- The significantly revised i-30 is now vying for best in class
- Clear distinction between entry, sports and comfort models
- Entry 2.0-litre petrol model is a standout, despite lacking advanced safety kit
Hyundai has unveiled the latest version of its popular small car, the i30. A raft of significant technical improvements brings it back into class leadership contention and there’s a sharp new look thanks to fresh design detail in the longer, wider and lower hatchback body.
Being slightly larger, this third generation now offers cabin space in line with its major competitors – Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and VW Golf. There’s significant advancement in body structure, now featuring 53 per cent high-strength steel, for enhanced quietness as well as safety, and notable advances in driver-focused dynamics. Hyundai has also taken the opportunity to include more smart multi-media connectivity, fitting the eight-inch tablet-style navigation screen, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard across the range.
From a model specification perspective, there’s a clear delineation between the two sporting models and two ‘comfort’ models, which sit above the entry-level Active version. In keeping with this line of thinking they have distinct driveline features designed to appeal to different buyers. Most sales, however, will however remain with the competitively priced base-model Active, which has stepped up significantly and is now arguably among the best value for money offerings in its class.
A competent package
Equipped with either the high-spec direct-injection two-litre petrol engine from the previous version, or a 1.6-litre diesel, it’s a surprisingly competent package on the road. There’s a choice of six-speed manual with either engine or a conventional six-speed auto with the petrol and a seven-speed DCT (dual clutch transmission) auto in the diesel, with pricing of the Active ranging from $20,950 to $25,950 plus on-road costs.
In terms of the best all-round package for most small car buyers, we found the two-litre petrol auto, from $23,250, the stand-out. It delivers an appealing blend of performance and engaging chassis dynamics, along with good ride compliance and seating comfort. While it comes with a seven-airbag safety package and a 5-star ANCAP rating, regrettably it is not available with the extended, camera-based safety features that are standard on all higher-spec autos. You also need to budget just over $3000 for its estimated on-road costs.
Cabin space in the single hatchback body shell is very good all round. Adults will find plenty of seat adjustment up front along with well-shaped and comfortable seat design, which also extends to the rear where good shoulder space was noted. There’s a lack of rear-seat ventilation ducts or accessory power outlets, but there’s plenty of versatility in the load space with split-fold seating, easy-to-access child seat mounting and the ability to carry a full-size spare wheel in all models. A full-size spare is standard, except in SR sports models where it is an option thanks to an adjustable boot floor.
Stepping up from the Active, buyers have the option of the Elite or Premium, the so-called ‘comfort’ models, which feature the 1.6-litre common rail direct-injection diesel engine, mated to the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Noteworthy are the overall quietness of the diesel along with its effortless flexibility and impressive 4.7L/100km government fuel consumption figure.
For sports-minded drivers the i30 also comes in SR and SR Premium models which employ a new 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo petrol engine and the choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT. SR models also feature an independent rear suspension, larger brakes and 18-inch wheels.
A spirited drive
This engine, which employs variable valve timing for its DOHC and 16-valve head, delivers 150kW and 265Nm, ensuring a spirited drive. All petrol models run on 91RON and the SR returns a government fuel figure of 7.5L/100km.
The suspension set-up on SR models is clearly firmer and there’s a more sudden tyre thump over poor surfaces, but at highway speed it sits flatter and delivers crisp cornering response without being harsh.
Interestingly there are different tyre sizes and even brands on each variant. Above the entry Active model, all auto variants include the advanced safety package as standard. This includes autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist, cross-traffic alert and driver fatigue warning.
Manufacturer’s list price: Active $20,950 to $25,950; SR $25,950 to $33,950; Elite $28,950 to $33,950
Options: Metallic/mica paint $495; Panoramic sun roof $2000
Warranty: 60 months / unlimited km
Engine (Active): 2.0-litre four / 16V / DOHC
Transmission / drive: 6-speed auto / front
Fuel consumption: GVG 7.4 L/100km
Co2 emissions: 173 g/km
Fuel: 91 RON
Fuel tank capacity: 50 litres
Standard safety (Active model): ESC and ABS, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven airbags (including full-length curtain and driver knee), hill-start assist, rear-view camera, ISOFIX child seat mounts.