The i30 represents something of a turning point in Hyundai’s history. It not only brings with it a new naming system (the “i” nomenclature set to be rolled out on most likely all future Hyundais eventually), but it’s also the car that customers won’t feel the need to constantly justify to others. Sure, it’s cheap, and yes, it’s well specified and comes with that epic five-year warranty, but it’s also a good car in its own right.
The “i” in the i30 name, Hyundai says, is supposed to represent innovation, inspiration and intelligence. This car is all of those things. I’m sure its compatibility with the Apple iPod will not go unnoticed either.
With the base model SR at $18,990, plus the usual on-road, Hyundai has managed to maintain the affordability of the car, but even this lowliest entry-level model is fitted with air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows, alloy wheels, ESP (Electronic Stability Program), integrated audio with full connectivity and functionality for MP3, WMP and iPod and steering wheel remote controls. While a number of more mature future i30 owners may not have a clue what an iPod is (let alone MP3 or WMP), its integration into every model underlines the company’s future-looking stance.
Hyundai has long boasted that it wants to be one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. Those claims used to be sniggered at, but the Korean firm is serious, and the i30 is its most convincing model yet. Inside, the awful shiny plastics have gone. It’s still plastic, but it’s of far better quality and the detailing is excellent. It’s not all good news though. The dials are difficult to read in sunlight without the backlighting on, as are the ventilation controls.
Take a look at the rear; remind you of anything? A hint of 1 Series BMW? Its rump might look a little similar to the BMW, but don’t expect it to drive like one. Fun is how you’d describe it – the i30 is surprisingly zippy and around town it just gets on with the business of getting you to your destination. The i30 is a far cry though from the ride and handling of the previous Elantra. Hyundai Australia has had the steering and suspension specially developed for Australian conditions and it shows.
All Hyundai i30s will come with the choice of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder or a frugal 1.6-litre turbo-diesel. It’s the 1.6-litre turbo diesel that appeals most here. It reduces the 2.0-litre petrol’s 7.2 litres per 100km combined consumption figures to a miserly 4.7 litres and feels far more muscular. It’s a remarkably civilised engine too, being quiet at idle and smooth on the road. At an extra $2,500 over the petrol it is the best value small car diesel in the Australian market.
The i30 is a good car that underlines just how far Hyundai has come in recent years. Indeed, it’s good enough to see it snapping at the heels of the mainstream rather than just being considered a budget choice. The mainstream should be worried.
AUTO FACTS
Price: $18,990-$26,490
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol; 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: [email protected],000rpm; [email protected],600rpm, [email protected],000rpm; [email protected],900-2,750rpm
Transmission: Petrol: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic; Diesel: 5-speed manual only at this stage
Good: Great Euro styling and jam-packed with standard features
Bad: Expected more punch out of the 2.0-litre

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