The skinny: It can't quite nail down top-spot, but Hyundai's aggressive dealer discounting of the i30 has seen it push the Corolla and Mazda3 aside more than once this year.
And the winner in this battle of the small car titans is you. The i30, certainly, has enough of what it takes to remain a strong seller in the Australian market.
Squaring off against the excellent Mazda3 and perennially popular Corolla is no easy task, but with handsome styling, value-balanced equipment levels, and an easy driving nature, the i30 is an agreeable package.
Vehicle Style: Small hatch
Price: $24,390 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 107kW/175Nm 1.8 4cyl petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.3 l/100km | tested: 10.1 l/100km
In Series II form, the Hyundai i30 picked up a little cosmetic surgery to better align it with the larger Sonata and i40 ranges. The grille is now more angular, but the rest of the package stays the same, and still looks fresh.
The Active X model, at just $1100 more than the base-grade Active, also throws in some decent upgrades, including leather trim and alloy wheels, plus a few interior appearance upgrades, for a modest few dollars more.
The powertrain is best described as ‘tried and true’ with a 1.8 litre engine tied to a six speed manual, or the six-speed auto tested here.
So is the i30 worthy of your attention? We spent a week behind the wheel - driving to work, to the supermarket, to cricket training, to the movies, just like you might - to find out.
- Standard equipment: Leather trimmed seats, cruise control, heated mirrors with electric folding, power windows, remote central locking, alarm, multi-function steering wheel, manual air conditioning
- Infotainment: 5.0-inch touchscreen, media ripping storage, iPod compatibility, USB/Aux input, MP3/AM/FM, six speaker audio
- Cargo volume: 378 litres (seat up) 1316 (seats folded)
While the i30 isn’t the 'latest thing' in the small car market, it still looks contemporary and is perfectly functional.
There’s a few extra silver trim-highlights in the Active X, and the leather appointed seats lift the tone. Instrumentation is clear and simple too.
Although fairly flat, the front seats will fit all sizes, and on a long haul they offer enough comfort for long distances at the wheel and still emerge fresh.
Rear accommodation is decent too, with a pair of average adults able to ride in the rear without any cause for complaint.
Without being over-stuffed with premium finishes, the i30 is solid and simple to decipher. Some might miss a CD player, but the ability to rip tracks, or stream Pandora via a smartphone should make up for that.
Boot space is a useful 378 litres, plenty bigger than Corolla hatch, as well as edging out the five-door Mazda3. Dropping the rear seats for a flat-floor is a two-stage process: flip the base then fold the backrest, but offers a proper flat floor as a result.
Elsewhere in the cabin there’s useful space in the glovebox, console and door pockets, and the open shelf at the base of the centre stack is one of the few large enough to hold a full-size smartphone.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 107kW/175Nm 1.8 litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc, 280mm ventilated front rotor, 262mm solid rear rotors
- Steering type: Electric power steering, turning circle: 10.6m
There’s been a wee under-the-skin change to the i30’s 1.8 litre engine, but from behind the wheel you’ll never tell. Fuel consumption steps up a fraction, 0.2 l/100km more than before, in the quest for better emissions performance.
Engine stats, with 107kW at 6500rpm and 175Nm at 4700rpm, drop by 3kW and 3Nm compared to Series I, but - again - from behind the wheel you’d be hard-pressed to notice.
In and around city and suburbs the i30 has no trouble running with the traffic; the engine isn’t a quick revver, but can build a decent head of steam if you lean on it.
Out of town you’ll need to pick your overtaking moments, as there’s not a lot of torque in reserve to power past slower vehicles.
The six-speed automatic is a conventional hydraulic unit and offers better low-speed manoeuvrability than most dual-clutch systems can muster. If your commute is a crawler, or your parking space is a tight one, you’ll appreciate this.
Gear changes are smooth, but not lightning fast. In general commuting, the automatic works well and escapes the kind of droning the CVT-equipped Corolla sometimes delivers.
Ride comfort is set up to conquer speed humps and jagged surfaces well, and the around-town ride really hits the mark.
Hyundai Australia has developed a unique suspension tune for Australia, and the way the i30 shrugs off some notoriously choppy roads is testament to that.
Add a couple of adults to the rear and the i30 quickly settles down on its suspension and firms up noticeably, something to keep in mind if you intend to run it as a passenger shuttle.
Steering can be adjusted via the three-mode Flex Steer system, with a super assisted Comfort mode, regular Normal mode, and a heavier feeling Sport setting. In all fairness Normal felt the most natural, but Sport’s not a bad way to go on a flowing road too.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - the Hyundai i30 scored 35.69 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Seven airbags (dual front, dual front side, full length curtain, driver’s knee) front load limiting seatbelt pretensioners, 2x rear ISOfix and 3x top-tether child seat mounting points, traction and stability control, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, rear park sensors and rear view camera.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Australia’s bustling small car sector includes traditional favourites like the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, and the ageing but good value Mitsubishi Lancer.
Despite being developed from the same gene pool, Kia’s Cerato can’t seem to gain traction against i30, while the relaunched Ford Focus and Subaru Impreza are similarly under-represented in the sales charts.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a few extra niceties included in the package, the i30 Active X feels a lot less ‘fleet special’ than the base i30 Active.
Even at the entry level, the i30 is decent buying, with honest appeal. It has no trouble dealing with Aussie roads, offers plenty of comfort, a spacious interior and a good-sized boot.
Others, like the Mazda3 or Focus may have a little more flair, but, for the day-to-day grind, Hyundai's i30 Active X is a highly liveable commuter, and proven to be a durable and strong little hatch.
Miles more modern than Mitsubishi’s Lancer, and decent value in the face of Mazda3 Maxx or Ford Focus Trend, neither of which scores leather trim, the i30 Active X offers just the right amount of X-factor.
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