.8-litre 4cyl petrol | six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.3 l/100km | Tested: 7.7 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

The current Hyundai i30 arrived on our shores in 2012, so it’s getting on a bit now.

However, Euro-influenced styling along with a sizeable and nicely finished interior keeps it within a shot-put’s throw of the best in the class.

The i30 Active we’re testing here offers nothing special in terms of standard equipment, but it includes affordable capped-price servicing along with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, bested only by Citroen and Kia with their six and seven-year coverage respectively.

Inexpensive, certainly, but for its recommended retail price we think alloy wheels should be included – as are standard on a Mazda3 Neo – rather than dowdy hubcaps.

Private buyers however can opt for the $1100-pricier i30 ActiveX model that adds alloys, plus electrically folding door mirrors, leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Standard equipment: Power windows and mirrors, multi-function trip computer, air-conditioning, cloth seats, cruise control, auto-off headlights, remote keyless entry
  • Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, AM/FM radio, CD player, Apple CarPlay connectivity and six speakers
  • Cargo volume: 378 litres seat up, 1316 litres seats folded

Hyundai got the cabin basics right four years ago with the i30. It highlights why it’s wise to put design effort in the first time around, because this South Korean hatchback still feels like a high-quality offering today.

Extremely comfortable front and rear seats are trimmed in nicely stitched cloth trim, for example. Indeed the standard cloth is actually preferable to the vinyl-like leather in the pricier ActiveX.

Door trims include cloth inserts both front and rear, and the soft-touch plastics meld seamlessly into the dashboard. Most small cars – including Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla – have a real mish-mash of plastics that can make them feel downmarket.

But the i30, even in this entry model, feels decently premium inside.

Fit and finish is superb, and storage space includes bottle holders and pockets in both front and rear doors, along with a voluminous glovebox and centre console bin.

The recent addition of Apple CarPlay connectivity, allowing an iPhone to be connected via USB with its apps mirrored on the 7.0-inch display, is a boon particularly in the i30 Active that lacks integrated satellite navigation.

It means drivers can display Apple Maps on-screen, although it does require a mobile internet connection to be used and you will need to keep an eye out for the data deal you have with your service provider.

Behind the front seats, rear passengers are given only average legroom and headroom for the class but – as we mentioned – seat comfort is well above the norm.

It’s a shame, however, that Hyundai reserves rear air-vents for its flagship i30 model grades in a warm climate such as Australia’s.

With a 378-litre boot volume, the Hyundai i30 also boasts among the largest cargo carrying capacities in its class, exceeding the Mazda3 and Corolla hatchbacks but missing the Volkswagen Golf by a scant three litres.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • Engine: 107kW/175Nm 1.8 litre four-cylinder petrol
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
  • Brakes: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes
  • Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering, turning circle 10.6m
  • Towing capacity: 500kg unbraked, 1372kg braked

The verdict on the way this Hyundai drives comes down to the driveaway deal you get – for $19,990 it’s very good, for the current $22,990 deal it’s average, but at the recommended retail price of $27,000 it falls below average.

Hyundai’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder is a sweet petrol engine. It can feel undernourished in terms of both power and refinement compared with the best in the segment, however it makes up for this with immediate response and a willingness to rev.

Around town, and on the highway, it has a nice zippy feel.

Part of the reason is the six-speed automatic which is superbly tuned to get the best out of an engine that lacks oomph down low and through the middle part of the rev range.

It intelligently selects lower gears to raise the needle on the tachometer even before the driver needs to think about adding extra throttle input – on hills, for example – and aids economy in the process (a decent 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres on test).

While the auto is especially useful for drivers who want a car that adapts seamlessly around them, the same can’t be said for the suspension tune of this i30 Active.

Despite riding on sensible 55-aspect 16-inch tyres that should typically aid the absorption of lumps and bumps around town, this Hyundai’s ride quality is less settled than expected of a small hatchback.

While the suspension has no trouble dealing with rough roads and large speed humps, and is generally well-controlled, it is less at home on smaller amplitude ripples, breaks and broken tarmac.

On some urban arterial roads – with bridge breaks, ridges and imperfections – the firm suspension compliance thuds and jolts a little, which can be felt in the cabin.

Hyundai’s Australian engineers have done some masterful work with the company’s newer Tucson, Elantra and Sonata, but it’s clear the i30 works off an older platform.

If the i30 Active provided sporty dynamics then the trade-off could be seen as acceptable, but its handling is merely average versus the segment benchmarks of Mazda3, Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf.

The steering too falls short of the better performers. While it offers a trio of weight-adjusting modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport – it only feels ‘tight’ in the latter mode, yet it’s too heavy for urban duties. Again, newer Hyundai models with a single steering setting do it better.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5-Stars – this model scored 35.69 out of 37 possible points

Safety features: Dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ABS and ESC, rear parking sensors, reverse-view camera

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

See below for the top picks of the class, from the Euro-stylish and refined 308 and Golf, to the trusted Corolla, dynamic Mazda3 and all-rounders, the Focus and Golf.

Each of these have strengths of their own, and two, the Peugeot 308 and Ford Focus are quite a bit better than their sales would recognise. Hard to make a bad choice here; you can make a decision of the heart and not go too far wrong.

Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen Golf

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

In many ways the Hyundai i30 Active doesn’t feel four years old. It still feels like a quality product, with a roomy and impeccably finished interior, although it could now use an update to its features and equipment.

The engine and transmission are a great match, although not as speedy nor refined as some in the segment.

As a total ownership package, with a strong warranty and affordable servicing, the i30 makes sense. It really comes down to the strength of the deal, however, because this Hyundai doesn’t feel quite premium enough to warrant Golf-like pricing.

The entry Active remains an honest performer, and it was certainly easy to see why it was so popular at $19,990 driveaway.

We’re not so sure about the ‘post-June 30’ pricing (but see how hard you can squeeze your dealer).

MORE: Hyundai News and Reviews
VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Hyundai i30 - Prices, Specifications, and Features

 
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