Drive – Hyundai i30 Elite Review

17 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Hyundai i30 Elite Review

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Pros

Plenty of gear

Functional and quality-feeling interior

Engine relatively frugal

Five-year warranty

Cons

Engine lacks low-rev torque

Dull steering

Lacks engagement of some rivals

There’s no shortage of variety in a Hyundai showroom these days. The increasingly popular brand has been on a growth spurt in recent years, adding new nameplates in what is at times a confusing array.

But the i30 small car has established itself as a worthy value proposition in the small-car segment since arriving on the scene in 2007. The i30 hatch is big business for Hyundai – it’s the brand’s most popular model. Add in the Elantra, which is really an i30 sedan, and the pair would be the top sellers in Australia.

The i30 take two is a more serious proposition, though, with more elegant styling and a revised model range that includes a new petrol engine.

Price and equipment

Hyundai was always happy to tempt would-be i30 buyers with some sharp deals but the latest model focuses more on features than the bottom line. It’s also more expensive than the equivalent Elantra sedan, albeit with additional equipment, such as rear parking sensors and a driver’s knee airbag.

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The i30 line-up kicks off with the Active, priced from $20,990 plus on-road costs, which includes the five-year warranty that adds another two years’ peace of mind over most warranties. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, cruise control, touchscreen, buttons on the steering wheel, and the safety of stability control and seven airbags (dual front, front-side, side-curtain and driver’s knee).

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The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, with a six-speed auto adding $2000.

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The Elite tested here brings more for its $24,590 price tag: satellite navigation on a larger screen, reversing camera, alloy wheels, rear centre armrest, one-touch electric windows, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and more upmarket-looking trim, including metal-look finishes. There’s also a full-size spare instead of the space saver in the Active and some neat touches such as puddle lights in the folding exterior mirrors. A proximity key allows you to keep the key in your pocket and press a button on one of the front door handles to unlock the car.

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There’s also a Premium model (from $29,990 including an automatic transmission) with things such as a button-operated park brake, sunroof, larger (17-inch) alloy wheels, heated seats, leather trim as well as an auto-dimming interior mirror.

Under the bonnet

There’s a new-generation engine in the i30, with capacity dropping from 2.0 litres to 1.8. In the process, power has crept up close to 5 per cent to a class-average 110kW.

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It’s sparky enough off the line and revs cleanly, representing a significant improvement. Whereas the old 2.0-litre engine was buzzy at higher revs, the new one stretches towards its electronic cutout with more sophistication, albeit in a basic way.

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Crucially, though, torque – the thing that gives effortless low-rev response – has gone in the wrong direction. The 178Nm peak is 8Nm down on the outgoing engine and produced at a high-ish 4700rpm.

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Despite some weight savings to the 1.3-tonne body, the i30 feels undernourished at low and middle engine revs. Throw a hill into the equation and you’ll be dropping down a gear or two.

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The six-speed manual doesn’t have the precise feel of some, but it’s user-friendly enough. The auto that most will choose does a decent job of picking the right ratio in a no-fuss fashion. It seems much of the effort with this new engine has gone into fuel use, though, with the claimed consumption down to 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres as a manual or 6.9L/100km as an auto.

In the manual we managed 8.5L/100km in a mix of driving, predominantly suburban.

How it drives

While it’s exceptional on the value front, the i30 is only middle of the road for how it handles. While it’s comfortable, quiet and well behaved in town, it doesn’t have the agility and fun factor some in the class can offer (the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf spring to mind).

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All i30s come with an adjustable Flex Steer system that varies the weighting of the steering between three settings, Comfort (light), Normal and Sport (more weight). Really, though, there’s not a meaningful difference between the three and steering feel is disappointingly lacking across the trio. Push a bit harder and the i30’s dynamic limits also become more marked; grip from the Hankook tyres could only be rated as OK, while the body doesn’t relish mid-corner imperfections.

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Refinement is where the i30 has taken huge leaps, though, with a noticeably quieter cabin making for more relaxed cruising.

Comfort and practicality

There’s a familiar Hyundai feel to the i30’s interior, something cemented by the blue illumination of the main controls and displays. The dash itself is well laid out, with the colour touchscreen positioned on the top and simple ventilation controls beneath.

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It’s a bit of a reach to the volume knob but the buttons on the steering wheel make the task easier. Not all is ideal with the touchscreen, though: on some screens the digital clock is, oddly, not displayed, meaning you have to push a button to display the time.

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The screen also dims independently of the rest of the displays and on its lowest setting is still too bright for dark streets or country roads. Another gripe is the scratchy plastics around the cheap-feeling handbrake. It makes up points elsewhere, though.

The three rear-seatbelt displays make it easy to keep an eye on those in the back, while the trip computer between the two prominent circular speedo and tacho housings is classy.

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Storage up front is generous thanks to a deep centre console and uncovered compartments forward of the gear selector. Each door also has a sizeable segmented pocket.

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At 378 litres, the boot is OK without being substantial, although a simple split-fold system makes room for bulky items.

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Similarly, rear-seat space is respectable without being considered spectacular.

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