Active ware looks smart
Even the base i30 brings low running costs, top quality and ample features
YOU don’t mess around with a winning formula, so Hyundai’s third-generation i30 brings more of the same: strong value for money proposition, excellent quality and reliability backed up by a generous warranty.
We’re in the base model Active, priced at $20,950 for the 2.0-litre petrol with a six-speed manual. Our test car has a sixspeed auto, which adds $2300.
That’s excluding on-road costs but Hyundai is the original drive-away deal brand — and the i30 only hits the big sales tallies when it’s got a drive-away sticker on the windscreen — so you can already get a base auto for $24,990 drive-away. Expect a discount war if Toyota and Mazda try to kneecap the new i30 with super-sharp drive-away deals on Corolla and Mazda3.
The i30’s styling has become much more conservative, inside and out, closer to its Kia stablemate’s Euro aesthetic and heavily influenced by VW and Audi. It is supposed to look purposeful, solid and Germanic but the result is a bland, rather dated-looking box. In profile, you could almost pick the new i30 as an old Golf.
There’s substance to compensate for the lack of style, though. All models above Active include a comprehensive suite of radar/camera based driver assist safety features: automatic emergency braking — which can bring you to a complete stop from 80km/h and slow the vehicle from higher speeds — blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert, lane keeping and radar cruise. The package will be an Active option by year’s end.
There’s ample driving position adjustment, clear vision around the car (assisted by a rear camera with moving guidelines) and a comfortable driver’s seat, albeit with basic adjustments, a fairly short cushion and minimal backrest bolstering.
Rear legroom is on the tight side for tall adults and there are no rear vents or backrest angle adjustment, though the bench itself is firm and comfortable.
Boot space is generous but you have to lift objects over a high lip and put them into a deep well in the floor. The extended floor has a big step in it, too. The Active has a full-size spare on an alloy wheel; other models have a space saver.
Active’s 2.0-litre engine, now with direct rather than port injection, goes well enough though like any naturally aspirated four it lacks the midrange pulling power of a turbo. Still, with the six-speed auto it gets off the line smartly and doesn’t need a heavy right foot to hold its own in the traffic, where the test car averaged 1011L/100km on regular unleaded.
Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes are provided, plus a manual shifting mode if you want to pretend you’re in a sporty car. The absence of paddle-shifters on the wheel is a big clue that you’re not.
On tall tyres (205/55-16 Kumhos) the ride is Euro-style firm with excellent compliance on rough city streets.
You face a slim, efficient dash, in quality grey plastics with gloss black plastic trim and lots of handy storage. Switches and controls work with precision and the touchscreen, mounted high on the dash where it’s easy to see and reach, has bright, hi-res graphics and manual controls for important functions. Voice control works only with the Android or CarPlay apps on your USBconnected smartphone but the Bluetooth connection is quick and reliable and the traffic information and speed camera alerts can save you grief.
ON THE ROAD
Maximum torque doesn’t kick in until 4700rpm and at 100km/h the 2.0-litre is pulling a lazy 2000rpm in sixth. The i30 cruises quietly and easily on flat terrain but the transmission can hunt on hills as it searches in vain for mid-range grunt. A constantly variable transmission would work better. The Active weighs a porky 1382kg, which doesn’t help performance, either.
Sport mode holds the intermediate gears and taps a reasonably willing and responsive top end. Kickdown is also quick and smooth if you do it by the conventional method of planting the accelerator.
Expect thirst of 6-7L/100km on the highway.
The suspension is tuned on the firm side for disciplined body control, efficient bump absorption and secure roadholding at speed, but the steering feels slightly vague and disconnected on centre in Eco and Normal modes, a typical Hyundai trait. Sport mode adds feel and precision.
Hyundai sets no class benchmarks with this i30 but it has made a good thing better. My partner has a 2009 model with 120,000km on the clock and it’s still as tight and reliable as the day she bought it.
As with the Toyota Corolla Ascent, its closest rival, the base i30 Active means set and forget motoring, low running costs, A-grade quality and generous specification at a bargain price, especially when the inevitable drive-away deals appear. What’s not to like about that?