Hyundai’s award-winning i30 hatch has been the darling of the small car market in recent times and now it’s added the strength of a family-appealing wagon to capitalise on what the Korean company believes is a trend away from SUVs.
Despite playing seriously in the SUV market itself, Hyundai says that market is showing signs of decline and believes that the small i30cw Wagon will make a serious move into the family-hauler segment with its more environmentally friendly footprint, including lower operating costs.
Once the staple of family motoring, wagons currently make up just three per cent of the local car market but recent additions, such as the Holden Sportwagon, have shown strong appeal with buyers who are becoming disaffected with the high running costs, and higher purchase costs of previously popular mid-size SUVs.
Hyundai marketing manager Oliver Mann says research shows that 35 per cent of four-wheel-drive owners never take their vehicle off-road, while a further 46 per cent hardly ever venture off the bitumen.
“That’s 81 per cent of SUV buyers who never, or hardly ever, take their vehicles off-road,” he said.
He added that smaller conventional station wagons had appeal because they offered versatility and space with relatively low operating costs.
The small wagon market has been somewhat neglected in recent years and the Hyundai i30cw (cw is the international nomenclature used by Hyundai for ‘crossover wagon’) Wagon will compete with the Holden Astra and Viva wagons and the Peugeot 308 wagon.
Its pricing is more closely allied to the Korean-built Viva but its quality and design, plus the fact that it offers a diesel engine, should take if closer to the Astra and Peugeot in the eyes of buyers.
The i30cw costs $1500 more than the i30 hatch across the range, with prices starting at $20,890 for the petrol manual SX version and $23,390 for the diesel manual. Automatic transmission is an extra $2000.
With a petrol engine power output of 105kW the i30cw is slightly down on the Astra’s output and a little smaller in dimensions but it has a substantial price advantage, as the Astra is $26,090.
Fitted with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, the i30cw produces 85kW of power at 4000rpm and 255Nm of torque between the engine speeds of 1900 and 2750rpm.
Hyundai director of Sales and Marketing, Kevin McCann, told CarAdvice that he expected the i30cw would make up about 15 per cent of sales, roughly 200 vehicles a month, and the split between petrol and diesel would roughly parallel the hatch at 60/40.
Specification on the i30cw also makes it obvious that Hyundai will target the fleet and business buyer, who wants an economical and versatile load carrier that can double as a family wagon.
There’s no shortage of features on the Hyundai with the i30cw SX offering all the features found on the hatch, including a five-star ANCAP safety rating, plus a cargo blind and luggage net, roof rails and a 12-volt power outlet in the rear cargo area.
The middle-of-the-range SLX model starts from $25,390 and gets the full compliment of six airbags, cruise control, climate control air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, more chrome and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
For a limited time Hyundai will also offer a ‘Sportswagon’ model, instead of the sporty SR Hatch model, priced at $29,990, which is currently a petrol-only model, is available in either blue or silver and has larger 17-inch alloys, steering wheel mounted audio controls, a leather interior and upgraded sound system.
Mr Mann said the acceptance of this model would be monitored and it may become a feature of the range, with the added option of the 1.6-litre diesel engine.
The i30cw is 280mm longer than the hatch, with a 50mm longer wheelbase that creates an extra 36mm of legroom in the rear, as well as more load space. Cargo capacity is up by 75 litres to 415 litres, with the rear seats up, and 145 litres, to 1395 litres, with the seats folded.
Hyundai says the luggage area will accommodate a full-size baby stroller or bicycle.
The wagon version uses a little more fuel than the hatch due to being 40-45kg heavier. The five-speed petrol manual wagon use 7.3 litres per 100km (7.7L/100km for the four-speed auto), and the diesel manual use 4.9L/100km (6.0L/100km auto).
Like the hatch, the wagon gets electronic stability control, traction control, anti-skid brakes, active headrests, and the SLX and Sportswagon add driver and front passenger side (thorax) airbags and curtain airbags, which are a $700 option on SX models.
Hyundai is expecting much from the i30 range this year, especially as it will be joined in a few months by the smaller i20 and possibly later still by the even smaller i10.
Hyundai Motors Australia CEO Steve Yeo told CarAdvice that the solid sales of the i30 during last year had been constrained by supply issues but these were now resolved with a factory in Europe taking over production of the i30 for that market.
He said the 1240 units sold in February was closer to the expectations he had for the i30 and he expected this would be built on further in the future.
On the road the i30cw drives pretty much like the i30 Hatch, which should come as no surprise seeing as they share much, including engines and suspension.
Our drive in a top of the range i30cw Sportwagon with petrol and auto proved that the Korean company has another hit on its hands.
The car handles well, and the only real difference, some extra length has translated into nothing more than space where it is needed, in the rear seat area and the load space.
Handling is almost identical to the hatch and while the Sportwagon has a slightly firmer ride this is mostly due to the choice of tyres made by Hyundai Australia, which were explained as a compromise between ride and a sportier feel.
Hyundai resisted the temptation to tinker with the suspension set up on the Sportwagon, wisely deducing that the buyer will be looking more for the show than the go in this segment of the market.
Pounding over a mixture of freeways, New South Wales’ rural roads and even a bit of unsealed road we found the ride, handling and the solid feeling of the fit and build to be just what we’ve come to expect from Hyundai, in a word top-class.
Dry or damp conditions made little difference to the way the i30cw progressed over these roads, the major downside being the lack of at least one extra cog in the auto gearbox, which leaves the petrol engine version either a little breathless or revving very hard when presented with a steep incline.
We didn’t get to drive a diesel powered i30cw on the launch as they were in short supply but past experience has shown this to be the engine of choice in the i30 range and we would suggest with the extra load capacity on hand in the i30cw that it would certainly be the option to tick.
A full appraisal of the Hyundai i30cw will be coming up in the next few weeks once we get our hands on a car for an extended test.