THE new Hyundai i30cw (for crossover wagon) is as much about building the Hyundai brand as it is increasing market share for the popular small car, with a forecast of only 200 sales a month.
On sale now from $20,890, the i30cw adds $1500 to the price of the five-door hatch, and mirrors the latter’s base SX and mid-level SLX model structure in petrol and – for $2500 more – turbo-diesel guises.
However, the wagon ditches the hatch’s sporty SR flagship for the return of the Sportswagon nomenclature on a Hyundai for the first time since the demise of the i30’s predecessor, the J2 Lantra, in late 2000. Like the SR, it is only available with a petrol engine.
Styled at the company’s design and engineering centre in Russelsheim, Germany, the i30cw has been devised from the outset to be a wagon. Supporting this is a larger body that is 230mm longer at 4475mm and 40mm taller at 1565mm (with the standard roof rails) than the hatch, enabling rear headroom to rise 7mm to 987mm.
The i30cw’s 2700mm wheelbase represents a 50mm stretch for a 36mm increase in rear-seat legroom (rated at 926mm), while rear overhang extends by 180mm (or 25 per cent) over the i30 hatch to 900mm.
All the upsizing leads to a 415-litre cargo area with split/fold rear seats up (75 litres or 22 per cent more than the hatch), which can then be increased to 1395 litres with them folded, compared to 1250 litres in the hatch.
The i30cw’s rear doors also have been redesigned, but everything forward of the B-pillar is shared with the i30 hatch, as are the transverse drivetrain choices, built on Hyundai’s fourth-generation front-wheel drive small-car platform that also underpins the HD Elantra, the Kia C'eed small car of Europe and a variation of the TD Cerato.
Expected to power around half of all i30cw wagons is Hyundai’s long-running 1975cc 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol Beta series engine, with variable-valve timing technology to help achieve 105kW of power at 6000rpm and 186Nm of torque at 4600rpm.
Alternatively, buyers can choose the CRDi Common Rail Direct injection 1582cc 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit with a VGT Variable Geometry Turbo installation and low-friction balancer shafts to cut engine noise.
It is rated at 85kW at 4000rpm and 255Nm from 1900 to 2750rpm.
Both engines can be mated to either a five-speed manual (in SX models only) or four-speed automatic gearbox with driver-adaptive software (but no Tiptronic-style sequential shift function).
The petrol engine’s combined average fuel consumption figure is 7.3L/100km (auto: 7.7), compared to the diesel’s 4.9L/100km (auto: 6.0), while the carbon dioxide emissions ratings stretches from 183g/km for the petrol-auto i30 CW (manual: 174) to 128g/km for the SX diesel manual (auto: 159).
Like the hatch, the CW’s suspension is by MacPherson struts and coils up front and an independent multi-link arrangement in the rear. This has been “… specially calibrated for Australian driving conditions (involving) refining the i30’s European settings to accommodate (Australia’s) multi-patched, lumpier, bumpier local roads,” according to a Hyundai statement.
The company says Korea and Australia were used to optimise the springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars, along with the electric power steering system that features revised software mapping for a weightier feel. The result is a unique suspension and steering calibration for Australia and New Zealand.
Brakes are ventilated discs and the front and solid items in the rear.
Standard features in the i30 CW also duplicate the sedan, and include ESC stability control, traction control, ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution, dual front airbags, active head restraints for the front seats, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustability, Hyundai’s HALO speed-sensing central locking system that locks all doors over 40km/h, air-conditioning, power windows, CD/MP3/WMA audio with a USB port and iPod compatibility and a full-size spare wheel.
Side and curtain airbags cost $700 extra on the SX, but are otherwise fitted to all other i30s.
Wagon-specific features include the aforementioned roof rails, extendable cargo cover, a cargo mesh barrier that connects to the roof immediately behind either the front or rear seats to keep items flying forward in an emergency stop from striking the car’s occupants, and a 12-volt rear power socket.
Hyundai says the i30 CW can have optional roof racks, reverse sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and a cargo liner.
Among the Sportswagon range-topper’s inclusions are chromed 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/45 R17 tyres, auto-dusk sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery and an in-dash six-CD stacker with externally amplified speakers.
According to Hyundai Motor Company Australia marketing manager Oliver Mann, the i30 is charged with bringing in incremental sales to the brand, snaring existing SUV owners as well as people with larger sedans (and wagons) wishing to downsize.
Direct rivals include the Skoda Roomster and Octavia wagon, Holden’s Astra wagon and the outgoing Viva wagon and the Peugeot 207 Touring and 308 Touring, while models such as the Rondo 7 mini-people-mover and Suzuki SX4 hatch are also on Hyundai’s radar.
The forecast of 200 sales a month represents about 15 per cent of i30 sales.
At 2209 units for the first two months of 2009, total i30 sales are up by almost 80 per cent compared to the same time frame last year, but the Elantra sedan version has plummeted by 43 per cent over the same period.
Ironically, a Hyundai insider revealed to GoAuto last week that the Australians fought tooth and nail to adopt the i30 moniker for the hatch back in 2007 – as head office in South Korea wanted to continue with the Elantra nameplate for the European-designed small car.