Fancy being able to drive a mid-size wagon more than 1012 kilometres on a single tank of diesel, and in thoroughly real world conditions?
By real world, I mean no over inflated tyres, two robust adult passengers with plenty of luggage and supplies, liberal use of air-conditioning at all times, plenty of stop-start traffic, and maximum legal speeds throughout the entire journey from Sydney to Brisbane and then some.
While there’s no denying that we definitely thought about using those tricks of the trade, which help to achieve those much publicised and impossible distances on one tank of fuel, but we felt that would be meaningless to the average driver, so in the end, we chose to drive the car in the same conditions as anybody else would.
I suppose the only liberty we did take with this super economy challenge, was leaving the house at around 5.30am on Friday, to beat the peak hour out of Sydney, but that’s an option any driver may wish to exercise.
It’s a long drive from Sydney to Brisbane in anything but a Rolls Royce Phantom with the DVD screen in full high definition mode, the audio system on surround, and the chauffeur doing the driving.
But in a base model, manual transmission wagon, you could be excused for feeling a little down given the distance of the trip, unless of course it had an i30cw badge on the rear tailgate.
Hyundai’s i30 hatch was a runaway success from the moment the car was launched, although the real sales momentum kicked in when the motoring press unanimously stated that this was a seriously good package with superior materials and build quality to rival anything from Japan in this small car segment.
Then the word of mouth advertising machine fired up, with i30 drivers raving to family and friends how good the car was to drive, and the Korean juggernaut has never looked back.
The sales figures now speak for themselves, with Hyundai selling more than 2000 i30’s in August, and a total of 5980 cars for the month.
We stopped in at the Hyundai dealership in Coffs Harbour, and the manager said to us that the only thing slowing sales down is supply as dealers just can’t get enough vehicles.
The i30cw Wagon is simply more of a good thing, especially the diesel powered CRDi version, and especially at $23,390, which is the manufacturer list price.
It might be the base model diesel in the range, but you won’t want for anything except perhaps cruise control. That said it wouldn’t be at all helpful on the Pacific Highway, as you attempt to run the gauntlet of an impossible number of different speed signs that confront drivers on this woeful excuse for a highway.
The iPod connectivity, which allows you to control your music through what can only be described as a premium sound system, is a welcome addition on a journey such as this, although you will need to buy the special cable ($75) that connects the two media players, not much to ask really.
Sadly you don’t get remote audio function on the steering wheel, which would be nice, but for a base model I’m not complaining, just wishful thinking.
Another item in the i30 package that deserves considerable praise is the seat comfort, especially the front row pews.
It’s most unusual for a vehicle within this segment to have seating that provides this degree of side bolster and general all round comfort. The seat trim is also a quality yet durable fabric that wouldn’t feel out of place in cars costing twice this price.
It was pitch black and raining as we made our way towards the Sydney to Newcastle freeway, but not before we topped up the fuel tank and reset the trip meter in readiness for our non-stop, Sydney to Brisbane challenge.
I drew the first driving stint, but it was agreed that we would adhere to the obligatory two hour shifts, and with enough home made food and beverage supplies on board we wouldn’t need to spend more than a few minutes at each driver change point.
Its been a while since either Alborz Fallah or I have behind the wheel of an i30 CRDi, but the one thing that impresses you the moment you stab the throttle, is the immediate punch this diminutive 1.6-litre diesel engine delivers.
You can hear that ever so faint whistle from the turbocharger with the slightest of throttle inputs, but turbo lag is not something you need to worry about in any variant of the i30 diesel range.
What impresses most is how well this i30cw wagon pulls from such low revs in any of its five forward gear ratios, with third gear providing rapid in-gear acceleration, even on a steep incline.
On the highway between Sydney and Newcastle you could pretty much cruise in fifth gear for the entire leg, with the exception of a couple of long gradual climbs near Gosford that may require a shift down to fourth if you don’t have quite the revs up.
After a couple of hours behind the wheel, we both agreed that the i30 could benefit with a sixth gear ratio, purely for highway mode with an eye towards even greater fuel economy, but again, manufacturers can’t afford give you all the goodies in their base model cars.
Windows up, and air-conditioning on, and you can’t tell there’s a diesel under the bonnet, which makes for a more comfortable trip and frankly you’d be mad not to buy the diesel over the petrol powered variant.
Plenty of room too as this is a mid-size wagon, in every sense of the word. While there’s lots of legroom, and ample width between passengers, it’s the extra headroom that will please the taller folks among us. That became evident when I hand-washed the car as I couldn’t reach the centre of the roof, such is the height of the roofline.
Alborz made the comment more than once that he thought the ride quality in the i30cw was as good as many higher prices hatches from Europe, and he’s not wrong.
There are some nasty potholes in many sections of the Pacific Highway and not once did we ever feel any jarring through the chassis, the car just absorbs these bumps without any fuss whatsoever.
Not only that, the i30 is a fun car to drive, with well weighted steering, which is more on the sporty side, and little if any body roll into corners.
This was an economy challenge in real world conditions all right but we were nonetheless careful not to get too enthusiastic with the right pedal and quite happy to sit on the more common 100km/h speed limit, despite being continually passed by other drivers.
Naturally, we were both eye-balling the fuel gauge continuously, as it seemed to take forever for the needle to finally move off the full bar.
In fact, we had travelled just on 197 kilometres before the needle shifted, which we were both more than pleased with considering we were travelling at the legal limit at all times.
There’s something quite refreshing about travelling within the legal speeds, you never have to watch out for police cars, and we saw plenty of those on our way up north.
Although we had left at the crack of dawn hoping to make good headway all the way to Brisbane there is simply no escaping the extensive road works that had us moving at Sydney peak hour pace over many, many kilometres.
We made Coffs Harbour in good time though, as this is close enough to the half way mark, with more than half a tank of fuel remaining, so things were looking good, so far.
Problem is, you never want the needle to fall below half way point, as from there, it always seems to fall quicker than the first half.
Time wise, it looked as if we might make Brisbane at around 4.30pm although that would put us right in the middle of the Brisbane peak hour, which is every bit as bad as Sydney.
True enough, we drove past the turn off to my parents place at Terranora, just before Tweed Heads, with a quarter of a tank of diesel remaining and only 120 kilometres to go.
Sydney to Brisbane in the i30cw, was going to be a walk in the park, but what worried me, was that I then had to drive back to Tweed Heads after dinner.
We all know how the fuel gauge has a habit of dropping to empty in double quick time from the quarter full mark.
Alborz wasn’t too worried about my fate, he would be safe and sound at home, while I might be in harms way on the side of the freeway emptying our 4.1 litres of emergency diesel in the car, which I was hoping to avoid at all costs.
We hit Brisbane with 900 kilometres on the clock, and the fuel gauge was sitting between a quarter and empty, but we still had more than a few kilometres to go in peak hour, before we arrived at Alborz’s place.
Its now 11.30pm and the needle is sitting below empty, with another 56 kilometres to go and I’m now switching to extreme measures to ensure that I clock over our goal of 1000kms on one tank of diesel.
Believe it or not, there are quite a few long descents going south on this freeway, so I’ve resorted to driving at 80 just in case I wasn't going to make it.
Nearly there, but with all the drama and focus to achieve the magic number, I have missed the shot of 1000kms on the trip metre, it has rolled over and gone back to zero.
For a minute, I panicked and uttered quite a few expletives as I think to myself, how will I prove it, will they believe me?
I head up my folk’s driveway having travelled a distance of 1012 kilometres on a single tank of diesel, in ninety-nine percent real world conditions, with more left in the tank.
I hadn’t had to use the emergency supply, but in the end, we achieved what we set out to do, so I poured the 4.1 litres into the car anyway.
Perhaps, the i30cw would have gone another 20 or so kilometres, but then again, perhaps not.
To drive 1012 kilometres in a what is a good size family wagon, with two adults, loads of luggage, and at the legal speed limit with all accessories blazing away, says a lot for diesel power.
IT says even more for the i30cw as a quality package for a bargain basement price, and what must be considered a worthy class leader.
To add to Anthony's words, the car used about 55 litres of diesel to achieve the run, a little more than perhaps we were expecting, nonetheless, this was a real world test and we did everything we could to make it so, at least until Anthony started to panic with a few kilometres to go.
When I was behind the wheel, there was no coasting, taking it easy or babying it. I had no hesitation to drop to fourth or even third for hills or around bends.
As a car, the i30cw base model could really do with the trip computer, I can't suspect it would cost much more to add it in. Then again, I suppose for such a low starting price you can't expect that much.
During the whole trip, the music ran through my iPhone (controlled and managed entirely on the phone) and not only did that mean I didn't need a phone charger but it also stopped the pain of having to listens to Anthony's outdated garbage.
The i30cw has won enough awards now that it doesn't need anymore praise, but really, for a car this cheap to be able to make it from Sydney to Brisbane on one tank and then have some spare, is quite an achievement.
Yes, 1000+km in a diesel is nothing new, infact it should be expected and you can compare it all you want to European cars, but please, find me a European diesel with all the practicality, comfort, safety and standard equipment of the i30cw in this price range?