The small car class in Australia is hotly contested and one of the most popular in the class is the Hyundai i30, having driven quite a few of it’s competitors including the Holden Cruze SRiV the week before I was very interested to see how the i30 shaped up.
We know what a hot hatch is and there are some wickedly quick hot hatches on the market but the down side to a hot hatch is they can cost upwards of $40,000 or more which in my mind is a lot of money for a small car. But lately several manufacturers have brought what could be best described as warm hatches, now as the term suggests warm hatch aren’t quite as quick as a hot hatch. The up side to this is that while they might not quite have the outright speed of a hot hatch, they do offer however offer reasonable performance and a very entertaining drive and the case of the i30 SR at a saving of more then $10,000 than a hot hatch and to me that’s a decent amount of money.
I really do like the look of the i30 SR with a blacked out grille and fog light surrounds give the front end subtle yet somewhat sporty look.
I love the lines down the sides of car that starts and follows the wheel arch then curves up slightly as it gets to the back before bending downwards past the tail lights.
From the back apart from the small spoiler, SR badge and the bottom of the bar you would have trouble telling difference between the SR and the other model i30’s which is alright as it adds to the understated sporty looks. The SR rides on attractive 17inch alloys wrapped in Hankook Ventus Prime tyres.
The silver paint work called Hyper Silver looks rather nice, but would not be my first voice in colours if I bought one.
Slipping behind the wheel and I was surprised at how well set out the SR’s interior is, the leather seats are electrically adjusted with lumber support and this makes them easy to adjust I found them not specially comfortable and a little snug, surprisingly there is a heating function but it comes as an option and is not standard fit like quite a few others including the Cruze I’d driven the week before.
The i30’s multi function leather wrapped steering wheel is some what comfortable to hold but I found it a touch to thin, a touch hard which made it a fraction slippery when using one hand on the wheel like I have to do when coming in through the boom gates at work which meant I had to put a little bit of pressure on it while wheeling around slow corners, although it’s not noticeable with 2 hands on the wheel.
The instrument panel is extremely easy to read in any and back light with blue light at and looks rather attractive the LCD in between the gauges can display various functions such as fuel economy, distance to empty and various others via the steer wheel mounted button. One feature I found really good was the eco function which let you know when to change gears for maximum economy.
Soft touch plastics across the dash area nice touch and something I had not expected, the centre stack is home to the multimedia system which is very functional but not as good as say the Holden Mylink system, although in saying that while the sound is not the greatest it’s not bad at all.
It does however have full Bluetooth connectivity which was easy to use, live streaming of music, voice recognition, USB connection in the front of the console and satnav which worked great.
The centre console has a nifty deep storage bin at the front with a 12volt charging point and USB connection the only puzzling thing was the sides are open so it was easy for things to through the spaces onto the floor.
While on paper the Holden Cruze i’d driven the week before has slightly more front legroom it felt like the i30 had more legroom a thing even my wife commented on, I think partly it has to do with the shape of the lower dash which slopes towards the front of the car.
The rear seats offer great leg, head and shoulder room which means Hyundai have done an awesome using the interior space of the i30, I didn’t expect the interior space to be as generous as it was. The boot space is good at 378 litres and the back seats do fold down in case you need to fit bigger items in.
Other features include keyless entry and start which works great, dual zone climate control air con which works great although I found it took longer to warm up on cold mornings, HID Xenon headlights and LED tail lights, the fit finish was also great and there were no rattles or squeaks.
While other competitors are starting to go the way of smaller capacity turbo engines in other cars in it’s class, Hyumdai have taken the old school route with the i30SR, with power coming via a naturally aspirated 2.0L 4 cylinder engine which brought some memories of some potent little cars I grew up around in the 80’s when I was getting my licence.
Looking closer at the engine and there is nothing old school about it featuring direct injection and producing 129kW and 209Nm it is the most powerful engine in the i30 range. I really do like this engine the power delivery is smooth and it will happily rev up to its 6500rpm red line, in traffic it is very tractable but bury your right foot and the SR can move along rather spritely indeed, fuel economy is a mixed bag depending on how you drive it. I averaged around the 10l/100km mark which great because I wasn’t driving it with economy in mind on the freeway it returned even better figures. (funny enough though I found it returned better figures then Cruze the week before).
The 6 speed manual is one of the easiest to drive manuals I’ve driven, it has a nice smooth shift and the clutch is light making it very easy to drive even in bumper to bumper traffic.
Hyundai states the i30’s suspension has been tuned to Aussie conditions and their engineers have done a great job with it. The i30 rides wonderfully a touch on the firm side but that’s what I expected from the SR being that it’s the sports model i30. Around town I found it rode extremely well and handled most conditions perfectly you did feel some of the bigger bumps but there was bump or crash over them. Mother nature ruined my chance of really seeing how well it corned as it rained the day I went to throw at some corners I found the i30 SR sat really flat in corners.
Steering wise the SR is great it came with Hyundai Flex Steering which lets choose between 3 settings for the steering via a button on the steering wheel.
Each setting provide different levels of feeback and weight you feel while driving, comfort mode provides the lightest weight and makes it extremely easy to move the i30 through tight spots and car parks, normal mode firms the steering up a bit and I found was perfect for every day driving it gave me the right amount of feedback.
The Sport mode as it would suggest is great for when your pushing it a little hard and gives you the more feedback again I really did enjoy being able to click in between all the settings while driving along. I tested quite a lot during the week and preferred to keep it in normal mode most of the time, the i30 is extremely easy to steer so I didn’t bother changing the steering when i went into a car park. While I did enjoy using the sport mode specially when I was having a bit of fun I found the normal mode was perfectly weighted and my favourite for everyday driving.
The SR’s steering is direct and well weighted in any of the settings it’s handling, balance and cornering precision was great.
Safety Wise the SR has recieved a 5 star ANCAP rating and come with an extensive list of safety features as long as your arm, it also comes with reverse sensors and scores bonus points for having a rear view camera as standard fit.
So after week what do I think the i30 SR offers you a superb package for your money, and it is perfectly suited to life as a daily driver with added bonus of being a fun thing to drive on weekends.
The SR is packed full of safety features, give you a decent amount of space on the inside, has plenty of technology and can offer decent economy if you drive with that in mind.
While it does have plenty of good points, there were a couple things I didn’t like I found the seats not extremely comfortable, the heating function is an option while standard fit on other cars and the multimedia system while offering sat nav and full bluetooth conectivity it’s not quite as good as others on the market.
The SR however was massive fun to drive, it rode, steered and handled extremely well and the interior was very practical, well set out well and offered a great level of fit and finish.
If you are in the market for a sporty hatch, that can do double duty as the family or work transport during the week and offer you a fun driving experience on the weekend and doesn’t have the price tag of a hot hatch then you should seriously take a look at the i30 SR.
Massive thanks to Hyundai for lending me the i30SR for the week to find out more on the i30 SR visit Hyundai’s website www.hyundai.com.au