HYUNDAI IS TAK­ING THE SAFE ROUTE

Al­though the Turbo is short on spec­ta­cle and speed, the new I30 pro­vides su­pe­rior re­li­a­bil­ity

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - ANDY EN­RIGHT

THE Euro­pean-de­signed and built i30 first ar­rived back in 2007, with the se­cond gen­er­a­tion car de­but­ing in 2012 and re­ceiv­ing a plethora of up­dates for 2015. Shar­ing plat­forms and pow­er­trains with the Kia cee’d and pro_cee’d, it has helped the brand shake off much of its bud­get im­age, prov­ing very pop­u­lar thanks to high stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion, re­li­a­bil­ity and a 5 year un­lim­ited mileage war­ranty.

One thing Hyundai hasn’t ever showed too much in­ter­est in though, is high per­for­mance. Not in its road cars any­way: for years, it’s been ral­ly­ing, cam­paign­ing Coupe, Ac­cent and more re­cently i20 mod­els.

The i30 Turbo variant we look at here at last builds on that ex­pe­ri­ence, us­ing the same turbo-boosted 1.6-litre en­gine as the Kia cee’d GT.

Al­though just a few years ago 186PS was a se­ri­ous fig­ure for a hot hatch, times have changed. Don’t com­pare this to the likes of the Golf GTI, Vaux­hall Astra VXR or SEAT Leon Cupra: think more Astra SRI or Leon FR and you’ll not be too far from the mark.

This is very much a ‘warm’ hatch, sup­pos­edly blend­ing ac­cept­able lev­els of CO2 and fuel con­sump­tion with just enough grunt to put a smile on your face and enough styling changes to make you stand out from the crowd.

With no pos­si­bil­ity of an ul­ti­mate head­line-grab­bing power out­put to make this warm hatch feel ex­cit­ing, the chas­sis will come un­der close scru­tiny. So, have Hyundai’s ef­forts un­der the skin paid off in de­liv­er­ing a dy­namic drive. Or are the looks writ­ing cheques the chas­sis can’t cash?

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

Hyundai boast of a num­ber of changes to the chas­sis of the Turbo to make it han­dle bet­ter and in­volve the driver more. The stiffer sports sus­pen­sion has been tuned on the fear­some Nur­bur­gring Nord­schleife cir­cuit, while the steer­ing is quicker than be­fore, need­ing less twirling to get the nose into cor­ners.

There’s no lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial, ei­ther me­chan­i­cal or elec­tronic, to help get the power down, al­though we doubt it needs one. True, 186PS is not an in­con­sid­er­able num­ber of ponies but it isn’t enough to cause the in­side front wheel to bon­fire its tyre at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

A 0-62mph time of 8 sec­onds flat con­firms a car that will be no­tice­ably quicker than your av­er­age hatch­back but still a good se­cond and a half slower than a true hot hatch. Top speed is 136mph, enough to lose your li­cence spec­tac­u­larly but again down on spicier of­fer­ings from other makes. You can choose three dif­fer­ent steer­ing weights on Hyundai’s ‘Flex-steer’ sys­tem de­pend­ing on whether you’re pot­ter­ing or hooning. What this won’t change is the level of feed­back you get through the elec­tri­cally-as­sisted helm, so things are likely to be a bit on the numb side.

On the plus side, the tauter sus­pen­sion will no doubt im­prove pre­ci­sion and, along with the wider tyres, in­crease grip. So over­all, this car will shift, but do so with­out ever truly stir­ring your soul.

De­sign and Build

Up front, the Turbo re­ceives the lat­est take on Hyundai’s hexag­o­nal grille but loses the chrome trim of lesser mod­els. The all-black mouth adds a lit­tle ag­gres­sion, as do re­shaped day­time run­ning lights that sit above meshed vents that do with­out fog­lights. The lower bumper gains a red stripe and more an­gu­lar de­tail­ing, while round the back you get a faux dif­fuser, two fairly big tailpipes, an­other red stripe and more an­gles. To top off the ex­te­rior, you get 18” wheels of split five-spoke de­sign that cer­tainly fill the arches con­vinc­ingly.

In­side, Hyundai have come over a lit­tle Eight­ies and splashed red de­tail­ing ev­ery­where. Even though it re­minds us of an old MG Metro, the red stitch­ing in the steer­ing wheel, doors, seats and gear lever do set the scene well. The seats them­selves have enough sup­port for all but the most en­thu­si­as­tic cor­ner­ing but won’t be too tricky to get in and out of.

The red pan­els on th­ese chairs won’t be for ev­ery­one but seem en­tirely suit­able for this type of car, as do the drilled alu­minium ped­als. Un­like the MG Metro and more mod­ern hot hatches like say, the Re­nault­sport Clio, the seat­belts are stan­dard black: you missed a trick there Hyundai.

As for boot space, you get 378-litres, 8-litres more than an Astra SRI but 2-litres less than a Leon FR. Opt for the five-door i30 Turbo variant and you’ll re­ceive an es­pe­cially prac­ti­cal propo­si­tion.

Mar­ket and Model

The i30 Turbo costs around £23,000 in three-door guise, with a £500 pre­mium if you want the five-door ver­sion. Apart from colour, that’s the only choice you’ll have to make. That’s around a thou­sand more than what is prob­a­bly this model’s clos­est ri­val, SEAT’S Leon FR in 180PS 1.8 TSI petrol form.

The Hyundai is bet­ter equipped and has a longer war­ranty but then the SEAT is very good fun from be­hind the wheel. Peu­geot’s 308 GT is a bit more ex­pen­sive at around £24,000, but is more pow­er­ful and there­fore faster. Not only that but it’s also more eco­nom­i­cal, too.

For us though, the gi­ant ele­phant in the room here is Ford’s Fo­cus ST. Al­though nowhere near as well equipped, the en­try level ST-1 is about the same price as the i30 Turbo, but a whole heap faster, the Ford’s big­ger 2.0 turbo en­gine pro­duc­ing a far stronger 250 PS.

If it’s the i30 Turbo you still want, you’ll be get­ting plenty of gad­gets for your money. Such niceties as dual zone cli­mate con­trol, a touch­screen sat-nav with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, a rear park­ing cam­era, heated sports seats plus all the usual elec­tric func­tions (win­dows and mir­rors etc) we come to ex­pect th­ese days. If you do want to splash out on the only op­tion of metal­lic paint, ex­pect to pay around £500. As for safety, there’s trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS with elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion and brake as­sist to help you come to a stop quicker, plus seven airbags if you can’t stop fast enough.

Cost of Own­er­ship

While other mod­els in the i30 range may of­fer sub-100 g/km C02 lev­els and up­wards of 70mpg, the Turbo is not quite as kind to your wal­let. It pumps out 169g/km of car­bon diox­ide, putting it in VED band H, plus there’s com­bined fuel econ­omy of 38.7mpg.

You may think this is fair enough given the ex­tra per­for­mance, but bear in mind Peu­geot’s 308 GT is more fuel ef­fi­cient, less pol­lut­ing and also faster.

Both the three and five-door i30 Turbo mod­els are rated at in­sur­ance group 21A. As with the rest of the range, a five year un­lim­ited mileage war­ranty is in­cluded, with a three or five year fixed price ser­vic­ing deal an op­tion.

Sum­mary

To look at the i30 Turbo as a full blown hot hatch is a mis­take. It doesn’t quite have the speed or driver in­volve­ment needed to take the fight to more souped-up shop­ping trol­leys — but then it isn’t sup­posed to.

If you want a truly hot Hyundai, you’ll need to wait for one of the ru­moured ‘N’ branded cars, de­vel­oped with help from an EX-BMW M-divi­sion en­gi­neer.

Still, if it’s an ex­ceed­ingly well equipped sporty yet quite sub­tle three or five-door warm hatch you’re re­ally af­ter, then this quick i30 could make sense, es­pe­cially with the peace of mind the war­ranty de­liv­ers.

If you’re in the mar­ket for some­thing prac­ti­cal and quick — but not too quick — then this Turbo Hyundai’s well worth a look.

Boys toys: the i30 Turbo comes with plenty of gad­gets

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