Let me just start this owner’s review with the disclaimer that value and practicality have, throughout the course of my life, made their way to the top of my priority list. When the time came to hand over my VW Up, I was adding performance to the list for the first time.
My budget of $35,000 and list of desires included the aforementioned items plus hatch, Android Auto, adaptive cruise control and auto, which left me with the Holden Astra RS-V with Touring Pack, Subaru Impreza 2.0i S and the Hyundai i30 SR as my shortlist.
Ultimately, the i30 came up trumps.
The reason for the Premium badge came down to comfort. The base SR did not have adjustable lumbar and I found the seat uncomfortable. They always find a way to upsell.
In the month that I’ve had the car, it’s been a solid performer. While the Hyundai is not going to win many design awards, I think it’s a handsome vehicle that isn’t offensive and the car’s function doesn’t suffer for its form.
The interior is well laid out, if slightly dull in design and colour, plus it seems like it’s been screwed together well. There are splashes of red in the seatbelts, stitching and around the HVAC controls, outer air vents and the starter button. Those red plastic details I’d happily swap for some brushed-alloy colouring though.
The tablet-style infotainment doesn’t bother me and the screen is functional and has some cool features. Annoyed with scrolling through AM, USB and AUX functions when cycling through input modes? Delete them from the list. Clever.
As a Queenslander who still has all the skin on my knuckles, I’m a firm proponent of the ventilated seat in our warm and humid weather. Likewise, the vents in the rear are necessary features. Heated seats will probably fail from lack of use however.
Wireless phone charging, a massive panoramic sunroof and good storage options are also nice-to-haves.
But (here comes the bit you were waiting for) it’s not perfect inside. As documented in other articles, the rear camera resolution is so low-res I keep expected a gorilla to start throwing barrels down the screen. The ‘leather’ of the steering wheel does not feel of good quality, and there’s some lift within the joins of said leather between the stitching that the guy at Hyundai said was “present on the other cars he checked”. Oookaay.
There’s only one USB port and it’s not a fast charger (neither is the wireless pad), and there’s no dedicated physical 'home' button around the infotainment screen – you can set the ‘star’ button as a home function however.
Voice-operation features are limited to your choice of smartphone’s mirroring system, as there isn’t one built into the stock head-unit. That means that the lack of an auto-completing search for the sat-nav is extra annoying, as you have to type the whole address in and hope you haven’t made a typo.
Through the fifth door there are handy hooks, a light and a split level – but fiddly – boot floor. A space-saver tyre is the price you pay for the convenience of that floor.
On the road, the car is actually really comfortable. They say this is the work of Hyundai’s team in Australia, and I’m happy to send them a muffin basket. Look, the 18-inch wheels are definitely going to let some of those bumps through the cabin, but it’s never unbearable. Heck, it’s not even slightly unpleasant.
No that annoyance lays 100 per cent on the shoulders of the transmission. Most of the time it’s fine, but it’s always when you need to get through that roundabout or cross through the traffic that the famous dual-clutch hesitation makes itself known, and hot-damn it’s a real get in the bin situation. It is also one part of the reason no muffin basket will be sent – the other is I don’t know where you buy one.
There are the three drive modes – Eco, one without a label that I will call Normal, and Sport. Eco mode has the effect of taking that sometime annoying transmission trait and turning it into the embodiment of a radio that can’t be turned off and only plays Andrew Bolt rants. The lesson is, don’t use Eco mode.
In Performance mode, the car holds its revs and it genuinely can get up and go. Leave it in a mode other than Performance and you’ll find some minor turbo lag. Combined with the transmission’s hesitancy, it can mean putting your foot down to compensate leads to a very sudden burst in acceleration. Thank goodness for the auto emergency braking then.
On paper, it’s one of the worst-performing cars in its class when it comes to use of fuel. However, it only needs 91RON, so that’s somewhat of a concession. You can use the Eco mode to assist, but if you do, you’d better like Andrew Bolt more than you like paying for fuel.
The car has the full suite of driving aids, and I’m gradually becoming accustomed to their chimes, buzzing and light shows. If you find these features to be another way humanity is removing your ability to die like a man, fortunately you can turn them off. But the airbag, seatbelt and five-star crumple zone still exist, so this may also turn you off.
Ultimately, this is a solid car and great value for money. If your back can handle the seats in the SR, that’s an even better bet for the value hunter. In a weird world where having an SUV is the fad, the trusted hatchback is losing some of its shine. But I flatly refuse to pay a $5000–$7000 premium for some body cladding and generally fewer features.
The i30 isn’t perfect. The transmission needs work and some of the finer details are letting the Hyundai down. But it’s a really good effort, and it was the value and ownership costs that sold me over the Astra RS-V.