2008 Hyundai i30 CRDi Auto First Steer
- words and photography by Anthony Crawford
It’s been a while since l attended the Australian launch of Hyundai’s (pronounced – hee-unday) own smart car – the i30, and I had forgotten just how good this car really is.
However, there is still a $2000 premium over the manual transmission diesel with the same spec, and frankly, it’s about time that all manufacturers selling cars in Australia, got with the program (as has the been the game plan in the US for the last thirty-five years) and provided an automatic transmission as a no cost option. The economy of scale would have to favour the auto box these days and therefore, make this possible.
And of course, there is still that nasty gap between diesel and petrol powered models, which in this case, is a substantial $2500 for the same spec car, with of course the diesel being the more expensive variant.
And diesel is having a strong effect on those sales. In May, sales of the i30 topped out at 768 and 51% of those sold, were diesel powered.
While the five-speed manual i30 CRDi gets along nicely due largely to the decent wallop of torque, that’s 255Nm from as low as 1900rpm through to 2750rpm, I was curious to see how the four-speed auto would fair.
The short answer is – very well. With so many small cars these days sporting at least five and some six-speed autos, you might forgive me for thinking that the CRDi auto might have been a rather dull experience against the manual version.
Let me explain frugal. To have this much grunt from a tiny 1.6-litre diesel is extraordinary, but to use only 6L/100km while accelerating up hills, is a substantial bonus.
Remember, this is the automatic version, the manual tranny CRDi will return a remarkable 4.7L/100km and that folks would require some serious distance driving to shift the needle of the full mark!
Acceleration from standstill is as rapid as its in-gear progress through all four ratios. Never does the car feel like it is struggling under the load. That’s the nature of most of the current Common Rail Diesel powertrains, but even this base model i30, complete with steel wheels, drives with a decidedly sporty character.
Prior to collecting the i30, I had been lucky enough to be behind the wheel of Lotus’s Exige S, but with some extra mumbo added to it. This a genuine 4.1 second surface to surface missile, that will leave a Porsche GT3 in its wake, at least in the tight bendy sections. It also has the best steering set up of any road-registered car I have ever driven, and we haven driven few here at Car Advice.
My point is the steering feel in the i30 is superbly weighted, even at dead centre when many small cars are overly assisted and lifeless.
Quality at a budget price comes to mind. For example, the basic cloth seats are both comfortable and supportive. These are pews you could travel long distances in, no question.
And there is no shortage of room. This is a car that can carry five adults in relative comfort with more rear legroom than many cars twice its size.
It’s a clever design all round, even the front doors open wider than any other small car on the market, allowing for easy access for older folk or those with problematic or arthritic limbs.