We’ve all seen those government sponsored public announcement videos, right? Okay, perhaps not in South Africa, but most definitely the ones you’ve seen have come from either the US or South Korea, they love them over there. Visiting South Korea is like being in a life size public announcement video that is always playing. The florescent smiles of the actors, the painstakingly rehearsed and sometimes strained dialogue and a constant reminder of the corporate sponsors sign never far away. It takes some getting used to for a South African. I was In South Korea at the beginning of this year to visit Hyundai’s R&D centre, one of its manufacturing plants and its brand new steel plant; the only auto manufacturer in the world to have its very own steel facility.
The very same steel produced at that factory is what you will find in the new Hyundai i30. You probably won’t get the sense of it just from the pictures, but the i30 is very substantial to sit in and interact with. Even the smaller engine, 1.6-litre I have as my test unit is by far and away the most substantial car I’ve driven from the Korean manufacturer. Substance can be found in the little things like the door thud on entry and exit; the quality of the standard sound system, it is all top class from Hyundai now. The i30 builds on the design style common to all Hyundai products these days. The ‘fluidic design’ is meant to mimic water cascading over strength and the frontal treatment features a large, under priority, hexagonal grille, flanked by the stretched headlight cluster and lower fog lights. The rear styling is, much like the front, a coalescing of several different lines around the tailgate. My 1.6 test unit only has 16-inch wheels, which look a bit lost against the curvy metal. For some, the i30 may indeed be too fussy a design exercise, but I on the other hand think it is well executed and shows growing confidence from Hyundai.
On the inside the i30 feels every bit the part of its ‘premium hatchback’ billing. I love the Volkswagen Golf because as soon as you step into the cabin you instantly feel comfortable with all the controls falling perfectly to hand. I feel exactly the same in the new Hyundai i30. The fascia of the central dashboard has strong horizontal lines that incorporate the air conditioning vents and house the blue backlit, audio system interface and climate control buttons below. The specification level of the 1.6 GLS is high with climate control; cruise control; Bluetooth connectivity; front armrest; USB / MP3 player audio system and electric folding side mirrors. I particularly enjoyed the new graphics on the multi-function interface and the requisite melodic tunes that play when you enter or exit the car. The driver dials are easily legible blue numerals with white lit needles and chrome edging. The soft touch materials used throughout the cabin are a welcome improvement even over the 2012 Car of the Year winning Hyundai Elantra.
Space-wise the i30 is longer and wider than the old model and the luggage capacity of the boot is 10% bigger at 378-litres and that is without stealing room from rear passenger space. Safety equipment includes ABS, ESP, VSM (vehicle stability management) and six airbags, which allows the i30 to attain a five star Euro NCAP rating.
Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre unit features Continuous Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and the engine is mated to the standard 6-speed manual gearbox. The engine itself felt like it needed some extra running in time. Something we find quite common on Korean brands with mileage less than 1 500 km, like our i30. The 1.6 is said to produce 95 kW and 157 Nm, with a claimed average fuel consumption of 6.4 L/100km. We did manage to achieve close to that figure on the open road. The engine felt keen to rev and best exploited by holding it in a low gear. Except for a slight hesitation around 4 000 r/min, which we are sure will resolve itself with some more mileage on the clock.
Without any forced induction to help proceedings along, the driving experience is not blistering when you factor in the rather weighty body of the i30. What did impress is the rigidity of the body shell and precise steering. A button can be found on the steering wheel that adjusts the amount of power assistance and this shows that Hyundai are aware of the criticisms that they never steered that well. The car does roll quite a lot mid corner and front traction can be broken easily due to the eco-worthy Hankook tyres. The main improvement, however, is in the quietness and refined experience that the Hyundai i30 delivers.
The Hyundai i30 really is a serious premium hatchback now. It is totally befitting a brand that was ranked 8th in the top ten global car brands in 2010. With Hyundai’s overall ‘brand worth’ being valued at over US$8 billion.
What we like…
- The i30 is just so substantial for a Hyundai, even a premium one.
- The comfortable seats, rigid body and warning tones as you enter and exit.
What we would like…
- Some of the front detailing to be a little more subtle.
- A double clutch gearbox and turbo charged engine in Hyundai’s future.
|Base Price||R 229 900|
|Warranty||5-year / 150 000km|
|Engine Capacity||1 591 cc|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, In-line|
|Power||95 kW @ 6 300 r/min|
|Torque||157 Nm @ 4 850 r/min|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 10.5 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||6.4 l/100km (claimed / combined)|