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Test model: Hyundai i30cw SX CRDi, 5-speed manual transmission - $24,390 (manufacturer's list price)
It’s easier loading my 7 year-old daughter’s mountain bike into the i30cw wagon; than it was in any SUV I’ve driven this year. I figure it’s the low load entry that accounts for this revelation.
Many of the soft-roaders with a manual tailgate operation, require a strong set of shoulders to lift awkward items such as bikes into the rear load area. Not so with the i30cw, my youngest daughter can manage the task on her own.
Easier still, is loading a couple of surfboards and all the gear for Sunday Nippers at the beach, despite the rain.
Remember, this is the base model diesel i30 wagon with a five-speed manual transmission and cloth seats, which we have had in the garage for close on three months now and I can tell you without any reservation, it will be sorely missed when we hand it back next week.
Despite the entry-level badge, (actually there is no variant badge on the car) the i30cw SX CRDi doesn’t feel like a base model car. Never has.
And it’s not any one thing I can rave about, it’s the whole package from Hyundai, everything about this car is above average.
Even the remote key fob is worth a mention. It’s well designed with smooth edges, chrome look inlays, but more importantly, it feels good in your hand and is lightweight for your pocket.
It’s this kind of seemingly insignificant attention to detail, that separates the entire i30 range from almost every other car in its class.
It’s no wonder that the Korean carmaker is trouncing the competition these days, with sales in Australia up a staggering 106 percent in October, alone.
To put that into perspective, overall vehicle sales for the month were down 11.7 percent against the same period in 2008.
That percentage increase, translates into some 53,906 cars sold by Hyundai in Australia this year, and they’ve got two months still to go.
And its not just the i30 that’s making waves, it’s the entire range from the iLoad to the Getz, almost every model in the range is selling like hot cakes.
Talk to any owner of a current model Hyundai, as I have done over the last few weeks, and they’ll tell you categorically, that they will be buying another.
Every driver I spoke with, that’s mostly i30 and iLoad owners, chose their vehicles based on the styling, fun to drive and the level of standard kit on board.
I’ve had exactly the same experience driving the i30cw wagon for the last three months, it’s more fun to drive that any base model econo-box has any right to be.
Just this morning, I dropped off my daughter to school, which just happens to be at the bottom of what must be Sydney’s steepest hill, and decided to see how the diesel would perform on this suburban Everest.
Halfway up in third gear, and I’m already doing our national speed limit, and this, from a 1.6-litre turbo diesel with a bucket load of mid-range torque.
When I say its fun to drive, I mean both the i30 hatch and wagon lean more towards a sporty drive, in that it feels both responsive and well balanced, and that’s with the stock standard steel wheels. Note, the alloys look decidedly better than these plastic wheel caps and are of course, lighter too.
The steering also has great feel and accuracy, not too light as to feel incommunicative, despite the steering wheel’s plastic composition, which I am not overly fond of.
Long term press cars allow us to both seek out problems and to confirm what we like about a car, in a variety of different driving situations.
Take the seat design in the i30 (front and back) the level of lumbar support and side bolster is reason alone to choose it over some competitors.
It’s the same story when talking ride quality, even over some of the roughest patchwork roads Sydney has to offer, the suspension soaks up any harshness that might be transmitted through the chassis.
But one aspect of the car that Hyundai may want to improve, is the level of tint applied to the side windows and windscreen, which is simply not enough.
The heat through the driver and passenger side windows even with an ambient temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, is too warm for comfort.
I had exactly the same issue with the seven-seat Kia Rondo, too much heat through the windscreen (due to its sharp rake) and side glass, exacerbated on our journey to the Gold Coast.
It’s an issue that could be easily fixed by spending a couple of hundred dollars on a heavier after-market tint application, but even better, if applied to the car on the assembly line.
Although the i30cw wagon only has a 53-litre fuel capacity, the additional range from the diesel engine makes that more than sufficient and well proven by our 1012 kilometre run to Brisbane/Tweed Heads, earlier this year.
This month though, I have averaged only 600km per tank of diesel, most likely due to absolutely no highway kilometres at all, and a complete disregard for fuel conservation in and around what is particularly hilly terrain.
That doesn’t concern me at all, as it still works out to just 8.8L/100km or 31.9 miles per gallon in the old school.
There’s also been a $1000 price rise with the 2010 model year i30cw SX CRDi wagon, due entirely to the four additional airbags on board, which I have no problem with given its five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Only after you loose the benefits and convenience of a wagon, where bikes, surfboards, and groceries, can be thrown in the back at a moments notice, do you realise that every family needs one.
Hyundai’s i30cw SX CRDi wagon punches well above its weight on so many levels that it is nothing short of a veritable bargain.