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Driven: Hyundai’s i30 SR here from $27,990

Cheap thrills: The hottest i30 to date has arrived in Australia and will do battle with the Holden Cruze SRi-V and Nissan Pulsar SSS.

Warmed-up Hyundai i30 SR hatch uses punchier 2.0 engine pinched from bigger i40

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19 Aug 2013

HYUNDAI’S hottest five-door hatch to date, the 129kW/209Nm i30 SR, has touched down in Australia, priced from $27,990 before on-road costs.

The SR launches almost 10 months to the day after its world premiere in concept form at last year’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, alongside a similarly souped-up version of the smaller Accent hatch.

As we’ve reported, Hyundai Motor Co Australia’s product planning division played a substantial role in the creation of this pair, selecting components from throughout the company and combining them into two unique prototype vehicles.

Fitting, then, that Australian showrooms are the first in the world to get the i30 SR - a ready-made rival for a spate of warmed-up hatches launched recently including the locally made 132kW/230Nm Holden Cruze SRi-V ($26,490) and 140kW/240Nm Nissan Pulsar SSS ($29,690).

It also competes against the perennial favourite, and soon-to-be-replaced, Mazda3 SP25 ($31,490), and the top-line Cerato SLi hatch from sister brand Kia, launched last week with identical pricing and an identical powertrain to the i30 SR.

Proportional sales of hotted-up variants are higher in Australia than almost anywhere else worldwide, with up to 30 per cent of all small-cars sold classified as 'premium' or 'sporty'.

The small-car segment is Australia’s largest, and a significant percentage of private sales are of high-end or sporting versions such as the SR. Hyundai has sold 17,272 i30 hatches and wagons this year, making it Australia’s third most popular small car behind the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.

The company expects to sell as many as 250 units of the SR each month.

The i30 SR joins its hotter Veloster SR cousin in HMCA’s sport-oriented line-up, which pairs a turbocharged 1.6-litre 150kW/265Nm engine with a quirky 2+1 door layout priced from $31,990.

Unlike most rivals in this de-rigeur segment, the SR sports a normally aspirated engine rather than a turbocharger. The 2.0-litre GDi engine is shared with the larger i40 family sedan and wagon range, matched to either a six-speed manual gearbox or ($2200 more expensive) six-speed automatic transmission.

The engine redlines at 6500rpm and develops more than 200Nm between 4000 and 5500rpm, meaning it needs to spin up to extract the most out of it. Hyundai claims a respectable 0-100km/h dash of 7.7 seconds (manual) or 8.6 seconds (auto) with a full fuel tank.

Combined fuel economy for the i30 SR manual is 7.2L/100km, while the six-speed automatic’s combined figure is 7.5L/100km.

Hyundai’s new-born contender is based on the mid-range $25,590 i30 Elite, meaning standard features such as a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and live traffic updates, rear-view camera, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, one-touch function of the power windows, rain-sensing wipers and push-button start with keyless entry.

For the $2400 premium, the SR adds the punchier engine - up 19kW and 31Nm on the regular car’s 1.8-litre unit - larger 17-inch alloy wheels, a unique grille with glossy black inserts, new rear diffuser, Xenon headlights, LED rear combination lights, alloy-faced pedals, partial-leather seats (electric powered for the driver) and a self-dimming rear-view mirror.

It also sports a more dynamic, Australian-honed, suspension tune. As with other Hyundai models sold here, the brand’s local subsidiary sorts out more suitable suspension and damping and sends the revised tune back to the Korean factory for build.

The SR gets bespoke Sachs front and rear dampers, plus four per cent stiffer front springs. Both the rear spring rate and stabiliser bar are unchanged over the regular i30.

HMCA claims its local team tested 43 separate suspension component combinations to optimise spring and damper rates, and conducted evaluations on a trio of closed-circuit tests. Development included 13 front damper builds and 23 rear damper builds.

“The i30 SR incorporates performance and styling improvements to deliver a truly exciting driving experience,” said HMCA chief operating officer John Elsworth.

“Like the Veloster SR Turbo, which also has a locally developed suspension tune, the i30 SR is a clear representation of Hyundai Motor Company’s willingness to embrace Australian product initiatives.”

HMCA’s product planning manager Andrew Tuitahi said the company “aimed for a setup that was communicative, responsive and well controlled”.

“I’m confident we’ve achieved that,” he said. “The i30 SR has increased dynamic ability without sacrificing everyday usability. Most importantly, it’s also great fun to drive.”Hyundai i30 SR pricing*
i30 SR$27,990
i30 SR with sunroof$29,990
i30 SR (a)$30,190
i30 SR (a) with sunroof$32,190
*Excludes on-road costs.

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