The Hyundai i30 has firmly established itself as a powerhouse in the sales race, securing the title of Australia's best selling passenger car for March, April and May of 2016. Those numbers can be at least partially attributed to attractive pricing campaigns, and with a new generation due to arrive at the end of the year, the deals are set to continue.
The petrol i30 hatch range kicks off with the base model Active from $20,990 before on-road costs, followed by the Active X from $22,090 - both of those have a 1.8-litre four cylinder engine - then the SR starts at $25,590 and the SR Premium rounds out the line-up priced from $30,590 plus on-road costs, both with a 2.0-litre four cylinder engine. All are available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Based on the offers available from Hyundai at the moment, you could get the SR for $25,990 drive away with free auto.
The 1.6-litre four cylinder diesel range includes the Active, Active X and Premium variants that range in price from $23,590 to $34,490 plus on-road costs and only available with an automatic transmission. The i30 isn't available as a sedan but you can get a wagon. The petrol engine comes in one spec, the Tourer, and both the Tourer and Tourer Elite specifications are available with a 1.6-litre diesel engine. The price ranges from $27,990 to $34,190 plus on-road costs.
The i30 SR is Hyundai's interpretation of a 'warm hatch'. Our test car is the one you'd look at if you wanted something a little punchier than the average i30, but didn't want to fork out for the top-of-the-range Premium trim level.
The SR launched in 2013, had a facelift in 2015, and in 2016 it's now available with Apple CarPlay as standard. However there's no denying it is getting a little long in the tooth, so the question is whether it is still competitive in this space? It's not a direct rival to something like the Volkswagen Golf GTI ($40,990) of course and sits more comfortably in the company of the Mazda 3 SP25 ($25,190), Holden Cruze SRi-Z ($27,140) Ford Focus Sport ($26,490) and Kia Cerato Si ($28,990) that recently went head-to-head with the i30 SR in our twin test.
The SR has chrome highlights in the grille, and a matte black lower diffuser on the rear bumper to distinguish it from the Active and Active X. Premium variants get chrome moulding on the belt line to differentiate them from the SR. The SR also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, LED daytime running lights and the side mirrors have LED side repeaters with LED puddle lights. Our test model is finished in 'Fiery Red' paint which adds $495 to the cost.
Inside the cabin, though nowhere near being awe-inspiring, is nicely finished and also neat and tidy in its layout. Storage is well catered for; there are bottle holders in the door pockets, 2 cup holders between the driver and front passenger, a deep square console bin, a slightly shallow glove box and a sunglass case in the roof.
The kicker though is the placement of two storage compartments in front of the gear shifter, which provide enough space for a phone, wallet and keys. There is a light behind each sun visor, but you have to physically hit the switch, they're not sensor activated. Not that that's a major problem, most people aren't that lazy!
The centrally located 7.0-inch touchscreen has radio, media, set up and phone buttons. In-built satellite navigation is only available with the Premium trim, however the SR and grades below get Apple CarPlay/Google Now for Android (via voice activation), which gives you access to phone based apps like maps, music and voice activated messaging. There are two 12V outlets under the dual-zone climate controls with AUX and USB points positioned in between..
The SR has a reverse view camera with rear sensors, which is great but the camera, though visually nice and clear, has a fish-eye effect. There are no options to change the view, so if the fish-eye is hard to get used to, tough. It makes the view look a little surreal, but certainly helps give you a little glimpse just around the corners to the left and right. There are guidelines that are extremely handy for parking however the noise of the badge on the rear opening and closing to reveal the camera gets annoying.
Silver trim adorns the dash and centre console but there is a lot of black plastic and the top of the dash has quite a strange, bumpy shape to it. The silver trim extends to the doors, which also feature a fabric inlay while the seats are nicely trimmed in cloth. They're sporty in shape and give you enough of a 'tucked in' feel to actually buy the sporty vibe. The headrests are tilt adjustable which is a bigger deal than it sounds, particularly for girls who wear their hair in pony tails or buns.
The steering wheel is a bit of an enigma in that it feels small, but doesn't actually look too small for the cockpit. There are buttons for volume, radio, phone pick up and answer, driver information like trip data, fuel economy and distance to empty, cruise control and the steering mode button.
Seated in the driver's seat, a quick check of mirrors and a head turn or two highlights the poor rear and rear three-quarter visibility. The slant of the rear windows, huge C-pillar, and small, narrow and high rear window all play a part in blocking a clear line-of-sight. Luckily the i30 range comes standard with the reverse view camera and rear sensors.
Speaking of the rear of the i30, second row passengers will be quite comfortable. Headroom is more than adequate and there's loads of knee room. Foot room could get a little tight depending on the type of shoes you're trying to tuck under the seat in front. The shape of the outboard seats does tend to angle shoulders inward and there's no arm rest or cup holders.
Two adults would be comfortable or three children would fare just fine. The middle seat is quite a bit higher than the outboard seats thanks to the shaping of the latter, but there's still enough head and knee room. There are no rear air vents, 12V or USB points, but there are netted map pockets on the back of both seats. The i30 manages to offer 378-litres of cargo space available for use, despite hiding a full-size spare under the rear floor. The volume expands to 1316 litres when the 60:40 split-fold rear seats are folded down.
The loading lip is thigh-high and there's a deep drop to the floor. The boot also has cargo hooks, a little side nook, a 12V outlet and shopping bag hooks.
The SR's 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine produces 124kW and 201 Nm, and is teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. There is an i30 Turbo in European markets, but we don't get it here in Australia. The Veloster SR Turbo is your best best if you're after a turbocharged petrol Hyundai. The automatic transmission is fast enough without being a sporting shift and is quite smooth around town at city speeds.
Hyundai specifically tuned the suspension and damper configurations for Australian roads as per all recent models. The i30 SR is different to most though, in that it got a more advanced local tune with re-valved dampers and bespoke front springs. The suspension felt supple and remained compliant over urban roads and the associated potholes, road joins and speed bumps. Get some speed up or punch around a corner and it has a flexibility to it that means it remains refined and composed. In fact, the i30 SR showed good body control around corners, feeling tied down. The whole platform is punchy without being genuinely fast.
Steering-wise the modes are a bit 'all hammer, no nail'. In comfort mode it's certainly lighter and would be the preferred mode when parking or around tight city streets, normal mode is exactly that, and it weights up a little in sport but don't expect too much.
Combined fuel consumption is a claimed 7.7-litres per 100 kilometres, however during our time with the car we recorded a figure of 11.2 which is a little higher than expected. The i30 comes with Hyundai's five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, lifetime service plan and roadside assist.
On the 'warm' spectrum, the i30 SR is at the lukewarm end of the scale, but it's well-equipped and a feasible option for those who want something a little spicier than the average small car. You can get a great deal on one right now, or wait and see if the new-generation will set the bar a little higher.