Damien O’Carroll finds that the new i30 certainly deserves attention.
When Hyundai launched the first i30 back in 2007, it was pretty much the car that announced to the world that the “learning” stage was over for Hyundai and it was well and truly ready to make world-class products that could easily take on the competition – mainly the Japanese manufacturers – on an equal footing, without any price advantage to make up for a perceived lack in quality.
Now we have a third generation i30 and this time Hyundai is determined to show that it can make something to take the fight right up to the Europeans in the small car segment.
Prices have remained stable within the i30 range and, despite significant extra equipment in the new vehicles, remain the same across all models.
The entry level i30 kicks the range off at $35,990, while the Elite lands at $39,990.
The Limited tops the range at $43,990. All models come standard with either a six-speed automatic (entry and Elite) or a seven-speed dual clutch (Limited) transmission.
The entry car and the Elite are both powered by the same 120kW/203Nm 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol engine hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Hyundai claim a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.4L/100km for both.
The top-spec Limited gets the company’s new 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre inline turbo petrol four-cylinder engine hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with Hyundai claiming 7.5L/100km for the more powerful engine.
The entry car gets 16-inch alloy wheel as standard, as well as an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, a rear view camera with rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, a tyre pressure monitoring system and heated electric side mirrors.
The Elite adds 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, rain sensing wipers, keyless entry and push button start, dual zone climate control, an electric parking brake and heated front seats with 10 way adjustment on the driver’s seat.
The Limited takes all of this and then adds 18-inch alloy wheels, leather sport upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights and taillights, heated and ventilated front seats, a remote window close function and Hyundai’s new SmartSense safety package that includes radar cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and a driver attention alert.
Just going off the obvious styling cues alone, Hyundai is clearly targeting the small Europeans with the new i30 and, it has to be said, they have come tantalisingly close.
While the top spec Limited sits right smack in line with the Volkswagen Golf R Line in terms of pricing, it is more quicker and more powerful than the Golf and also out-muscles it in the equipment department.
Where the i30 doesn’t quite match up to the European opposition, however, is lower down in the range.
The drab interiors, more obvious plastic and the fact that the 2.0-litre engine is capable and competent, but far from exciting means that the i30 still has a way to go before it can knock the Euros off.
That said, it is still likely to be one of the better cars in the small segment when lined up alongside the rest and handily takes it to the Japanese opposition, as well as nipping happily at the heels of the Euros.
Well priced, highly equipped, good looking and great to drive (particularly in Limited form), the Hyundai i30 certainly deserves attention.