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More Hyundai i30s are sold in Australia than in any other nation on Earth – so the updated 2015 Hyundai i30 Series II is kind of a big deal.
It’s the company’s biggest selling model – Hyundai sold 31,505 examples of the i30 in 2014, and has already sold 6316 to the end of March 2015. Indeed, it’s the country’s third-best selling small car behind the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3.
For this 2015 Series II mid-life update, the South Korean small hatchback has seen some major revisions, including a revised model line-up. Read our Hyundai i30 Series II pricing and specifications story here.
As part our first drive of the new-look model, we sampled the variant that Hyundai says will be the best-seller – the new Active X – and in the most popular powertrain derivation, the 1.8-litre petrol automatic.
That drivetrain is a carryover unit, and it remains a sturdy but unexceptional engine and transmission combination. There’s enough punch for most people’s needs (107kW/175Nm), as well as good off-the-line pep – but the engine can be thrashy and loud when you rev it beyond 4500rpm.
The six-speed gearbox never put a foot wrong on our test loop north of Sydney, holding on to gears at the right times and shifting back when it thought it needed to access more torque. It’s also willing to drop back two cogs on steep hills when the cruise control is engaged, too.
Claimed fuel consumption remains a little higher than rivals for the 1.8-litre engine (7.3 litres per 100 kilometres for the auto), though we saw an impressive figure of 6.4L/100km over 175km of mainly country and highway driving.
Hyundai has retuned the suspension on the i30 range as part of this update, and it brings the hatchback more into line with its sedan sibling, the Elantra. That is to say that it is a slightly firmer suspension setup that errs on the side of control rather than comfort over bumpy sections of road.
It dispenses with large bumps and dips in the road very well, but its wheels tend to transmit a lot of the smaller, sharper inconsistencies into the cabin, although not in a jarring or uncomfortable manner. Over terribly pockmarked, pothole-ridden surfaces, the level of composure that the i30 offers is exceptional. If you live in a place where the roads are rough, it’s worth taking one for a drive.
The steering – which has Hyundai’s three modes available: Comfort, Sport, and Normal – is much more involving as a result of the retune. It’s not as precise or malleable as, say, a Volkswagen Golf or Peugeot 308, but there’s definitely a nice compromise between directness and easy twirling – except if you put it in Sport mode, which dulls the sensation and adds extra resistance.
We also spent some time in the revised diesel Active variant.
The 1.6-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder has seen power upgrades of 4kW and 40Nm (with total outputs now 100kW/300Nm) in the revised auto version, which now gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in place of the old six-speed torque converter auto.
There’s only a slight amount of hesitation from standstill before the engine and gearbox team up to offer swift progress at city speeds.
That extra poke is noticeable when you accelerate hard, and the i30’s 1.6-litre remains a smooth-revving, relatively well refined diesel engine that isn’t as loud or clattery as some rivals.
The seven-speed dual-clutch certainly plays its part in the way the car uses that extra torque – it shifts down quickly and smoothly when more grunt is required, but will also amble along comfortably in seventh gear at 70km/h, with the odometer ticking over at just 1200rpm.
During out time in the diesel auto – in which we didn’t go easy on it – we saw fuel consumption on the digital display of just 5.1L/100km, which is only 0.2L more than the claimed figure.
The Active drove almost identically to the Active X variant, proving solid and composed.
Inside, the Active X is essentially a nicer version of the Active, with some extra inclusions such as 16-inch alloy wheels (Active has steel wheels), leather seat trim (Active has cloth) and 'premium' leather-feel steering wheel and gearknob (Active has plastic).
There’s no denying the Active X feels considerably more special inside than the base model Active, with the leather trimmed seats and steering wheel adding plenty of panache. In contrast, the Active feels like a base model – we’d thoroughly suggest extending the budget to the Active X if you’re in the market for an i30.
No matter which of the Active variants you choose, the addition of a new 5.0-inch touchscreen media unit, and the standard inclusion of a reverse-view camera (to complement the standard rear parking sensors), is very much welcome.
That media unit is a simple thing to use – the controls and menus are logically laid out, and the fact the new screen includes internet radio connectivity through the Pandora app brings the i30 up to date. It also does away with the CD input – a sign of the times.
If you want a CD slot (and a bigger, 7.0-inch screen with satellite navigation) you need to buy the SR, SR Premium or Premium variants – but, oddly, they don’t get the extended app-based Bluetooth connectivity.
The i30 remains a competitive offering in the segment in terms of space and comfort.
There’s adequate legroom and headroom in the rear seat for two adults, or three smaller occupants, while up front everything is logically placed and easy to use for either the passenger or the driver.
There’s plenty of loose item storage through the cabin, including big door pockets with bottle holders, and the boot luggage capacity is among the better examples in this class at 378 litres with all seats in place. That expands to 1316L with the rear seats folded down.
Hyundai’s excellent five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty remains among the most impressive available, while the brand now has a lifetime capped-price servicing program. Over the first five years or 75,000km, the 1.8-litre costs an average of $269 per annum/15,000km, while the diesel averages out at $311 per annum/15,000km.
On the whole, the 2015 Hyundai i30 Series II improves on what was already a solid proposition in the cut-throat small car market. It wasn’t bad to begin with, and the range of changes the brand has introduced manages to breathe some new life into the five-door hatch.