Ac­tive ware looks smart

Even the base i30 brings low run­ning costs, top qual­ity and am­ple fea­tures

Mercury (Hobart) - Cars Guide - - ROAD TEST - BILL McKIN­NON bill.mckin­non@news.com.au

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

AROUND TOWN

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.

VER­DICT

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?

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