7 / 10
2009 Hyundai i30cw Diesel Review & Road Test
The perfect example of a diesel family wagon
– by Rose Harris
There was once a time when the mention of diesel bought only negative connotations of dirty, smelly, oily vehicles with truck-like handling to my mind and I would have never dreamed of choosing a diesel-fuelled vehicle as my family car.
But times have changed and the Hyundai i30cw CRDi wagon is the perfect example of how refined diesel cars have become and how easily integrated into everyday life they can be.
In fact driving the i30 CRDi, which I tested in both automatic and manual guise, it was hard to pick the car from its petrol counterpart. Only when I heard the echo of the deep diesel rumble or waited that few seconds for the coil light to go off was I reminded of which pump I must stop at at the next refuelling station.
The sluggishness and rough handling I expected was nowhere to be seen. Rather I was driving a quiet, smooth vehicle and by the end of my test run, having driven the full complement of i30 wagons, I actually preferred the SLX and SX with the common-rail, direct-injection, intercooler with variable geometry turbo, over the petrol model and had completely changed any negative feeling I had toward diesels.
Economy is simply amazing. The computerised fuel uptake estimate in the automatic SLX rarely went over 8.0 litres per 100km and spent most of its time at 6.5 litres. I tested both in stop-start city traffic as well as a long country run, mostly in windy and rainy conditions. After starting with a full tank the fuel light eventually flicked on at 596.5 km.
I had clocked up more than 600km when I hit the bowser, and was pleasantly surprised when the small country town pump clicked off at $50, taking 40.65 litres. That gave me my own combined fuel economy figure of around 6.7 litres per 100km, not far off the manufacturer figure of 6.0 litres per 100km in the automatic.
The manual SX I didn’t test as long so was unable to get some good kilometres on it, but fuel economy was obviously even better for the time I had it, the manufacturer puts the figure at an amazing 4.9L/100km.
Whichever way you look at it, the economy of the i30cw CRDi is hard to go past. I have already mentioned the many family features the wagon boasts in my Hyundai i30cw Sportswagon review. This time around I tested the next model down, the SLX in the four-speed automatic and the bottom-of-the-range SX in five-speed manual.
The manual transmission is only offered in the SX which I feel is a bit disappointing. I loved the transmission in the SX, and it would be great to have that option combined with the extra features of the SLX or Sportswagon, and of course the further reduced fuel economy that comes with the manual transmission.
The five-speed manual transmission in the SX was direct and accurate. I enjoyed the driving experience with the manual and it injected more fun into this sporty wagon. I would like to see the manual transmission offered in the upper models. The manual version did have increased engine noise at the initial start-up, but certainly ran just as smoothly as all the rest.
It has lift-up-gate reverse gear selection which did make for some initial embarrassment in the Hyundai carpark, but thereafter I never had an issue with it. I actually preferred it, as there was no guessing if reverse was engaged, grinding to find it or selecting it accidentally.
Driving in the wintery conditions, I can also vouch for the front and rear wipers and front and back demisters, all worked perfectly.
Overall, the SLX is a neat, stylish model and just like the Sportswagon it is hard to fault.
One sticking point I did find in the wagons was the absence of rear air-conditioning vents. While the kids never seemed uncomfortable, I did find it strange that the rear seat was without its own set of vents which would come in handy on those really hot days, especially given that the rear seat does seem to get a fair bit of direct sunlight. They are equipped with heat ducting to the rear seat floor.
The full range of i30 wagons come with ESP and TCS as standard which means safety is never compromised in the vehicle. It feels like a safe car to drive and one I was happy to strap my kids into.
I tested the SLX through some pretty heavy rain and wind and I didn’t once feel as if I was going to lose control. The steering is very direct, more than I expected.
Having a ‘traditional’ wagon as our family car, I would start to take a wide circle in the i30cw only to be surprised at how quickly the car would turn. Both the SLX and SX have a turning circle of 10.34 metres.
The CRDi, thanks to the VGT, didn’t carry any noticeable turbo lag and hills weren’t a problem, in both the auto and the manual. The diesel wagons obviously come with a lot more torque over the 2.0-litre petrol model, with 255Nm available between 1900-2750rpm.
The SLX had the cargo barrier fitted, a great feature which further amplifies the versatility of this vehicle. At first, it was quite distracting having the cargo barrier in the rear vision mirror, but it was only a matter of time before my eyes became trained to looking through it and before long
I didn’t even notice it, so I can’t complain about the barrier impeding visibility. The SX doesn’t come with the cargo barrier as standard, but it is available as an option.
Climate control is standard in the SLX and Sportswagon and is very simple to use. The large ‘auto’ and ‘off’ buttons along with the easy to read LCD screen make sure occupants are always comfortable. In the SX the climate control system is replaced with two standard air-conditioning knobs that are also just as simple to operate.
Forward visibility is fantastic, the windscreen is quite large, that combined with the skinny front pillars, it gives almost a panoramic effect.
Out the back, there is some vision blocked with the wide rear pillars as is often a problem with hatchbacks and wagons. It is more a danger of blocking pedestrians or cyclists than other cars but using the heated power side mirrors and the reverse sensors to their full potential overcomes most problems.
The SLX has steering wheel controls, more trip computer options, chrome trim, alloy sports pedals, 16 inch alloy wheels, reverse parking sensors, extra speakers, illuminated ignition keyhole and climate control over the SX.
However, all that being said, the SX still doesn’t scream bottom-of-the-range. Hyundai has put in a big effort to ensure SX drivers are comfortable. The basic cloth seats might be without lumbar support and the added mesh comfort, but they still have a modern design and overall the interior remains neat and functional.
I did miss the revese sensors in the SX, the sensors are standard on the two upper models. I had become quite accustomed to that extra reassurance when reversing; they are an optional extra on the SX.
In fact, speaking of options, if I was to go out and buy an i30cw wagon, I would probably go for the SX simply for the manual transmission and option it up with a few extras.
The full range comes standard with an aux/USB audio input. The Apple software in the audio input automatically loads iPod data into the LCD display and makes the steering wheel controls active.
This is located in the very well thought out centre armrest. It has two compartments as well as a document holder inside the top lid and even a slot especially for the iPod cord so the cord doesn’t obstruct the closing of the armrest lid and doesn’t get damaged, now that is clever thinking. Its things like that which make for an overall neat and functional interior.
So let’s talk about space. Why would you go for the i30 wagon over the hatch when, on paper, it offers only 75 litres extra space. As I stated in the Sportswagon review, I was initially skeptical of this. However, the i30cw constantly surprised me with what it could hold.
One of those surprising moments included a port-a-cot, several bags and a three-year-old’s bike (complete with training wheels) packed into the SLX boot, with space to spare and rear window visibility.
Sure, I’d love even more space in the i30, you can never have enough space when it comes to families, but that compromise between storage space and the city-accessible, easily parked car has to be struck. I would rather lose a bit of space and still be able to swing into any available park.
To me it is the best of both worlds, a lift-back with cargo barrier that can be stacked to the roof all in a car that doesn’t need to be parked at the other end of the shopping centre and is, above all, affordable.
While we are in the boot, there are several little storage recesses hidden under the boot floor. All available space has been opened up and makes for great places to stash tools or the cargo net when not in use. There is also a 12volt outlet and two bag hooks in the rear cargo area. The fob key also has a remote boot release button when you have arms full of shopping.
For me the i30cw is a great wagon for the small or growing family with the diesel option the icing on the cake, especially for families on a tight budget. A very worthy 4.5 out of 5.
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