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First drive: Hyundai reboots top-selling i30 small car

Little hero: Hyundai has launched the second generation of its i30 hatch to compete in the crowded small car market against the likes of the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze.

More space and standard features to counter price rises for stylish new Hyundai i30


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29 May 2012

HYUNDAI Australia has taken its biggest seller upmarket with the introduction of the second-generation i30 small hatch, laying down the challenge to rivals in the bustling small car segment.

Featuring now-familiar 'fluidic sculpture' styling that brings it into line with the rest of the company's passenger car line-up, the new model is said to bring improved cabin space, fuel economy and refinement compared to the previous model dating back to 2007.

These improvements have resulted in price increases across the range of between $500 and $1450 depending on the variant, with the cost of entry now kicking off at $20,990 plus on-road costs for the Active petrol with manual gearbox – a $1400 jump over the previous entry model.

This compares with entry hatchback versions of key rivals such as the Mazda3 ($20,330), Holden Cruze ($21,490), Toyota Corolla ($20,990) and Ford Focus ($21,990).

Like the previous-generation hatch, the i30 is available in three model grades – now called Active, Elite and Premium – with either petrol or diesel powertrains now matched to a standard six-speed manual or optional $2000 automatic transmission.

By dropping the SX, SLX and SR naming structure from the previous model, Hyundai has brought the new i30 into line with newer models such as the Accent, Elantra and i40 Tourer.

The previous i30 was widely-credited with being the car that moved Hyundai Australia beyond its cheap-and-cheerful reputation, courtesy of good quality, strong safety credentials and understated but handsome styling.

It is also still the fourth biggest seller in the small-car segment so far this year with 8817 sales and 11.6 per cent market share, behind only the Mazda3 (14,601), Toyota Corolla (12,067) and the locally-built Holden Cruze (10,520).

#gallery#When sales of Elantra small sedan (2915 year-to-date, up more than 1000 per cent year-on-year) are factored in, Hyundai leapfrogs Holden to take bronze in the small car segment, which so far this year represents 22.5 per cent of overall vehicle sales.

The i30 is also Hyundai Australia's biggest seller, with the next most popular being the light-sized i20 on 4122 units YTD.

Assuming supply holds up, Hyundai hopes to lift i30 sales to about 2500 vehicles a month, compared with an average of 2400 units a month last year, despite the lack of a wagon variant in the new range.

The new model will face increasingly stiff competition in the already busy segment with an all-new Toyota Corolla set for local debut at the Sydney motor show in October and the re-born Nissan Pulsar set for release from January.

As we have reported, Nissan predicts the revived Pulsar will sell in far greater numbers than its unloved Tiida predecessor.

Hyundai has confirmed it will be unable to sell the wagon version of the i30 Down Under due to allocation from the Czech manufacturing plant (the hatch is built in South Korea instead). The 'cw' wagon accounted for around 20 per cent of total i30 sales in Australia in the previous generation.

The 1.8-litre powerplant under the bonnet of petrol variants, which replaces both the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol units offered on the previous generation, lacks direct injection but gets all-aluminium construction and dual continuously variable valve timing.

Power output is quoted as 110kW at 6500 rpm (up 5kW over the old 2.0-litre), while torque is down 8Nm over the old engine to 178Nm at 4700rpm. Hyundai claims combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100km for the manual (6.9 for the auto), a reduction of about 10 per cent.

The 1.6-litre common-rail CRDi turbo diesel engine commands a $2600 premium on all models (up $100) and is largely carried over from the old model, but now produces 94kW (up 9kW) and 260 Nm of torque (unchanged) – the same output as it makes in the smaller Accent.

Diesel consumption is an unchanged 4.5L/100km for the manual and is now 5.6L/100km for the automatic (down from 5.8).

Manual versions of both the petrol and diesel feature a shift indicator that suggests the most fuel-efficient point to shift a cog, while the automatic features an 'ECO indicator' that gives the driver advice on how to conserve fuel.

All members of the range feature seven airbags as standard (dual front, side curtain, thorax and driver's knee), as well as stability control, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution.

The left-hand-drive i30 last week scored a five-star European NCAP safety rating, outpointing the new BMW 3 Series in the child protection category in the process. Hyundai Australia said the local ANCAP assessment is underway.

Front suspension is again a MacPherson strut set-up, while rear suspension moves away from a multi-link arrangement on the old model to a less sophisticated, but space-saving, torsion beam.

The car's wheelbase is unchanged at 2600mm, but overall length has increased to 4300mm (up 55mm) and width has grown to 1780mm (up 5mm). The more rakishly-styled new model is 10mm lower than before, at 1470mm.

Hyundai claims front seat occupants now get 27mm more headroom (alongside 11 mm more legroom and 14 mm of additional shoulder room), while cargo space in the rear is now 378 litres (up 38L).

As with the previous generation car, the new i30 is said to have undergone thousands of kilometres of local testing, resulting in unique dampers exclusive to Australia.

All i30s feature a speed-sensitive electric power steering system fitted with a switchable 'Flex Steer' system that offers 'normal', 'comfort' and 'sport' settings that can either add or subtract weight from steering feel.

Hyundai claims improvements to noise, vibration and harshness levels in both petrol and diesel variants courtesy of more foam insulation and better aerodynamics.

The new i30 was designed at the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre in Russelsheim, Germany, and is built for the Australian market in South Korea.

According to Hyundai Europe chief designer Thomas Burkle, the new i30's more angular lines follow the precedent set by the rest of its passenger range, including the i40 medium wagon and sedan (the latter of which launches here next month).

“When designing new generation i30, we used strong, fluid lines to sculpt a car which looks athletic and exudes a sense of constant motion, even when stationary,” he said.

“We gave the car a bold stance, transmitting a confident attitude through sporty characteristics and dynamic proportions.

“In this respect, it is very close to the all-new i40, and the strength of Hyundai’s design DNA is easy for people to recognise in both these models.” Standard features across the i30 range include Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, a five-inch touch-screen with album cover display, steering wheel controls, cruise control, one-touch indicators and rear parking sensors.

The Elite, which starts at $24,950 for the petrol manual, nets additional features including 16-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touch-screen with satellite navigation and SUNA live traffic updates, rear-view camera, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, one-touch function of the power windows, a full-size spare wheel, rain-sensing wipers and push button start with a proximity key.

The Premium flagship, priced from $29,990, also includes a panoramic sunroof, leather seats (front seats also get heating), high intensity xenon headlights, electric park brake, 17-inch alloys, premium soft-touch cabin trim and rear air vents.

Metallic paint adds an extra $495 to all variants, with seven colours available.

As with the rest of the Hyundai fleet, the i30 is covered by a comprehensive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Hyundai i30 hatch pricing (plus on-roads):
Active petrol$20,990
Active petrol (a)$22,990
Active diesel$23,590
Active diesel (a)$25,590
Elite petrol$24,590
Elite petrol (a)$26,590
Elite diesel$27,190
Elite diesel (a)$29,190
Premium petrol (a)$29,990
Premium diesel (a)$32,590

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