Hyundai i30 SR Pre­mium

Top-spec SR adds lots of kit and a DCT

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

HYUNDAI is about to set upon us its first proper hot hatch, the i30 N. The thing is, had Hyundai re­leased its calmer SR brother a few years ago, they’d al­ready have had a hot hatch. With 150kW/265Nm, this sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble ‘warm hatch’ ri­vals the spicier five-doors of yes­ter­year. In the mid2000s, a Mk V Golf GTI was putting out 147kW/280Nm from a 2.0-litre turbo four. The new i30 SR al­most matches this while rock­ing just a boosted 1.6.

Once you’ve planted your­self be­hind the wheel of the SR, you’ll find lit­tle to com­plain about with the driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Well laid-out con­trols and in­tu­itive er­gonomics make the car easy to get to know, while well-bol­stered leather seats make for a comfy and vis­ually pleas­ant space to steer from. Pleas­ant, but not par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing for en­thu­si­asts, un­less red stitch­ing and trim high­lights get your pulse rac­ing.

Start­ing the en­gine isn’t likely to raise the heart rate, ei­ther. The turbo four-pot doesn’t give off a par­tic­u­larly rous­ing note, nor does it ini­tially feel like it’s got much grunt, de­spite de­vel­op­ing full torque from just 1500rpm. Switch­ing to Sport and bring­ing the pad­dles into play helps matters, and there’s enough urge that a firm ap­pli­ca­tion of boot to pedal will re­sult in a smooth, lin­ear surge of turbo-as­sisted ac­cel­er­a­tion.

There are no prizes for guess­ing it’s not mind-blow­ingly quick, but that’s not the point of the SR. A windy road is its more nat­u­ral habi­tat, with mul­ti­link rear sus­pen­sion of­fer­ing a greater level of han­dling so­phis­ti­ca­tion than its tor­sion-beamed pre­de­ces­sor.

The base i30 SR im­pressed on track at BFYB and its top-spec sib­ling proves this tal­ent ap­plies to the road as well. At­tack a tight cor­ner and even if you slightly overdo it the car will ac­cept more steer­ing lock with few complaints from chas­sis, tyres or ESP.

The brakes are pro­gres­sive and re­main rel­a­tively un­fazed at a brisk road pace, with even a proper mid­corner stomp fail­ing to dis­turb its com­po­sure beyond the chirp­ing of

ABS and the haz­ard lights tsk-tsk­ing their dis­ap­proval. The only real dy­namic short­fall are the Hankook tyres, which gen­er­ated too much noise on coarse-chip sur­faces and not enough grip in the wet.

Un­for­tu­nately, the seven-speed dual-clutch gear­box fit­ted to our Pre­mium-spec test car let the side down some­what with slow shifts and a re­fusal to al­low full man­ual con­trol. It’s one good rea­son to opt for the base SR, which al­lows the choice of man­ual or DCT ’box, while the Pre­mium’s price tag of $33,950 is an­other.

It’s loaded with ex­tra kit, in­clud­ing heated and ven­ti­lated elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats, LED head­lights and a panoramic sun­roof, but most of the ba­sics are present in the $25,950 base SR which of­fers a stronger value propo­si­tion. For keen drivers spend­ing a lit­tle more, we’d be rec­om­mend­ing the likes of the Re­nault Sport Clio or Peu­geot 208 GTi.

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