2017 Hyundai i30 range review - Top 10 Listverse Car Review UFO Alien
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2017 Hyundai i30 range review

The Hyundai i30 small hatchback is one of Australia’s highest-selling vehicles, making the brand-new third-generation version launched in April a highly significant car.

Put mildly, this Korean rival to the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 – chief among a plethora of small car offerings in the market – is a prime candidate for a full range review.

Here we take a look at the five specification levels, as well as the three engine offerings oriented respectively to cost, fuel economy or dynamic performance and response.

The first i30 launched in 2007 put Hyundai on the map as a serious player that could do more than merely out-price its rivals, while the second-generation model launched in 2012 was regular atop the sales charts.

But this new MY17 model, dubbed the PD series, is in most ways Hyundai’s most impressive effort yet, testament to its aggressive investments in research and development.

As with our recent range-wide review on the Mazda CX-5 (Australia’s biggest-selling SUV), this five-car test on the i30 is designed to explain and critique Hyundai’s product planning decisions around the car.

We are absolutely not suggesting that the i30 is the only small car you should look at. The Corolla, Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, Kia Cerato, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf are all compelling.

But should the Hyundai be the one that grabs you, which member of the range suits your needs and budget best? What’s the sweet spot, and where is the weak point? Read on…


2017 Hyundai i30 Active 

Pricing before on-road costs:

  • Active 120kW/203Nm petrol manual – $20,950
  • Active 120kW/203Nm petrol auto – $23,250
  • Active 100kW/280Nm diesel manual – $23,450
  • Active 100kW/300Nm diesel DCT auto – $25,950

Four definitive features:

  • 8.0-inch touchscreen with camera
  • Satellite-navigation with SUNA live traffic updates
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/DAB+
  • 16-inch alloy wheels with full-size spare wheel

Driving the i30 Active

This is the entry point to the 2017 Hyundai i30 range. The Active is not the $19,990 drive-away special that it’s predecessor became, but the small price hike gets you a car that is significantly better.

Its list of features leaves a Mazda 3 Neo (which lacks a touchscreen) and Toyota Corolla Ascent – its fellow top sellers – for dead. Alloy wheels, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and DAB+ are all welcome features. Fleet buyers will like the 2017 five-star ANCAP rating and the full-size spare wheel.

The interior is resolved, with a very good 8.0-inch tablet screen and sound system, a clear and concise layout, good rear-view camera, basic wheel controls for cruise and audio buttons, hardy cloth seats and excellent fit-and-finish. Only the crap urethane steering wheel cuts the ambience.

Rear seat space is moderate for the class given dimensions sit middle of the pack (compared to a much larger Honda Civic or Subaru Impreza) and the Active is the only i30 variant without rear air vents. Cargo space of 395 litres beats out its main rivals.

Under the bonnet of the expected volume-seller is a 120kW 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine that beats the (114kW) Mazda and (103kW) Toyota, while we pretty much matched Hyundai’s 7.4L/100km fuel economy claim on 91 RON.

It’s a willing engine that is at its happiest carrying revs, but is rarely harsh or raucous. Most sales will go to the six-speed auto, though buyers on a budget can save a few bucks and get the six-speed manual.

Country buyers and others doing 40,000km a year or more might consider the $2500 pricier 100kW/300Nm diesel with 40 per cent greater fuel economy. We will review that engine in the i30 Elite later. The Active is the only spec with two engine choice at launch.

The i30’s handling and steering is almost as nippy and sharp as the Mazda 3’s, while its suppression of road roar is noticeably better. It’s urban ride over sharp hits is on par with the underrated Corolla, while the Australian-tuned springs and dampers give better body control than the old-hat torsion bar at the rear suggests.

As with the rest of the Hyundai range, the i30 Active gets a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist neither matched or bettered by any rival other than its Kia Cerato first-cousin (the car which inherits Hyundai’s sub-$20k mantle now that the latter moves upmarket).

The first three annual services are a very affordable $259 a pop for the petrol and $299 for the diesel if you do fewer than 15,000km in 12 months (a base Corolla is $260 per year). Fleet buyers will do well to look at the Active, as will price-conscious user choosers and private shoppers.


2017 Hyundai i30 SR

Pricing before on-road costs:

  • SR 150kW/265Nm petrol manual – $25,950
  • SR150kW/265Nm petrol DCT auto – $28,950

Four definitive features:

  • Independent rear suspension, with Australian calibration
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Proximity key and push-button start
  • Red seat belts, black headlining and alloy pedals

Driving the i30 SR

The i30 SR’s 150kW/265Nm turbocharged engine beats all similarly-sized rivals at the price (the 147kW Holden Astra RS comes close). Ten years ago these numbers belonged to a proper hot hatch like a MkV Volkswagen Golf GTI.

For $5000 more than the base petrol i30 Active you not only get that turbocharged 1.6 engine, you also get 18-inch alloy wheels on grippier tyres (alas, the full-size spare is ditched for a space-saver), independent rear suspension and a different steering tune.

There’s a host of sporty touches in the cabin and outside the car (like red seatbelts and alloy pedals), leather seats and active safety tech such as blind-spot monitoring, and while the six-speed manual gearbox is the value leader, the Active six-speed auto option makes way for a seven-speed dual-clutch auto that gives faster shifts, and offers paddle-shifters.

The DCT auto commands a steep $3000 extra price because it alone adds Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), forward collision alert, lane assist, adaptive cruise control and rear vents. Hyundai globally doesn’t offer this tech with the manual, disappointingly.

The engine is retuned over the Veloster SR and, while it lacks aural appeal, is crisp and punchy, with a strong bottom end. Our tester’s six-speed manual ‘box had a nice mechanical action and well-weighted clutch, and boosted driver engagement tenfold. We’ll review the DCT on the SR Premium.

Dynamically the IRS and the specific dampers/springs/bushes et cetera take the adequate Active and turn the i30 into a real corner-carver. There’s a well-sorted chassis under it all, and the setup gives good body control without making the ride too harsh for a daily driver.

Private buyers would do well to stretch to the SR over the Active, it’s a delight. One point to note though is the service intervals are reduced to 12-months/10,000km capped at $269 a pop for the first three visits. Still, there’s a very strong argument that it’s the pick.


2017 Hyundai i30 Elite 

Pricing before on-road costs:

  • Elite 100kW/300Nm diesel DCT auto – $28,950

Four definitive features:

  • Diesel engine only
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Radar-guided cruise control
  • Rear cross-traffic alert

Driving the i30 Elite

The Elite comes with a 1.6 diesel engine only, paired to a DCT auto only. This is a marked departure from the class norms, though when Hyundai gets access to a 2.0 petrol it’ll likely take the plunge.

As it stands this variant is the comfort and economy-focused Hyde to the SR’s aggressive Jekyll. The latter’s 18-inch alloys are replaced with 17s (though the full-size spare returns), the multi-link IRS goes back to the Active’s torsion beam, and the ride is tuned for plushness.

The SR’s boy/girl racer red seatbelts and stitching and alloy pedals are gone as well, replaced by a more mature and sombre vibe. Black leather seats are the default though our test car demonstrates the cream colour you can opt for. The quality is way better than basically any rival we’ve tried. Cheapo vinyl, this is not.

The 100kW/300Nm diesel engine is actually a pretty solid option in a class dominated by peaky petrols, because its power/torque delivery is lazy and relaxed, its fuel economy low (we managed 5.6L/100km) and ample firewall sound-deadening and insulation keeps noise and vibrations from the engine out of the cabin, even at idle.

Hyundai has really gone to effort here. It’s also gone to effort to keep out any old-school dual-clutch transmission woes such as low-peed shudders and indecisiveness, while the Auto Hold function to stop creeping does its part. Generally it works well, though you still get some minor rolling before first gear or reverse take up.

The diesel adds a little weight over the nose, and in general the Elite is less nimble and sprightly than the equally priced SR auto. Yet it’s quiet, relaxed, does high-mileage between fills and offers the full suite of preventative, active safety aids as listed above.

The diesel engine also gives the i30 a Euro feel, and is clearly going to speak to country people, or buyers who’ve experienced something like a Volkswagen Golf or Peugeot 308 diesel before. The Elite is well worth a look for them, and those who want economy over sportiness. Provided they’re cool using a diesel pump!


2017 Hyundai i30 SR Premium 

Pricing before on-road costs:

  • SR Premium 150kW/265Nm petrol DCT auto – $33,950

Four definitive features:

  • Electric seat adjustment
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • LED headlights and reading lights
  • Red seat belts, black headlining and alloy pedals

Driving the i30 SR Premium

Take the i30 SR turbo, add $5000 and features such as a massive glass roof, heated/cooled electric-adjusted leather seats, sharper LED headlights that add visual appeal and improve night vision and smaller touches such as all-round one-touch up/down windows and you get the SR Premium.

The 150kW engine is here, as is the sportier chassis and steering tune, while the seven-speed DCT is standard, ditto all that active safety.

What impressed us was the way the gearbox blends rapid shifts with urban decisiveness and instantaneous responses even under very heavy or instant throttle inputs. It’s almost at Volkswagen Group DSG standard, though Hyundai is newer to the caper.

The i30 SR Premium asks the dual questions of 1) how much sportiness do you need from your hatch? And 2) if 150kW is enough, how much luxury? Because at $34k it matches some cars tens of thousands pricer.

Seriously sharp, though we could easily do without the sunroof, forego seat heating and cooling and live with halogen headlights to save $5000 and get the regular SR. Plus, a manual option would be nice…


2017 Hyundai i30 Premium 

Pricing before on-road costs:

  • Premium 100kW/300Nm diesel DCT auto – $33,950

Four definitive features:

  • Leather seats with heating/cooling
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • LED headlights and reading lights
  • Cloth headlining

The relationship between the flagship i30 Premium and SR Premium is the same as the $5000 cheaper i30 Elite and SR pair.

The Premium has all of the SR Premium features as mentioned above, while it loses the turbo-petrol and IRS but gains the 300Nm diesel donk, 17-inch alloys and full-size spare wheel.

The story is familiar, then. The sunroof gives a tremendous sense of ambience, the leather seats are well-crafted, the active safety tech future-proofs the vehicle somewhat (as does the phone-based infotainment) and the diesel is quiet, efficient and offers a decent mid-range.

Who’s buying the i30 Premium? The same regional or luxury focused buyers as the Elite. We’d save the money and buy the latter, and add the $2000 sunroof (something you can also do with the SR v the SR Premium). You’re still $3000 better off in both cases.


VERDICT

Hopefully this has given you a useful run-through of the hyped new Hyundai i30 range.

The base i30 Active will likely get some sharper campaign pricing at some point down the track, but as it stands, is a better budget-buy than a Corolla Ascent or Mazda 3 Neo.

Meanwhile the i30 Elite is excellent value and adds a heap of active safety features such as AEB and adaptive cruise, plus the torque-rich and efficient diesel engine that’s a point of difference (a $2000 cheaper petrol option down the line would be appreciated).

Neither the SR Premium or Premium are insultingly overpriced, but the $5000 extra cost over their SR or Elite subordinates seems unnecessary. Just shell out $2000 for the sunroof and be done with it.

But it’s the i30 SR (below) that’s our pick. Brilliant value for money, genuinely fun driving dynamics and mature yet handsome design all feature. The purist in us says go the engaging manual ‘box, while our responsible side says opt for the DCT with its extra safety kit. Either works.

Overall, is the Hyundai i30 a match for the class-topping Volkswagen Golf and impressive new Honda Civic or Subaru Impreza? We’d say yes to the latter and ‘not quite’ to the former, but it’s closer than ever and could truly go either way. Go kick the tyres and see for yourself.

Active

SR

Elite

SR Premium

Premium

Price before on-road costs 

$20,950 petrol manual ($2300 for auto) 

$23,450 diesel manual ($2500 for auto) 

$25,950 manual ($3000 for auto)

$28,950 auto

$33,950 auto

$33,950 auto

Colour as tested

Marina Blue

Fiery Red

Stargazing Blue

Phoenix Orange

Demitasse Brown

Engine

2.0 petrol (P)

1.6 turbo-diesel (D)

1.6 turbo-petrol

1.6 turbo-diesel

1.6 turbo-petrol

1.6 turbo-diesel

Power

P: 120kW at 6200rpm

D: 100kW at 4000rpm

150kW at 6000rpm

100kW at 1500-3000rpm

150kW at 6000rpm

100kW at 1500-3000rpm

Torque

P: 203Nm at 4700 rpm 

D: 300Nm at 1750-2500rpm

265Nm at 1500-4500rpm

300Nm at 1750-2500rpm

265Nm at 1500-4500rpm

300Nm at 1750-2500rpm

Transmission

Six-speed manual

Six-speed auto

Six-speed manual

Seven-speed dual-clutch auto

Seven-speed dual-clutch auto

Seven-speed dual-clutch auto

Drive

Front-wheel

Front-wheel

Front-wheel

Front-wheel

Front-wheel

Claimed 91 RON fuel economy

P: 7.4L/100km 

D: 4.7L/100km (diesel)

7.5L/100km

4.7L/100km

7.5L/100km

4.7L/100km

CarAdvice fuel economy

P: 7.6L/100km

7.9L/100km

5.6L/100km

8.0L/100km

5.6L/100km

Kerb weight

P: 1357kg

D: 1418kg

1407kg

1445kg

1436kg

1445kg

Length

4340mm

4340mm

4340mm

4340mm

4340mm

Wheelbase

2650mm

2650mm

2650mm

2650mm

2650mm

Height

1455mm

1455mm

1455mm

1455mm

1455mm

Width

1795mm

1795mm

1795mm

1795mm

1795mm

Cargo space

395L

395L

395L

395L (12V outlet in boot)

395L (12V outlet in boot)

Luggage net

Braked towing capacity

1300kg

1300kg

1300kg

1300kg

1300kg

Steering

Electric assist

Electric assist

Electric assist

Electric assist

Electric assist

Turning circle

10.6m

10.6m

10.6m

10.6m

10.6m

Wheels

16-inch alloy

18-inch alloy

17-inch alloy

18-inch alloy

17-inch alloy

Tyres

205/55

225/40

225/45

225/40

225/45

Spare wheel

Full-size alloy

Temporary

Full-size alloy

Temporary

Full-size alloy

Seven airbags

Top-tether child-seat anchors

3

3

3

3

3

ISOFIX anchors

2

2

2

2

2

Rear-view camera

Rear parking sensors

Front parking sensors

AEB

(DCT auto only)

Blind-spot monitor

Driver attention alert

(DCT auto only)

Forward collision warning

(DCT auto only)

Rear cross-traffic alert

Lane-keeping assist

(DCT auto only)

Cruise control

Regular

Regular (radar-guided active with DCT auto)

Radar-guided active

Radar-guided active

Radar-guided active

8.0-inch touchscreen

Sat-nav

SUNA live traffic updates

Apple CarPlay

Android Auto

Bluetooth

Digital radio

USB/Aux-in

Speakers

6

6

6

6

6

Rain-sensing wipers

Push-button start with proximity key

Steering wheel controls

Seats

Cloth

Leather-appointed

Leather-appointed

Leather-appointed

Leather-appointed

Seat heating/cooling

Driver height adjustment

10-way electric adjustment

Sunroof

Air-conditioning

Regular

Climate control

Climate control

Climate control

Climate control

Rear air vents


DCT only

Outboard LED reading lights

Black headlining

Dual exhaust outlets

Red seatbelts

Red cabin inserts

Alloy pedals

Headlights

Halogen

Halogen

Halogen

LED

LED

Daytime running lights

LED

LED

LED

LED

LED

Dusk-sensing headlights

Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser

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About Mysterious Everythings

Le Minh Hieu is a national-level weightlifter and a Singapore Weightlifting sports performance coach. Hieu's biggest passion is helping everyone find confidence, happiness, and health through fitness.