With the small car market remaining fiercely competitive, and sales of the entire segment down in general (in favour of SUVs), the i30 finished 2017 23.8% down on its 2016 record that saw the previous generation take the bronze medal for its efforts.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the Detroit motor show this week, Hyundai Australia’s general manager of public relations, Bill Thomas, hinted the company was disappointed with current i30 sales, but the recent introduction of the entry-level ‘Go’ variant (pictured in red) should increase sales.
“[The] i30 isn’t going quite as well we would've hoped,” Thomas said.
“It’s partly to do with the introductory price for the Active model, which represents amazing value for money but still came in at a price point that was quite a bit higher than the model it replaced."
"The introduction of the entry-level Go variant at $19,990 could alleviate that issue to an extent - we'll have to wait and see how [the] Go goes," he added.
The previous i30 outsold the popular Mazda 3 on its way to third place sales finish in 2016, racking up an impressive 37,772 sales. Last year, the new i30 recorded 28,780 units, while there were 37,353 for the Toyota Corolla and 32,690 for the Mazda 3. The generational change for the i30 saw its sharp ‘$19,990 drive away with auto’ deals drop from the market, which no doubt have hurt its sales in the private segment.
Additionally, the i30 isn’t being helped by the likes of Holden, which recently forced thousands of Astra small hatches on the market, which are now being heavily discounted at dealers nationally, providing yet another price competitor to the i30.
It’s unlikely, though, that we will see heavy discounting on the i30 from Hyundai on the scale that we have seen in the past for some time.
“Remember that any car at the end of its lifecycle is easier to discount - we aren't in a position to do that to the same level with the new PD i30," Thomas added.
Meanwhile, Scott Grant, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor Company Australia, admitted some of the price positionings for new i30 at launch were to bring a more upmarket buyer, though it was constrained from the factory in producing a cheaper base model.
"With the new car, we went for a medium and higher grade strategy which brought in some new buyers from [Toyota] Corolla and Mazda  but we probably didn’t get as many of our heartland Hyundai people into the product as we would've liked," he said.
"When we first launched the car, the preceding 6-12 months when that car came to market, we didn’t have the flexibility in terms of spec for manufacturing that we had six months after launch. We had some packages, tight constraints, we couldn’t make that [base] model a reality."
"We didn’t really have that consideration. [For example] standardising navigation and alloy wheels was a spec that we were locked into, which we weren’t disappointed about, it attracted some new buyers, but it did mean that the price and profitability was more challenged," Grant added.
"Four months after manufacturing, we had a bit more flexibility and have another look at the line-up and the 'Go' was born."
Grant also confirmed there isn't much left in the i30 Go for Hyundai dealers to discount, suggesting that both Hyundai Australia and the dealers are 'pretty squeezed' on prices for the new entry variant.
The i30 Go - which starts at $19,990 in manual trim (plus on-road costs) - is expected to help kick-start sales for 2018, with a $1000 discount compared to the previous entry proposition (Active).
Key features of the i30 Go include automatic headlights, LED daytime-running lights, a rear-view camera, 16-inch steel wheels with a full-size spare, tyre pressure monitoring, cruise control, and power windows all around. Like the Active (pictured in blue), it misses out on autonomous emergency braking (AEB) but is expected to offer the tech as part of a safety pack option in the coming months for around $1750.
The 120kW/203Nm 2.0-litre GDi petrol engine is offered with a six-speed manual ($19,990) or a six-speed automatic ($22,290), while the 100kW/280Nm 1.6-litre turbo-diesel is available with a six-speed manual ($22,490) or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission ($24,990).