My wife and I traveled south to Canberra over the weekend to catch a footy (NRL) and hockey (AIHL) game. We had the chance to hire the new Hyundai i30 for the duration of the trip, which I was really keen to do, having heard so many rave reviews about the car over the last few months.
The i30 is Hyundai’s small/medium car designed to compete with the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Mazda 3. Being the owner of a 2007 Ford Focus, I was very interested to see how the i30 competes with and compares to the Focus especially.
Does it? Well, having driven the i30 from early Saturday through to early Monday, I hope I can shed a little light on that question.
The Hyundai i30, like many of the small cars on the market right now has a definite European look to it. The sleek front and Euro-hatch rear-end is nothing new to the car market and while the i30 does stick to the current trend of look, the car design has a unique quality to it.
The back end of the car is actually incredibly good-looking, and to be honest, if i didn’t know this was a Hyundai, I would probably think it was some European car and not one from Korea.
The model we drove over the weekend had the 2L engine and low-profile sports tires, which really heightened the sporty look the car naturally has. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because it’s a Hyundai that it doesn’t have a bit of get-up-and-go either, as i’ll mention soon.
The interior space is incredibly roomy and would easily rival the Ford Focus, at least in the front. The boot space is more than adequate for a car this size and the low tail-gate bumber makes for really easy access to the rear space.
I’m not sure what the more pricey models of the car are like, but the model we had was really quite impressive with it’s interior space and features. There was loads of storage compartments in the front including a sunglasses holder in the roof, 2 dash compartments (top & front), a spacious glove box, and 2 mid-console compartments. There were also the standard door compartments.
As you can see from the image on the right, the dash of the i30 is very easy on the eye. Electronic windows all round, a great blue-backlit screen on the radio as well as the dash and a nice sleek feel give the i30 an overall welcoming appearance.
The controls on the drivers door did cause a few problems, as there are quite a few buttons very close together. On more than a few occasions hit the wrong button when intending to lower my window. That isn’t such a huge issue however, as you would very quickly get used to that if you owned an i30.
One really great interior feature I was impressed to see was the USB adapter, which allows you to charge your phone/ipod/GPS while driving without the use of the standard power method (cigarette lighter plug).
Drive & Handling
Look and feel are all good and fine, but if it doesn’t handle or drive well, what good is the car… which brings me to this question… how does the Hyundai i30 drive?
The model we drove had the 2L engine which has an impressive 106.6kW (143.0 hp) at 6000 RPM, slightly higher than the Ford Focus equivalent engine. The acceleration was punchy and when you put your foot down, the engine was responsive immediately. I personally liked the engine noise you got when your foot went down also, and you heard the engine revving up pretty clearly. While some may not like engine noice, I thought it worked well on this car.
It cruised incredibly well at 100km/h (60mph) and would jump up to 120km/h fast if you gave the pedal a bit of pressure. We didn’t get a chance to get it faster.. that would have been illegal, afterall.
As far as handling is concerned, the i30 did experience roll on cornering far worse than I am used to in my Ford Focus. While the rolling was probably perfectly normal and within the standards of “good”, I always felt a little worried about throwing it around corners. Saying that, when you did test the handling the car stuck to the road perfectly and you never felt “out of control”.
Would i recommend an i30?
I always like to think of a review summary as “would i recommend it…”, so that’s what I’m doing here. After driving the 2L Hyundai i30, would I recommend it as a car worth buying? To be honest… yes, but do your research and test-drive all options before deciding. The i30 really impressed me much more than I had ever expected. It’s a nice looking car packed with features and an economical yet responsive engine.