Thursday, March 8, 2018

Small Victories

Small Victories

Review: Hyundai i30 o'clock

08 March 18

Michael McWilliams

Is this the model to bring Hyundai another fistful of trophies?
...well it didn't win COTY, perhaps it's enough to win hearts and minds.

The first time I drove an i30, I wasn't very impressed. It was a GD series ActiveX spec which relied on mediocre looking alloys supplementing a few trinkets in order to move some low priced units.

There's was no shock and awe, but it left me nodding, with my internal monologue settling on a score of "that's ok. Not too bad". Straight after, I jumped into the base model 7 spd DCT turbo diesel. It was silver with wheel covers and not a fancy piece of tech in sight.

Nonetheless, it immediately elevated my opinion to "ooh, they really know what they are doing".

The 7 speed DCT had it's niggles (as all DSGs do), but there was a clear sense that the level of control across that front axle was robust. And the fuel economy blew my socks off, returning 4.2l/100kms (56USMPG) on my daily run to Brisbane.

Third time around the buoy, was the 2.0 Direct injected SR. A little bit gruff, a little bit noisy and excitedly pointy, the last iteration of the i30 GD5 Series II was the last time I drove a normally aspirated 4 cyl that still felt like it wanted to play around the top end.

It was a strong run for the GD series. There were months breaking 5000 units, and it has no doubt created another generation, not just ready to buy again, but to recommend the Korean brand to their friends and family.

Next Generation

The new PD series though, that is something else. This is the start of the era when people stop saying "that's nice for a Korean car" and start wondering why they are paying so much for the competition.

The new i30 has a diverse range on offer, with the poise and technology to hold it in good stead against most competitors. These are the cars which create an expectation for future Hyundai products.

Active Improvements

The entry model i30 is now called the "Go" which you can slide in under the 20k mark, but it's an arbitrary limbo, so stick your neck out and try the Active. I first got my hands on a white auto, and to be honest, it was a little underwhelming to look at. That's because the biggest money has been spent on the way it drives.

Gone is the entry level 1.8 MPI of the previous generation. In its place is a modest tuned 2.0 direct injected petrol unit backed by a traditional 6 speed automatic. The pairing makes light work of most regular duties, and can be encouraged to push on when there's a break in the traffic.

Comfort is quite good but for some reason the head rest seems more pronounced than others. It makes the cabin feel like you're sitting very upright. As a result, the dash, with the straight up and down touch screen feels a bit too close for comfort.

The base model wheel was also rather plasticky, matching with other interior plastics, which detract from the overall feel of the cabin, but not the driving experience. 

Nonetheless, I had zero problems operating the GPS (standard in the Active!) and Android Auto, though I am desperate for the day when Android Auto and Apple Car Play go wireless (this year allegedly). The touch screen is ample, and controls are intuitive. 


Size wise the Hyundai has remained a compact option. The interior fits my family just, but all preferred the Tucson that we drove over Christmas (no surprise there).

The dimensions though, do make the i30 a great city option. Maneuverability is excellent, and the traditional style auto is well matched to urban life. I even preferred the higher profile tyres which are pothole proof (virtually) meaning dodgy roads are not really of concern.

The whole package elevates the new i30 to a very comfortable spot in the market. Best of all, even this base model drives well enough that regular humans will feel the difference, and hopefully appreciate how a decent car feels to drive.

Active Wear

The headline for the SR model is the 1.6 direct injected turbo. It's pulls hard enough to make you want to back off, and corners like you need to lift. There's no great roar or noise so you end up going faster than intended. 

I had a few moments where I was reminding myself of the old adage: a superior pilot uses superior judgment to avoid situations that require superior skill. 

BYO courage. I ignored my advice.

The DCT gearbox swaps cogs fast enough for fangio and for the most part, will pick them before you do. While the front isn't as pointy as I like, it was probably due to the higher entry speed afforded by the hairdryer whistling away beneath the bonnet.

It remains composed on most occasions though I'd appreciate a little more untidiness. 


Of course the SR I drove was packed to the gunwales with everything from Lane Keeping Assist, Emergency Automatic Braking and the devils cruise control (Radar Cruise). That means the SR pilot can pay even less attention to the road than ever before. Conditions permitting, the car keeps you on the straight and narrow. There are caveats with that which I shall cover in a vid, so subscribe here-> (Yube LOFYT).

Other niceties include a better quality, and rather colourful trim, including orange seat belts (yes I liked them!). The memory drivers seat was upside every which way adjustable and heated and cooled. I had no real trouble getting comfortable, but was often distracted by the moon roof, which I kept staring up through, just because I could.  

The Full Quid

The range starts at 19,990 for the Go 6M 2.0DI petrol, but for a measly $995 clams you're into the Active spec. Diesel is a $2500 option on either and yes, they can both come with a manual (huzzah! thank you at least for the choice!), or $2700 for the diesel auto option as it is an upgrade to the DCT. 

There are a plethora of additional combinations, numbering 14 in total when you include the shiny new N Performance GTI/WRX/CivicTypeR  competitor, topping out at $40k. There's even a cushy Elite diesel for those who would rather sip and coast, than point and shoot.

For me though, the sweet spot lies with the SR 1.6T 6M, at a rather agreeable $26k. You miss out on the fancy roof, but it will still drive like you shouldn't, whenever you want to. 

Chicken Dinner

The change from the GD to PD series was not only a generational leap for the i30, it was almost a segment jump. In my humble opinion, it doesn't really matter if the i30 wins Australia's most popular car, COTY, Australia's Best Car, or whatever other gong is being thrown around. 

What the i30 is really winning is credibility, and that pays off well after the dust has settled in the trophy cabinet. 

Disclosure: Hyundai loaned me these vehicles each with a tank of fuel. I used it all and then some :-P

Check out more on Instagram: #I30Oclock

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