Hyundai Motor Company has seen major sales and critical successes in recent years, capped by the Elantra recently clinching the South African Car of the Year title. To add to its already strong portfolio, Hyundai has launched the new i30 hatchback in South Africa. CAR magazine was afforded the opportunity to review the new i30 at its local launch in the Cape Winelands.
Exterior, interior and standard features
The i30 is striking in appearance. Thanks to the talents of Hyundai design chief, Thomas Burkle, this European-designed car is easily recognised as a Hyundai. It has the hexagon-like grille that appears on all of the company’s small compact cars, and lines and contours of the Hyundai “fluidic sculpture” design language. It’s a head-turner and definitely something different from the norm.
The interior is typically Hyundai. The layout of everything is clean and simple and, while most surfaces are plastic, it feels solid and well screwed together. It doesn’t feel as classy or as well built as the Volkswagen Golf or Opel Astra, but it’s not cheap, either.
As is the case with all Hyundais these days, the i30’s strongest selling point is its standard specification. The model that I drove comes with six airbags, central locking, power steering, electric windows and mirrors, glovebox cooling, a MP3-compatible audio system with USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth functionality, satellite controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, rear park-distance control, ABS with EBD and vehicle stability control.
On the road
Hyundai offers the i30 locally with either a 1,6-litre petrol (6-speed manual or automatic) and a six-speed manual 1,8-litre. No turbodiesel is currently offered. At the launch, I sampled the 1,6 AT.
The first thing my driving partner and I noticed when we got into the car was that we couldn’t sit comfortably because the headrests on the front seats were slightly angled to the front. We weren’t able to tilt it any other way. Other than that, you can make use of the fore and aft adjustment on the seat and the rake and reach adjustment on the steering column to find the best position.
The engine is a 95 kW unit that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is punchy enough and gear changes are relatively slick, but like other automatics in the Korean fleet, the combination of the two means that it gets rough and loud at higher engine revs.
Thanks to the new FlexSteer system (standard across the range) that allows you to choose between comfort, normal and sport driving modes, the "feel" of the car can be changed according to whichever mood you are in. In comfort mode, the steering felt a little bit too light and gave the impression that the steering wheel is quite separated form the front wheels. I can see, however, how this mode would be useful around town and when trying to get into tight parking spaces. Normal mode is one that I used most often. It was light enough to enable me to manoeuvre the car through tight situations, but also had enough feel in it to confidently tackle the twisty roads and passes of the Western Cape. Sport mode isn’t vastly different from normal, but it does give the compact i30 a sense of dynamism.
The new i30 is a very good-looking car. It’s packed with features that some Golf, Focus and Astra owners can only dream of. This version's engine isn’t as impressive as the powerplants in some of its rivals, and it can't quite match the Germans for tangible quality. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not a good buy. It’s competitively priced and I suspect that we will see quite a few of these on our roads.
Model: Hyundai i301,6 AT
Engine: 1,6-litre, four-cylinder
Power: 95 kW at 6 300 r/min
Torque: 157 N.m at 4 850 r/min
0-100 km/h: 11,5 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6,8 L/100 km
CO2: 173 g/km
Luggage capacity: 378/1 316 dm3
Top speed: 192 km/h
Price: R243 900
Service plan: 5 years/90 000 km
Warranty: 5 years/150 000 km
For a full list of features for all i30 models, download the specification sheet by clicking on the documents tab in the top right-hand corner of the image block.
To view a video of this new i30, click here.