CAN'T ARGUE WITH THAT
IT’S Car of the Year season and Hyundai’s third generation i30, launched in April, is in the running for a gong or two.
As with previous i30s, at base model Active level – where most are sold as a drive-away, nomore-to-pay discount deal – it does nothing exceptionally well, but everything well enough.
It’s a no-grief proposition supported by excellent quality and reliability, a generous warranty and low running costs.
Today, we’re in the most expensive i30 variant, the SR Premium. It’s a sportier machine than the base model and, as a drive, easily the best i30 to date.
SR specification features a 1.6-litre turbo four, with 150kW of power matched with sixspeed manual or seven-speed dual clutch auto and frontwheel drive.
Prices kick off at $25,950 and the auto adds $3000. The SR Premium, with seven-speeder as standard, is $33,950.
To complement its sporty aspirations, the SR also gets a running gear upgrade.
A more sophisticated independent suspension layout replaces the other i30 models’ torsion beam rear, the front brake discs are larger and it’s shod with 18-inch alloys with grippy 225/40 Hankook Ventus tyres.
Its eight-inch touchscreen infotainment includes navigation, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus wireless phone charging.
Also standard are keyless entry and starting, electric parking brake, dual zone aircon, tinted glass, sunroof, tyre pressure monitoring, camera with moving guidelines and parking sensors at both ends. So the SR Premium is loaded. Heated, cooled and leatherupholstered, the SR Premium’s power adjustable sports seats are comfortable and supportive. The thin-rimmed, leatherwrapped steering wheel, black roof lining, red stitching and metallic-look red trim around the vents create an understated sporty elegance that feels almost Alfa Romeo in flavour.
Around town, the front end transmits a lot of road shock and the ride can be harsh and uncomfortable. At highway speeds, the suspension becomes more absorbent but it’s still pretty lumpy.
Not so long ago 150kW was genuine hot hatch territory and the 1.6 turbo certainly has enough performance to enjoy. It’s a touch laggy off idle but soon segues into a strong, smooth, responsive mid-range.
That said, the Hyundai gets around corners tidily enough, with a flat attitude, minimal understeer, fade-resistant brakes and decent grip.
Verdict: Can’t argue with the value, which extends to price, performance, equipment, safety tech and grief-free ownership. As a sports drive, though, it's not quite there yet.
The Hyundai i30 SR Premium.