Hyundai i30 Review & Road Test

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Hyundai i30 Review & Road Test - why you should buy one

The Hyundai i30 has won more awards than anyone could've really imagined, Hyundai's reputation has had a massive turn around thanks to the i30.

I am not one who is all that fussed about everyday cars, I'd much prefer to drive around in an M3 convertible than a Hyundai i30. However once in a while one of those everyday cars begins to make a lot of sense.

About five years ago, I remember telling anyone who asked me about cars, to avoid buying a Hyundai. Cheap and cheerful - another way of saying cheap and dreadful. The Hyundai i30 has changed all that.

Sometimes it's hard to break out of your image mould. Companies such as Hyundai, Kia, Volvo and even to some extent, BMW and Mercedes-Benz suffer from a negative brand image.

On the one hand you've got car companies that suffer from a poor reliability image, and they range from Kia to Alfa Romeo.

On the other hand you've got car companies that make brilliant cars, but owners are generalised as being, as James May would say, 'cocks'. BMW and Mercedes-Benz are prime examples.

There is no denying that brand persona takes a good deal of time to change. Volvo has suffered from its boring, old-men-in-hats stigma for decades.

So much so that in Swedish, there is an actual saying which politely translates to - 'another old idiot in a Volvo'. This is a shame as Volvo has been building a variety of brilliant cars for some time now.

Think about it, if you were going to spend $50,000 on a European small-medium car, would you rather a German badge or a Volvo badge that comes with 'The Stigma'? Even if the Volvo was the better car.

Unfortunately in our brand conscious world, some would rather go with less features just to have the seemingly better brand.

Cars are similar to clothes in some ways. Designer shirts that cost upwards of $300 do pretty much the same job as a shirt from Target for $20, but many of us are still happily pay the $300.

It all comes down to marketing and building a reputation. This is why, then, that I've decided to discuss Hyundai and more specifically, the Hyundai i30 automatic diesel.

There has not been another car from a Korean manufacturer that has received so much praise worldwide. The Hyundai i30 is the sort of car you'd expect from the Japanese. It's very likely that if you replaced the Hyundai badge with a Mazda or Honda one, not many would pick it and sales would undoubtedly increase.

In January of 2009, the Hyundai i30 sold 975, during the same period Toyota Corolla sold 2763, Mazda3 sold 3124, Ford found 1346 new Focus buyers, Honda managed 1216 sales with the Civic and even Volkswagen sold 992 Golfs.

To put that into perspective, the Hyundai i30 outsold the Holden Astra (which is now nearing five years old), by just two cars.

What's wrong with this picture? Here you've got possibly the best car in its class. It has won numerous awards, been heavily promoted Australia wide, has the best warranty of any of the cars listed, yet, it's not making a significant impact?

Is it ugly? No. Is it lacking features? No. Is it the price? No. Nothing you can throw at the Hyundai i30 would tell you why it's not selling, except, the brand name.

Hyundai is an interesting brand. So much so that many analysts are predicting the Korean company to be the next Toyota in due course. Not that Toyota plans to give up the throne easily.

In Australia, Hyundai still suffers from a negative brand persona. Out of the 16,628 people who bought a small car (under $40,000) in January this year, only 7.3 per cent decided on the Hyundai (including 240 Elantras).

My aim is to tell you why the Hyundai i30 alone should be near the 10 per cent mark. Firstly, I need you to forget the Hyundai badge. If you have badge prejudice, just try a mental exercise and block it out for the remainder of this article.

Let's pretend for one minute that you had a choice between the i30, Corolla, Focus, Mazda3 and Astra. No brands, No badges. Not only does the i30 have the longest list of standard features, but it's available in diesel, with automatic or manual transmission, has one of the best warranties in its class (second only to Mitsubishi) and has been repeatedly shown to outdo its competition in all other ways by a variety of publications and reviewers.

Remember when you were a kid and you had to buy those Nike or Adidas shoes. The Reeboks just wouldn't cut it! Sure they were more comfortable and cheaper and would've probably lasted longer too, but you didn't want to walk around in Reeboks.

Well guess what? You're not a kid any more. Allowing brand prejudice to be a factor in your decision making is somewhat childish. Now I am not saying everyone should stop buying cars over $20, 000, but what I am saying is if you've got your budget set and you'd rather get less instead of more just because of a badge, it's time to have a think!

I know what you're thinking. You are worried your friends and family are going to ask you why you bought a Hyundai? Tell them, because it's the best in its class, has the most features, uses the least amount of fuel, has won every award in its segment and drives and handles competently.

Let's stop for one second. The Hyundai i30 diesel with manual gearbox uses 4.7 litres of diesel per 100km (6.0L/100km for the auto), do I have to keep going? The only car in its price bracket that can match that is the upcoming Toyota Prius! That car will be around $10,000 more.

I sat inside the Hyundai i30, plugged in my USB stick, adjusted the stereo and driving position, and for the entire week, I travelled more than 650km on the one single tank - and there was still some fuel left when I handed it back.

If you're thinking the Mazda3 diesel can match it, think again. Sure, it does 6.0L/100km as well but that's in manual! The Mazda3 diesel is not available in auto.

I am not going to keep telling you why the i30 is a great car. We have reviewed the car numerous times:

What I am going to tell you is why it's so important, especially in these trying times, we must be able to overcome what I like to call "brand-ego".

If you're looking at buying a similar car to the i30, it will do you a world of good to summon the courage to visit a Hyundai dealer. In fact you should read a review on every car you're interested in, all it's rivals and then go out and drive every single one of them before making a choice.

Even if you don't end up buying an Hyundai i30, at least you can be more satisfied with your purchase of another car. Ignorance may be bliss for some time, but it's not a form of satisfaction.

As I said some time ago when I reviewed the Volkswagen Eos, giving praise to a car is significantly more difficult than giving criticism.

Sure, the Hyundai i30 has its faults. Some don't like the rear, some don't like the heavy steering, some find the seats a little uncomfortable, but, as a package, the little Hyundai is hard to beat.

The reason I am writing this story is because in the week that I had the Hyundai i30 diesel two friends who had recently bought two of the other cars already mentioned, were taken for a drive in the Hyundai and were a little surprised by the Hyundai i30 package.

To save face they both still held on to the "well, at least mine's Japanese" mentality, but I could tell, deep inside, they were wondering if they'd made the wrong choice. You don't have to wonder, just go and test drive one.