It’s an interesting strategy by Hyundai, dropping the Elantra from its range and replacing it with the i30 Sedan. It’s not as silly as it might seem, though, the Elantra ostensibly an i30 Sedan in all but name.
The problem for Hyundai lay in the sales race, an all-important marker of success. Whereas archrival Toyota Corolla counts both sedan and hatchback sales under the one overarching nameplate, there was no such conjoining for Hyundai’s i30 Hatch and Elantra sedan.
That all changes now, with the new i30 Sedan set to join its hatchback sibling on the sales charts. Will it be enough to knock the Corolla off the top spot? Time will tell, but the race for supremacy in the small-car segment will be closer than ever before.
The good news for Hyundai is it’s bringing its A-game to the fight, the new i30 Sedan offering a decent level of equipment wrapped inside a stylish and sleek package.
The Hyundai i30 Sedan range comprises four trim levels, with two different engines and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Pricing starts at $24,790 before on-road costs for the entry-level Active with manual gearbox and reaches its zenith with the $37,290 N Line Premium.
In between, the auto-only 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan Elite is priced at $30,790 plus on-road costs, placing it squarely in the middle of the i30 Sedan range. It’s the car we have on test here.
It’s a tough segment it plays in, though, with the top-selling Corolla available from $23,895 plus on-roads all the way up to $34,195. Similarly, the Mazda 3 sedan range gets underway at $25,590 and tops out at $40,490.
|2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan Elite|
|Engine||2.0-litre, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol|
|Power and torque||117kW at 6200rpm, 191Nm at 4500rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.0L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||8.9L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||474L / n/a|
|ANCAP safety rating||Untested|
|Warranty||5 years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Honda Civic|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$30,790|
First impressions are important, and in that regard the i30 Sedan is a winner, its sleek lines and sharp creases looking good from any angle. That wide cascading grille looks sleek, too, framed by an angular headlight design (halogens) incorporating LED daytime running lights.
Out back it’s much the same story, with sharp creases and lines all blending together for an athletic and modern take on the small sedan.
There’s not a lot wanting in terms of the equipment list either, the i30 positively loaded with standard inclusions even in this modest specification sitting on just the second rung of the i30 Sedan ladder.
Standard highlights include: 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless phone charging, satellite navigation with live traffic updates, a Bose premium eight-speaker sound system, DAB+ radio, a 10.25-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital driver display.
Throw in dual-zone climate control, hands-free boot opening, heated and powered external mirrors, as well as ambient lighting, and the comfort and convenience list is starting to look pretty comprehensive, especially for a car asking for not much more than $30K.
Slide inside the cabin and you’re greeted by an interior belying the i30 Sedan’s pricepoint. The leather-appointed seats, finished in a very light grey, lend the cabin an ambience looking like it costs twice as much. There’s a pleasing symmetry to the i30’s cabin, with a nice mix of textures and materials throughout.
The new 10.25-inch touchscreen running the latest Hyundai user interface is miles ahead of the system it replaces, which really was starting to look dated and old, especially when compared to fresher competitors.
The perforated leather-appointed seats not only look the part, but are comfortable and supportive, and with decent adjustment to allow you to find the perfect driving position.
A leather-wrapped gear lever and steering wheel are par for the segment, but a 10.25-inch digital driver display isn’t. While it lacks the configurability of similar set-ups in more premium offerings, it’s still a nice focal point for driver information, and is crisp and easy to read.
The second row continues the theme set in the front, with supportive and comfortable seats, while also offering plenty of space back there in all key areas – toe, knee, leg and head room.
A fold-down armrest reveals a pair of cupholders, while separate air vents keep back seat occupants comfortable. A pair of ISOFIX child seat mounts can be found on the outboard seats, with three top-tether anchor points gracing the seat backs.
The seats fold in 60:40 fashion to free up boot space, which is generous for the class. With the back seats in play, the cargo area measures in at 474L, although Hyundai declines to provide a figure with the seat backs stowed away. And in something of a rarity, a full-size alloy spare wheel lives under the boot floor.
The i30 Sedan Elite is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine making 117kW at 6200rpm and 191Nm at 4500rpm. Sending those numbers to the front wheels is a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.
It’s a decent combination offering plenty of pep around town without being overly manic or unpredictable. Acceleration from standstill is linear and smooth, with none of the lag or, conversely, surge turbocharged engines can sometimes display. Instead, the i30 Sedan goes about its business effortlessly and quietly.
Rolling acceleration is adequate, too, although you’ll need to tap into those 4500rpm to extract the maximum torque. And that makes for a loud and thrashy overtake or on-ramp merge, somewhat marring the ambience inside the otherwise serene cabin.
Like the broader Hyundai line-up, the i30 Sedan benefits from the Korean brand’s local suspension tune, with the ride compliant, supple, and well suited to Australia’s less-than-perfect road infrastructure.
With MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam set-up at the rear, the i30 Sedan remains composed and controlled over even roughshod surfaces; a soft and cushioning ride that speaks to comfort. Kudos.
There’s an ease to the way the i30 behaves itself around town – spritely and agile, while soaking up bumps and imperfections in a way that makes you feel you’re driving something a whole lot more premium than a humble Hyundai.
The steering is perfectly suited to the i30’s likely habitat. It's light and precise, which makes for easy manoeuvrability around town. A turning circle of 10.8m kerb-to-kerb is about right for the segment.
Hyundai claims the i30 Sedan Elite will get by on 7.0L/100km of regular unleaded. Our week with the stylish sedan saw an indicated 8.9L/100km covering plenty of urban and highway kays. That’s a reasonable return in our eyes.
One question that remains around the i30 Sedan is its safety credentials. It remains, at this stage, untested by ANCAP.
The Elite specification does feature a full suite of safety technology as standard: autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive radar cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.
And while there are six airbags covering both rows, the i30 Sedan lacks a centre airbag, and that factor is likely to weigh against it under ANCAP’s ever more stringent side-impact testing criteria.
It’s worth pointing out the majority of vehicles on our roads don’t have the now critical centre airbags. However, it’s also worth pointing out the last four all-new vehicles to land on our shores – the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Kia Sorento and Toyota Yaris – do come equipped with centre airbags, which contribute to their 2020-stamped five-star safety ratings.
Hyundai covers the i30 Sedan with its standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty that's on par for the segment. Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and can be prepaid at time of purchase – $897 for three years/45,000km, $1196 for four years/60,000km or $1495 for five years/75,000km. In simple terms, it’ll cost you a smidge under $300 a year to visit your local Hyundai workshop for a check-up.
While questions remain surrounding the i30 Sedan’s safety credentials – Hyundai for its part has said, “We are confident in the safety of our vehicle” – there’s no question it has upped the ante in the small-sedan stakes. It’s at once stylish and comfortable, and in this Elite specification it comes with enough equipment to justify its $30K asking price.