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The Hyundai i30 diesel has been awarded Best Mid-size Car under $30,000 in the 2009 Australia's Best Cars Awards.
A Hyundai i30? Sounds European and the name is certainly different to all the small Hyundai's - Getz, Elantra, Accent etc. sold in Australia. In fact the new i30 has some European pedigree as its been designed in Europe, and like all new Hyundai products is up a class in terms of quality. It will sell alongside the ageing Elantra sedan and at present is available only as a five door hatch.
Two engines are available - a two litre petrol engine, developing a respectable 105kW of power at 6,000 rpm and a 1.6 litre turbo diesel producing 85kW of power at 4000 rpm and a hefty 255Nm of torque available from between 1900 and 2750 rpm.
Three models are available in the new line up, the base SX [tested], mid-specced SLX and the top of the range SR which is only available with the 2.0 litre petrol engine.
Pricing starts at $18,990 for the SX manual with a 2.0 litre petrol engine. The SX CRDi turbo diesel is an additional $1960 - priced at $21,490. The only diesel powered vehicle close to the i30 is the Fiat Punto 1.3 turbo diesel, priced at $23,990. Closer competition size-wise starts with the Volkswagen Golf TDi Trendline at $27,990.
The entry level SX comes with a high level of standard features. Petrol and diesel versions come standard with airconditioning, power windows, electric door mirrors that are also heated, tilt and reach adjustable steering, driver's seat height adjustment, remote entry with alarm, ABS brakes and dual front airbags. Also a first for a car in this segment is iPod connectivity, via a port in the centre console, as well as a USB compatible CD player with four speakers.
One body style - a five door hatch, designed in Hyundai's German design studio, is available. Good use is made of the available space - front and rear passenger room is generous and all doors are wide opening. The centre console is split into two levels to provide a reasonable amount of storage, plus two cup holders. There are a couple of smaller hidey holes in the dash plus map pockets in the backs of the front seats. The rear luggage area has a flat floor, and when the rear seats [a 60/40 split fold] are folded, there is almost 1.5 metres of cargo length available. The iPod/USB compatible audio function is a welcome addition.
Seat comfort thankfully has improved with the i30. Improved bolstering on the seat base and back rest support the driver snugly, especially when cornering. Rear seats were a little flatter and firmer.
With tilt and reach adjustable steering plus a height adjustable drivers seats, it's easy to find a comfortable driving position. With over a metre of available head room taller drivers shouldn't have a problem. Poorly located controls, like the handbrake lever that was perilously close to the manual gearlever in the older Elantra, have been sorted, and the whole design seems well thought out. Minor irritants like the audio controls on the dash instead of the steering wheel (SX only) remain. Dash instrumentation is clear and easy to see day and night.
The SX is fitted with dual front airbags and ABS. Front seat head rests have an anti whiplash function built in and rear seat positions all have headrests. An optional safety pack is available - Hyundai call it the 'Protectz Pack'. It includes Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Traction Control System (TCS); plus additional front side and curtain airbags. On the SX it's an additional $1790. On the SLX it's $990 which also has side and curtain airbags fitted as standard.
The new Sonata, launched in mid 2005, heralded the improvement in Hyundai's build quality. This has continued with each new model and inside and out the new i30 displays a level of finish equal to anything in its class.
Security consists of an engine immobiliser, an alarm and auto lock doors that activate once the vehicle is moving. NRMA Insurance gives the i30 a security score of 60 out of 120 which is average for class.
ADR government fuel consumption figures for the 1.6 litre turbo are 4.7 litres per 100km. It's been reported that highway consumption can get as low as 3.7 litres per 100km but on test we didn't get near that recording 6.6 litres per 100 km (although we had a strong headwind for most of the trip).
The 1.6 litre twin cam 16 valve diesel develops 85kW @ 4000 rpm with the assistance of a variable vane turbo. Torque is 255Nm, available between 1900 and 2750m rpm. Matched to a five speed manual transmission with a nice spread of ratios, the performance is surprisingly lively.
From a driveability perspective the i30 really shines, and with most of the torque spread available from 1900 rpm, you don't need to push it to get maximum performance. Use the engines torque and you'll be surprised how good the diesel experience can be.
Firmer than some of the previous soft efforts from Hyundai, the i30s ride quality is slightly firm with minimal body roll, but without the harshness of some imports.
Hyundai Executives claim the suspension and steering package for the Australian i30s are designed to better suit our conditions and after driving the i30 on a range of roads I would have to agree. Whilst the electro hydraulic steering feels a tad vague just off centre it's a huge improvement over previous models and provides a level of driver feedback that's been missing in small Korean cars. It's nicely weighted and not too light.
Handling wise the 1.6 litre diesel is fine. Using the engine torque and driving smoothly it's a more than capable vehicle. When pushed a little harder through corners, some mild understeer occurs but there's plenty of warning and adhesion levels are high.
Braking is handled by four wheel disc brakes. On the front are 280 mm ventilated discs while on the rear are 262mm solids. ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution [EBD] and Brake assist are standard across the range. On test the brakes worked satisfactorily with stopping distances slightly longer than best in class.
It's not that it's noisy, it's just a different type of mechanical noise you hear with the i30. It's a deeper sound on start up, but once underway there's little in the way of 'diesel clatter'. With an abundance of engine torque and light clutch and gearshift controls it's as smooth to drive as any of its petrol engined counterparts.
The new Hyundai i30 diesel is a real surprise packet with a freshness that's more than just the engine. The whole package has been well thought out and around town or on the highway it's a solid performer. Hyundais have always been a good value for money with class leading warranties. Now with this latest effort bringing improvements to build quality and chasssis dynamics it's the most complete package from the Korean manufacturer yet. Can't wait to try the auto version due out in 2008.
Test vehicle supplied by Hyundai Motor Co.
|Model||i30 SX CRDi|
|Body type||5-door hatchback|
|Price of vehicle tested||$21,490|
Diesel engine characteristics
Manual only option
|Country of manufacture||Korea|
SX manual petrol
SX manual: $18,990
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||1.5 L|
|Induction||Common rail direct injection|
|Claimed max power (kW)||85 kW @ 4000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||255 Nm @ 1900-2750 rpm|
|Spare tyre type||Full size|
|Type||Speed sensitive rack and pinion|
|Turns to lock||2.8 m|
|Turning circle (measured)||11 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||2025 mm|
|Fuel capacity||53 litres|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||60|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||5.4 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||7.4 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||8.5 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||12.2 secs|
|Average on test||6.6 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||72 metres|