DON'T let the size fool you. The Hyundai i30 may be small, but it carries a hefty sales burden for Hyundai.
Last year it was the fourth best-selling car in the nation and this Hyundai i30 Series II is charged with the responsibility of playing a pivotal role in the brand's positive sales projection.
Prices have dropped, and to help kick-start interest the new i30 starts from an enticing $19,990 drive-away - the automatic is $2000 more - during April.
This second coming represents a gentle massage of its predecessor. The grille is more upmarket, it's an adaptation of what we've seen on the luxury Genesis sedan, while the engine line-up has been refreshed, boasting more efficiency.
It's a case of more of the same, but with some deal sweeteners via extra features and lower pricing.
With a new colour touch-screen in the bargain basement models, it's essentially status quo in terms of cabin design.
Drivers and passengers will appreciate the simplicity of operations and well labelled buttons.
Base Active models get cloth trim, but the newly introduced ActiveX gains man-made leather to add some class and the $2000 premium is a small price to pay for the luxurious additions.
The driver has concise instruments with a large analogue speedometer and tachometer. Sitting between the gauges is a digital screen which offers a variety of trip information, and the difference between Premium models and the lower rungs is distinctive via the colour and higher quality display. Cabin space is reasonable, and there should be no issue with carrying four adults. There are also rear heating ducts, while the driver has full telescopic steering wheel adjustment.
On the road
The i30 was a trailblazer in terms of the localised ride and handling program.
Australian experts hone and test on our soil and then those changes are implemented at the factory. The end result is car which suits our roads and driving preferences.
This Series II is no different; sitting on the road it feels confident and capable in varying conditions.
A trio of engine options are available, two petrols via a 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre (exclusive to SR) paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, while there is also a diesel which can be mated to the six-speed manual or for the first time a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
While the petrols are now Euro 5 compliant, it's the diesel which boasts the biggest gains. When fitted with the slicker shifting auto box, which feels smooth and enables the i30 to tick along at 100kmh around 1500rpm, it has an extra 4kW and 40Nm.
The SR is the most sporting variant of the line-up, particularly with its more performance-oriented set-up, but even the other models can hold their own when pushed.
On some pretty average surfaces the i30 proved compliant and comfortable with the only complaint some minor tyre rumble on the highway.
What do you get?
Hyundai has added a rear-view camera to the basic equipment, along with rear parking sensors, which combines with seven airbags and the technological safety aids which are now expected on modern offerings, like stability and traction control, as well as anti-lock brakes.
Active variants come with a 12.7cm touch-screen with MP3 capability, six speakers, the Pandora internet radio app capability via tethering with smartphone, auxiliary and USB inputs along with full phone connectivity, cruise control and air-conditioning.
ActiveX adds 16-inch alloys over the steel wheels, made-made leather trim, improved surfaces on the steering wheel, gear knob, door trim and instruments along with electric folding exterior mirrors.
The SR replaces the old Elite, and gains the punchier engine along with LED running lights and taillights, larger 17-inch alloys, automatic lights, 17.7cm touch-screen with sat nav and CD player, dual zone air con, push-button start, alloy pedals and a sportier look.
Premium models have the best of what's available, also picking up high intensity xenon headlights with auto levelling, electric adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, real leather upholstery, electric park brake, rear seat cooling vents, massive sunroof, automatic wipers and the better driver LCD display.
Sampling the 1.8-litre petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel, both managed to return numbers extremely close to the official Hyundai figures. The petrol finished slightly over eight litres for every 100km, while the oil-burner was about five.
Hyundai trumpets its after-sales service care program, and it's hard to argue with lifetime capped price servicing and a five-year warranty. You can also take advantage of the app which enables you to book the vehicle in for servicing when it suits you by evaluating the time slots available.
Plaudits are deserved for functionality over form, and the i30 comes with dual cup holders in the centre console, bottle holders in each door, along with easy access to the USB/auxiliary and 12-volt ports in front of the shifter situated next to a space perfect for phones and audio devices.
Boot space is reasonable, there are three Isofix points for car seats and the rear pews fold with a 60-40 split. In the Premium models those seats drop flat and they also get two more cup holders in the fold-down arm rest.
You can spot the Series II via the new grille design, featuring a hexagonal style with black horizontal slats with satin chrome inserts also seen on the Genesis and Sonata.
Hyundai has mastered the task of achieving performance which will satisfy most drivers.
Falling shy of hard-edged yet far from yawn-worthy, the powertrains do the job reliably and without sucking the juice.
Justifiably upbeat about the improvements to this model, you sense Hyundai's frustration that an i30-sporned compact SUV is not waiting in the wings. It's a rapidly growing segment.
That is "a few years away" according to Hyundai Australia chief operating officer John Elsworth and for now the i30 Series II will confidently hold the small-car fort, with the European i10 and i20 proving too expensive business propositions.
What matters most
What we liked: Sound and reliable powertrain options, lower pricing.
What we'd like to see: CD players in base models, some extra external flair.
Warranty and servicing: Five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist for 12 months. Capped price servicing is available for the life of the car, and three years of free map updates. Over the first five years expect servicing on average be about $270 for the petrol models, and just over $300 for each diesel service.
Model: Hyundai i30 Series II.
Details: Five-door five-seat front-wheel drive compact hatch.
Engines: 1.8-litre petrol generating maximum power of 107kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 175Nm @ 4700rpm; 2.0-litre petrol 124kW @ 6500rpm and 201Nm @ 4700rpm; 1.6-litre turbo diesel 100kW @ 4000rpm and 260Nm @ 1500-3500rpm (300Nm @ 1750-2500rpm auto).
Transmission: Six speed manual, six-speed automatic and a seven-speed dual clutch automatic (diesel only).
Consumption: 1.8-litre: 7.0 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 7.3L/100km (a). 2.0-litre: 7.3L/100km (m), 7.7L/100km (a). 1.6-litre: 4.6L/100km, 4.9L/100km.
Bottom line plus on-roads: Petrol - Active $20,990 (m), $23,290 (a). ActiveX $22,090 (m), $24,390 (a). SR $25,590 (m), $27,890 (a). SR Premium $30,590 (m), $32,890 (a).
Diesel - Active $23,590 (m), $25,890 (a). ActiveX $24,690 (m), $26,990 (a). Premium $34,490.
See dealers for better drive-away pricing during April.
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