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The brand new Hyundai i30 is markedly improved, offering more space, more power and more overall quality than ever before.

12 Mar 2018


Let's be honest - Korean cars get a bad rep. Flimsy, boring, ugly, we've all heard these words thrown around before. And you know what? We can't readily disagree. Korean cars of old did often display these characteristics. However, in recent times, there appears to be a shift, most notable in the hiring of key figures from the big European brands.

Kia brought out the Stinger, a car that excited and impressed us greatly. Then there's the new Hyundai Kona, a crossover that punches well above its weight. And now, there's this brand new i30, the third generation of Hyundai's hatchback offering.

The sharp and stylish front end is headlined by the cascading grille

Can the good times continue to roll?

A new look

From the off, the new i30 looks visually appealing. Its combination of sharp lines and angular details is headlined by the cascading grille at the front. It's certainly more interesting to look at than you'd expect. Especially compared to its impossibly dull and uninspiring predecessor (visually, at least), the new i30 looks a whole lot more grown up.

It also looks a little bigger than your typical hatchback, because it is. Measuring in at 4,340mm in length, the i30 is actually longer than a Volkswagen Golf by 82mm.

There's reasonable legroom at the rear to comfortably seat three adults

Bigger and better

Due to the fact that it's fairly long for its class (with a 2,650mm wheelbase), the interior of the i30 feels quite spacious. More relevantly, it's comfortable, and feels thoroughly well-built.

However, you can definitely tell that it's been specced on the cheaper side (as compared to the Kona, for example). The 5.0-inch LCD infotainment screen looks almost cartoonishly small, especially since you have larger-than-necessary buttons flanking it on either side.

Other than that, equipment levels are decent enough. Dual-zone air-con, wireless charging, electric lumbar support on the driver side, auto cruise control and speed limiter - it's quite generous for a sub-$100k car.

The i30 has a very sizeable and deep 395-litre boot

The i30's boot, at 395 litres, is pretty sizeable. In fact, it's more than the Golf, the Ford Focus or the Mazda 3, and second only to the Peugeot 308 (which has an enormous boot of 470 litres).  

Forward and go

The i30 is motivated by a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine, which produces 138bhp and 242Nm of torque. It's a punchy enough engine, but you do need to get it working over 1,500rpm to feel the power.

When you do, it certainly pulls with verve and gets up to highway speeds easily enough, with ample torque even in fourth and fifth gears.

However, it's quite a turbo-dependent engine, meaning that there's basically no juice under 1,500rpm, most notable in gears one and two. This can be a little problematic when climbing up the ramps of a multi-storey carpark, for instance.

Too little gas and the i30 creeps up the ramp much too slowly. Too much gas and the car will surge forward a little too quickly. You just have to be a little more careful at very low speeds (under 10km/h), because the lack of progressiveness could catch out an inattentive driver.

The engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox

The ride is well-sorted and comfortable, with good pliancy capable of soaking up all but the biggest of bumps in the road. The chassis is also pretty taut. Thus, it's unfortunate that the steering lacks feel, even if it's well-weighted enough that helps to enhance stability around corners. 

The other small quibble we have is the driving position. The steering wheel can't be lowered enough for you to reasonably put the seat at its lowest setting, which means you do have to sit a little higher up than you'd prefer.

As far as fuel economy is concerned, we managed to get around 13.5km/L, which is respectable for an engine of this capacity. 

The 1.4-litre engine churns out a healthy 138bhp and 242Nm of torque

Moving up

The new Hyundai i30 was designed and built in Europe, and you can definitely tell. There's a certain solidness about the car, from the build quality to the way it drives, that definitely feels more upmarket than you'd normally expect from a Korean car.

So to answer our initial question, yes, the good times have continued on. For a sub-100k car ($93,999 as of 11th March 2018), the i30 is a practical and sensible hatchback that actually offers pretty good value for your money.

The new generation i30 is markedly improved from before, with a noticeable improvement in overall quality

Yes, it's a little on the bland side, but that's not really going to be a problem at all. After all, if you're looking for a more exciting drive and better quality of life, you're going to have to fork out more moolah for one of the European models. But if it's true driving excitement you're looking for, there is a certain i30 N headed our way later this year.  


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Car Information

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Price

: $96,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC Dual CVVT Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1353cc

Horsepower

:

103kW (138 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

242 Nm / 1500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9.2sec

Top Speed

:

205km/h

Fuel consumption

:

18.2 km/L

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