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Car reviews - Hyundai - i30 - Tourer

Our Opinion

We like
Value, styling, practicality, comfort, safety, cabin presentation, ergonomics, simplicity
Room for improvement
Bit dull to drive, small petrol engine lacking in power

Gallery

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Hyundai logo10 Sep 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Price and equipment

WHY aren’t small wagons more popular in Australia? Is the allure of the SUV still that great? How come? The latter are almost always slower, heavier, thirstier, and more cumbersome and not to mention exxier, than their more diminutive brethren.

Well, we suspect is largely comes down to their elevated ride height, which suits parents to a tee and gives a commanding view of the road.

That’s why it has had to jump through hoops to land the second-generation i30 wagon – now dubbed Tourer – Down Under.

While the previous FD version came off the same boat from South Korea as the well-established hatch, the GD has to schlep all the way down from the Czech Republic. It’s the only place on Earth that builds the Tourer.

The sourcing issue means that – compared to the hatch – there are significant differences besides the obvious bodystyle one.

The Tourer is only available with 1.6-litre power (petrol or turbo-diesel). It hasn’t quite had the same Aussie chassis tweaks. And there’s a $3K premium to account for the extra metal.

At $22,990 (or $25,190 as tested in six-speed auto guise) the Active includes seven airbags, an alphabet soup of safety related acronyms (VSM, ESC, TCS, ABS, ESS, HAC, EBD, and BAS), rear parking sensors (effective), LED daytime running lamps (trendy), cruise control with speed limiter function (handy), a three-mode steering weighting system (gimmicky), Bluetooth phone with audio streaming connectivity (intuitive), and a five-inch touchscreen display unit (easy).

All the wagon basics are there too – power windows, remote central locking, flat-folding rear seats – plus a few items you might not expect in a base model, such as roof racks, a cargo blind with safety barrier net, glovebox cooling, and 16-inch alloys with corresponding full-sized spare.

Another $2600 secures you a CRDi, while the flagship Touring Elite CRDi with sat-nav, leather and a bunch of other goodies costs $31,140 plus on-roads.

Interior

This is all about the wagon, where size matters, so let’s start out back.

Built on an identical 2650mm wheelbase to the hatch, the Tourer’s tail is nonetheless 185mm longer, liberating 150 litres of extra cargo carrying capacity. Total volume is 528L – 113L better than before.

Similarly, at 1642L the seats-down volume beats its predecessor and current five-door sibling by 247L and 326L respectively.

Useful figures. From a qualitative point of view the Tourer is of the low and long, rather than the short and tall, school of wagon thinking. There’s a definite European flavour going on here, but the i30 ably walks the fine line between form and function.

Aided by rear-seat bases that tip forward for a lower floor, the cargo space is superb for long flat items, and yet there’s enough of a boxy silhouette for bulkier objects to slide in without too much trouble.

A full-sized spare lives beneath the floor, while a useably (and surprisingly) deep cavity concealed just aft of the tailgate for extra capacity.

Additionally, Hyundai provides luggage hooks, a 12V outlet and a trio of child-seat anchorage points immediately behind the rear backrest for minimal cargo-space intrusion. This is the fourth C-segment wagon series the South Korean conglomerate has built since 1996 and it shows.

Frankly, however, the suitcases enjoy more enticing environs than the rear-seat occupants.

Sure, the basics are all there head, leg and shoulder space should be sufficient for smaller families, or even those who need to transport four full-sized adults, while the bench itself excels for comfort and support.

So it’s a shame that the ambience is so unremittingly dour, and plasticky, and not at all lovely. AWOL map pockets is especially penny-pinching.

Happily, things improve up front, for a variety of reasons.

As with other GD-era i30s, the dashboard is one of the series’ strongest features. Hyundai simply doesn’t put a foot wrong. It all gels together beautifully.

Every single thing is there to assist the operator – great driving position, clear dials, big easy buttons, ample ventilation, and massive storage solutions abound. Special mentions goes to the Bluetooth’s straightforward connectivity, superb steering wheel and excellent build quality.

Downsides? Rear vision is pretty poor – a reversing camera would help but at least the Tourer comes with rear sensors – while the lack of a digital speedo in an age of speed-camera warfare is a bit of a shame.

Engine and transmission

Here’s where the Tourer Active GDI (for Gasoline Direct Injection) is a little less convincing. 1.6 litres is barely adequate for a family wagon.

Make no mistake. In the everyday urban driving conditions, the Hyundai performs with admirable efficiency, stepping off the mark quickly enough, and will maintain sufficient pace in the daily rat race.

But you’ll notice that this slick and modern engine requires a hefty dose of revs before there’s enough power and speed to join a fast-moving motorway.

Add the air-con, a few more passengers and a load, and you’re constantly mashing down the throttle.

Only when ambling along the open road in the tall top ratio does the engine calm down to become a quiet and relaxed cruiser.

This level of downsizing deserves a turbo application. We’d recommend stretching to the excellent diesel engine.

Note, however, that normally pushing the pedal down constantly doesn’t do much for fuel economy, but the GDI drivetrain’s inherent efficiency means that we still managed a decent 8.8L/100km during our week with it.

Ride and handling

Like every five-door i30, the Tourer is an impressively competent though unexciting driving experience.

Take the ‘Flex’ steering. Sure, each of the three settings (Comfort, Normal, Sport) provides linear and predictable handling, backed up by a chassis that sticks to the road with dogged determination. No matter how fast you take a corner, the i30 is designed with safety-first in mind.

But none of the steering options provides even a semblance of feel or feedback.

All it seems to do is change the weight of the wheel – from overly light to tolerably heavy. There is nothing sporty or involving here.

The ride, meanwhile, ranges from adequate to a little bit firm, with road irregularities occasionally upsetting the car’s chosen line. Again, there is no subtlety or finesse.

Even wagon drivers want a bit of sparkle from their ride.

Never mind. At least the Tourer feels and is sure, safe and secure from behind the wheel.

Safety and servicing

With seven airbags and all those safety acronyms (VSM Vehicle Stability Management, ESC Electronic Stability Control, TCS Traction Control System, ABS Anti-lock Braking System, EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution, BAS Brake Assist System, ESS Emergency Stop Signal, and HAC Hill Start Assist Control, it’s clear Hyundai is focussed on maintaining the i30’s five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.

On the servicing front, there’s Hyundai iCare, offering three-years capped price servicing, a five-year/unlimited warranty, and seven years of roadside assistance (if every service is conducted at a Hyundai dealerships in-line with the vehicles servicing schedule).

Verdict

The i30 Tourer is one of the few small-car wagons on sale today. And it does everything with great efficiency and composure.

We’d like to see a bit more oomph from the petrol engine, though, and there’s not much for drivers to revel in, but now that the Opel Astra is no more, it is probably the best C-segment wagon all-rounder for the money.

Our advice is to save up for the superior CRDi diesel and enjoy exceptional economy combined with ample performance.

Rivals

Volkswagen Golf 90TSI Trendline ($26,990 plus on-roads).

Getting a bit old now, with a new one not far away. But it’s still a solid and competent Euro offering.

Holden JH Cruze CD Sportwagon (from $25,790 plus on-roads).

The South Korean-built wagon doesn’t benefit from the mods that have improved the Aussie Cruze, and the old 1.8L Ecotec lacks fire, but the packaging is generous, comfortable and very practical.

Renault Megane Dynamique (from $26,490 plus on-roads).

The Spanish-built K95 provides adequate space and comfort, in a smart Euro package, but the 2.0L CVT combination – while smooth – also lacks punch, so again, save up for the superior diesel instead.

Specs

Make and model: Hyundai GD i30 Tourer Active GDI
Engine type: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol
Layout: FWD
Power: 99kW @ 6300rpm
Torque: 163Nm @ 4850rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
0-100km: N/A
Fuel consumption: 6.9L/100km
CO2 rating: 160g/km
Dimensions: L/W/H/WB 4300/1780/1470/2650mm
Weight: 1394kg
Suspension: MacPherson struts/torsion beam
Steering: Electric rack and pinion
Price: From $25,190

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