Hyundai i30 Series II

Trying to deviate from the mean

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

ITíS appropriate that the i30 is in the C segment because that letter also defines the South Korean hatchbackís middle-of- the-road standing.

The face of the GD Series II range loses its odd braces for a more elegant, Genesis-style hexagonal grille treatment while redesigned alloys, updated multimedia, standard reversing camera and minor spec improvements further help the still-handsome i30 in its required mid-life makeover.

Not much was wrong with the spacious, solid and smart cabin, defined by thoughtful control placement, perfectly clear dials, ample ventilation, supportive seating and a flawless driving position. Sure, the leather feels like pleather, itís all a bit of a button-fest, and rear vision is hindered by the upswept window line, but the quality and ambience places the Hyundai somewhere between Japan and Germany.

For showroom allure, the i30 continues to be a knockout.

Itís too bad the ride quality can be pummelling over bad roads, au be pummelling over bad roads, at least in the Active X (which replaces the previous Elite).

Wearing vocal Hankook Kinergy Eco 205/55R16 rubber, we donít know what is more wearisome, the fidgety suspension or incessant droning. Furthermore, comfort drops to a D-minus in the flagship Premium CRDi on Nexen 225/45R17 boots.

Keen drivers wonít much like the electrically assisted power steering set-up when roads get interesting, despite Hyundaiís local tuning efforts. Well planted, if muted at the straight-ahead, the steering feels artificial and imprecise at speed. Tip it into a corner and itís a dissatisfying, disconnected experience.

Moreover, electing Sport rather than the ridiculously wispy Comfort setting or still overly light Normal mode merely taxes the arm muscles.

A similar malaise affects the usly r e unchanged 107kW/175Nm unchanged 107kW/175Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engineís performance. Lacking low-down torque, a call for more power will have the engine roaring raucously beyond 5000rpm all too regularly, further undermining refinement. Relief is available via the gutsier (and now $2500 cheaper) SRís 124kW/201Nm 2.0-litre unit, or the CRDi turbodiesel and its new seven-speed DCT dual-clutch auto (see sidebar).

With leading warranty and aftersales care underpinning its good looks inside and out, the improved i30 (from $20,990) strives to remain on top of the averages. However, against A-grade stars like the Golf, this Hyundai only rates a C.

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Hyundai i30 Active X 1797cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v 107kW @ 6500rpm 175Nm @ 4700rpm 6-speed automatic 1270kg 9.5sec (estimated) 7.3L/100km $24,390 Now

PLUS & MINUS

Ageing four-cylinder petrol engine; firm ride; noise intrusion Appealing design; great cabin; generous warrant; simplicity of operation

Dual-clutch benefits

THE regular six-speed auto used in the petrol models is replaced in the 1.6 CRDi six is replaced in the 1.6 CRDi turbo-diesel by a Hyundaifirst seven-speed dual-clutch.

It consequently gets an extra 40Nm over the continuing six-speed manualís 100kW/260Nm output, spelling effortless mid-range performance, though offthe- line lethargy remains an issue. At least consumption falls below 5.0L/100km, and Hyundai should also be commended for pricing its diesel from just $23,590.

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