The Only Way Is Up was not merely a catchy 1980s pop tune, but it also happens to be the direction this newly introduced 2018 Hyundai i30 Go needs to ... erm, go.
Introduced last year, the third-generation i30 proved more impressive than ever before, but it also became more expensive and sales fell as a result. The $25K-plus, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder SR model grades deserved their higher tags, but the entry-level Active went from being $19,990 driveaway-with-auto in the runout phase of the previous-generation, to $23,250 plus on-road costs with an auto.
Moving from a 1.8- to 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder engine, and adding extra equipment wasn’t enough to tempt buyers upstream, so now Hyundai has now reversed that by deleting equipment and creating this $1K-cheaper i30 Go.
Simply put, then, Hyundai wants its sales figures to Go back up.
This i30 Go moves to $19,990 manual or $22,290 automatic (both plus orc) owing to deleted 16-inch alloy wheels (steel wheels and hubcaps are now standard), rear parking sensors, electric-fold door mirrors, satellite navigation and digital radio.
While the i30 Active still exists, it has been bumped by $140 ($21,090 man/$$23,390 auto plus orc) thanks to the single addition of a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
And both with both Go and Active automatics, a $1750 SmartSense Pack now adds forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assistance, active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, plus in-cabin additions such as colour driver display, rear air vents and an electric park brake, all for the first time.
Just now, however, South Korean rival Kia debuted its new Cerato S sedan from $19,990 man/$21,490 auto driveaway and with AEB standard. And Japanese rival, the Mazda3 Neo Sport, has stepped to $21,490 man/$23,490 auto (plus orc) but complete with alloys, AEB and digital radio. So, is it worth spending more on the Mazda, less on the (sedan-only) Kia, or is the middling i30 now good to Go?
THE INTERIOR | RATING: 3.5/5
Standard Equipment: Keyless entry, automatic on/off headlights, vanity mirror lights, rear map lights, cloth trim, power windows and mirrors, multi-function trip computer, cruise control and manual air-conditioning. Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, AM/FM radio, USB input, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring and six speakers. Options Fitted: None. Cargo Volume: 381 litres.
The third-gen i30 takes one giant leap forward for dashboard design, but a small step back for cabin materials. Its attractively sweeping design, broad and comfortable seating and high-resolution touchscreen all still make a fine first impression.
Despite the addition of some silver trim, however, the door covers are no longer cloaked with cloth inserts, and the all-grey plastics are not to the same standard of the previous-gen i30. At least there are more soft-touch surfaces and tactile controls than in the Cerato, though the admittedly pricier Mazda3 continues to lead here.
Indeed, especially with the reduced pricetag of this Go, the pleasant interior now feels circa-$20K worth, while the overall build quality remains a Hyundai highlight.
Ergonomically, everything is just easy, including a USB that connects effortlessly to Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring and helps offset the lack of sat-nav. The six-speaker audio sounds good, the touchscreen is crisp and lag-free, while auto on/off headlights, vanity mirror lights and back-seat lights are nice, little touches.
Speaking of which, the i30 delivers decent, if not expansive rear legroom, balanced out by an enormous amount of headroom.
The bench itself is comfortable, and at least rear air vents are optional (unlike Mazda3 or Cerato) and worth ticking for auto buyers who regularly have beyond a single passenger. The Hyundai gets soft-touch door plastics and twin seatback map pockets unlike the Kia, but it responds with a fold-down armrest absent here.
The Go also continues to get a full-size spare wheel underneath its rather capacious 381-litre boot, whereas its aforementioned duo of rivals only get an 80km/h-limited space-saver spare. So it all adds up to a really well-built and roomy effort that ticks the basics and occasionally goes just above average.
ON THE ROAD | RATING: 3.5/5
Engine: 120kW/203Nm 2.0 4cyl petrol Transmission: Six-speed automatic, FWD Suspension: MacPherson strut front and torsion bar rear Brake: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
While the pricier and sportier i30 SR has upgraded to a clever turbocharged engine and sophisticated multi-link independent rear suspension (IRS), the i30 Go (Active, Elite and Premium) keep it simple, sans turbo and with a torsion-beam back axle.
The upshot is the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine’s outputs (120kW of power at 6200rpm and 203Nm of torque at 4700rpm) are highly competitive for this end of the small car segment. Urban driveability is outstanding thanks to a clever six-speed automatic that plugs the petrol’s low-rev shortfalls with aplomb, and outright performance is at least as impressive as any rival for under $25K.
Another bonus is that this 2.0-litre’s quite a smooth and sweet-revving unit that easily ousts Cerato and Mazda3 for refinement. The downside is fuel usage – around town the trip computer displayed 12.0 litres per 100 kilometres, well up on the 7.4L/100km regular unleaded claim and only lowering to 8.9L/100km after a country-road run.
A similar trend appears on the road once beyond the realms of performance and economy. This i30’s steering is responsive and direct, for instance, but it’s spoiled slightly by needlessly firm weighting when winding on lock at low speeds. A Mazda3’s steering is ultimately lighter and sweeter overall.
Rolling on sensible 16-inch tyres, the Go also rides decently, especially at middling urban arterial speeds and over rough country roads where it maintains fine control. The downside is that suspension can turn clunky, both in terms of some impact abruptness and also aurally, with an odd hollow boom regularly delivered through the floor and into the cabin. It’s the second torsion-beam i30 to suffer such a poor trait.
At least this Hyundai is more dynamic than ever. Even if the IRS-equipped SR model grade is out of reach there is still basic fun to be had with a new chassis that feels more agile and eager than before. In fact, if anything the suspension is still a little too focused on control over comfort.
As with the interior, it all adds up to a competent effort, without stretching boundaries.
ANCAP rating: 5-stars – this model scored 35.01 out of 38 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2017.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ABS, ESC and reverse-view camera.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres.
Servicing: Capped-price servicing program includes annual or 15,000km intervals at a cost of $777 over three years or 45,000km.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
If you can live with a six-speed manual transmission (and trust us, it’s worth it) the Golf 110TSI is regularly on sale for $23,990 driveaway. And if it isn’t, bargain hard to that price because it’s far and away the best small car here.
Conversely, the Cerato S is average but extremely affordable and untouchable with its seven-year warranty – it connects the dots with complete pragmatism, if not panache.
The 3 Neo Sport now delivers a great mix of style (with alloys) and technology (with AEB and touchscreen) for an on-special price of $21,490 driveaway in manual at the time of writing. Compared with this i30 Go’s $20,990 driveaway manual offering at the time, we would splurge the extra on the better-equipped Mazda.
Kia Cerato S Mazda3 Neo Sport Volkswagen Golf 110TSI
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5
The arrival of the i30 Go is a direct response not only to falling Hyundai small car sales, but the aggression of new rivals. It does not feel cheap either to sit in or to drive, and with few exceptions it manages to trend just above average in most areas.
Equally, unless there’s a driveaway deal to be had, the $2200 extra cost for an automatic is steep, still springing this five-door hatchback to $22,290 plus on-road costs. And that’s for an entry model grade without AEB or alloy wheels. By comparison a Mazda3 Neo Sport gets both, plus a digital radio, for $1200 extra.
The Mazda is also the more impressive hatch inside and out, though not everyone can merely stump up for the extra cash, particularly when Hyundai offers a five- versus three-year warranty. Indeed, the only issues with this ergonomically excellent and deftly drivable i30 are with urban fuel usage and suspension sharpness and din.
It may not Go straight to the top of the class, then, but this latest and more affordable i30 certainly makes for a better entry to small car ownership.
- Interested in buying Hyundai i30? Visit our Hyundai i30 showroom for more information.