The choice is automatic
As the base model, Hyundai’s i30 Active is well equipped with mainstream features but no advanced driver assist technology. The diesel auto adds quite a bit to the base petrol’s $21,450, bringing in Apple CarPlay, cruise control with wheel switches, heated exterior mirrors, aircon with rear vents, cabin air filter, glove box cooler and five-mode trip computer. Satnav and rain-sensing wipers don’t make it. The dual-clutch seven-speed auto is well worth the money. Warranty is five years/unlimited km and capped servicing costs $867 for three years, at 12 months/15,000km intervals.
Front seats are of decent size, with height adjustment but no lumbar adjust. The wheel adjusts for reach and rake. Three rear passengers get reasonable space but the centre pew is on the squeezy side. Local engineering for the ride and steering pays dividends in terms of comfort and control but the i30 is no sporty hatch. The relatively high profile rubber on 16-inch steel wheels are good over bumps. Apple CarPlay is handy but the Bluetooth needs frequent reconnection. Boot space is ample and the rear seats fold for a large, if not flat, load space. Cabin noise is relatively low, the audio is fine and the demisting efficient.
Five stars from ANCAP thanks to seven airbags and despite paucity of driver assistance. The reversing camera has parking guides. There are rear park sensors, auto headlights and a full-size spare. The dynamic package adds to the i30’s underlying safety as it has crisp responses to steering and brakes and decent grip from the tyres, even in the wet. Outward vision is good, controls are easy to use but the horn is feeble.
With the slick-shifting auto harnessing the ample torque, the i30 diesel has plenty of go over a wide operating range. It’s quick out of the blocks and has strong roll-on acceleration for overtaking. In Eco mode it tends to rush to top gear too quickly. The fairly rudimentary torsion beam rear suspension makes a good fist of controlling mass of 1337kg plus five passengers. In the absence of paddle-shifters there is a manual selector gate. The i30 can handle commuter duties, touring or general running around — among the main reasons it regularly tops the sales charts.
Few to speak of — there aren’t many diesel autos in the small car category. Peugeot’s diesel 308 starting at $33,686 or a Golf diesel at $35,840 are not within a bull’s roar. Renault’s Megane 1.5, at $27,000, isn’t a bad thing.
Much to like, especially as we covered more than 1000km on a single tank. The DCT auto is imperceptible in operation, better than a six-speed conventional auto. The annoying Bluetooth detracts. The styling is attractive and the overall feel is pleasing.