Hyundai is on a roll, with new or updated models being released for the Australian market. A Wheel Thing was part of the dealership launch of the Hyundai Tucson range in July of 2015 and kicks off a Hyundai Triple Treat with the updated diesel i30 Active hatch, with seven speed dual clutch auto.
The heart of the test car is a relatively quiet 1.6L diesel, with a thumping 300 Newton metres of torque, on tap between 1750 to 2500 rpms, powering down to the road via a seven speed, dual clutch, auto. Peak power is a reasonable, for the size, 100 kW at a high 4000 rpm. The combination works well, efficiently, but isn’t without foibles.
First gear can take a touch longer than expected to engage, from a standing start, leaving the i30 stranded and there’s also a curious lurching sensation at standstill, as the torque on idle appears to semi engage the transmission and wishes to push the car into motion.
Under hard acceleration, it’s surprisingly thrashy and seems to not be as seat of the pants quick as normal driving has it.
Otherwise, it’s a fine combination, with that wonderfully seamless sensation of acceleration and almost imperceptible gear changes. There’s torque enough to cause both a wheel chirp and a minor measure of torque steer as well when the go pedal is punched hard off the line, which is easily controlled. Fuel economy is quoted as being 4.6L to 4.9L per 100, depending on Manual or Auto, for the Combined cycle, just 4.1L to 4.3L per 100 km on the highway and an impressive 5.7L to 5.9L per 100 km in an urban environment (Hyundai i30 specifications.)
Speaking of steering, Hyundai persists with its three electronically assisted steering modes, being Comfort, Normal and Sport. The system loads up the feel in Sport, excessively by feeling too heavy, in A Wheel Thing’s opinion, somewhat less so in Normal and oddly, Comfort ended up being the ratio that felt most natural in the way the steering felt connected to the front wheels. Normal and Sport artificially eliminated the feel expected through the tiller, leaving A Wheel Thing disassociated from the driving experience and a touch uncomfortably so.
Ride quality of the car provided was skewed towards comfort, with a softish ride, some understeer and with shopping centre carpark speedbumps noticeable but not excessively intrusive, as in there’s no sudden hard jolt. With relatively high profile tyres, 205/55 on 16 inch steel wheels, the Active hangs on quite well however the tyres will allow a measure of understeer in certain driving circumstances; you can feel the sidewalls feeling like they’re rolling in and under slightly, flexing enough so the footprint isn’t holding on.
Steering, as mentioned earlier, was decent enough with Comfort, and whilst the other two may have their fans of the three mode system, A Wheel Thing isn’t one of them.
It’s not the heaviest thing around either, with Hyundai quoting 1337 kilos to 1439 kilos for the automatics in the range
There’s been a subtle yet noticeable makeover for the front, with the grille being redesigned to show flatter slats and a subtle reshaping of the housing itself. The rear continues much as it has done from the previous model, with an interesting note being how much the latest (2016 spec) Corolla hatch tail lights look like the i30’s…In profile, the pedestrian friendly slope of the bonnet and windscreen is noticeable, as is the sinuous wave of the sheetmetal joining the wheelarches. Driving lights are non LED equipped in the Active.
It’s a compact car to the eye, at just 4300 mm in total length, whilst packing a 2650 mm wheelbase. Height is low, at 1470 mm with width being a surprising 1780 mm.
On the inside it’s an intriguing mix of curves, relatively soft touch plastic and an oddity or two. From the driver’s (manually operated) pew, looking at the passenger side sees an embossed line in the plastic, making the join between the door and the dash look as if it’s one continuous curve, rather than the flat line it is. The door handles feel as if they’re an inch or two too far back for naturally opening without looking for them, plus there’s no sense of pressure as you pool, feeling as if it’s a string to open the doors, rather than a latch mechanism..
Also, the gear selector lever for manual selection requires the lever to be pushed away from, not to, the driver’s position. All seats in the Active diesel are cloth and the three level range all get cooling for the glovebox. All doors get moulded in holders for drink bottles as well but another oddity is the one touch Down only for the driver’s window, not one touch up as well..It’s roomy enough, that’s to that near 1.8m width.
The office space is comfortable and pleasant to look at; the dash houses two cobalt blue backlit dials that bracket an hourglass shaped, monochrome, display screen. There’s fuel and temperature (engine and outside) the gear of the transmission and average speed, amongst others. The controls for the cruise control, audio and Bluetooth phone connection on the steerer and clear and simple, as are the ones for the audio and aircon.
There’s a small smartphone screen (five inches) sized touchscreen, with Hyundai persisting in not including RDS. If there’s a downside, it’s the tactile feel and the somewhat meh look of the plastics used for the buttons themselves. Another question mark is the lack of Auto on for the headlights.
Access to the rear cargo space is done via a soft tab release in the hatch door (just below the hidden rear camera) or via the folding (60/40 split) rear seats, which gives a range of capacity, from 378 to 1316 litres of storage. All cars in the range get a full sized spare.
Safety is high across the board, with a knee airbag for the driver, curtain airbags, a full suite of active electronic safety aids, pretensioning seat belts and ISOFIX for child seats.
Hyundai offer a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty plus a free service at 1500 kilometres. There’s also a Lifetime Service Plan and Roadside Assistance service available as well (Hyundai Roadside Assistance) Metallic paint is a $495 option and Hyundai offers a choice of three Accessories packs. At a starting price for the Active diesel of around $30K, it’s a bit pricier than expected, however, at the time of writing (August 2015) Hyundai Australia are doing a $19990 driveaway offer for the 1.8L petrol i30 Active with a manual transmission. Check with your local Hyundai dealer for pricing and offers.