Hyundai’s growth worldwide has been nothing short of spectacular; the brand consistently wins awards for the vehicles they produce and, somewhat, share with sister brand Kia. There’s been some success stories of late, including the funky Veloster and the i30 hatch. A Wheel Thing spent time with the diesel powered i30 Tourer (wagon) and came away with mixed feelings.
Of note is the quiet, the refined, the torquey diesel engine. Compared to some cars tested in recent weeks, this engine is almost petrol quiet in comparison, even under load. At a comparatively small 1.6L, with what seems to be a miniscule 94 kilowatts (@4000rpm) there’s plenty of low end oomph, torquing out 260 Nm from 1900 to 2750 rpm. This helps the i30 get away with alacrity once the initial lag down low is dealt with as the tacho barely moves until just before 2000rpm and certainly shows in economy in an urban environment. The model was the Active, fitted with a traditional (non CVT) auto, weighing around 1400 kilograms. On the freeway it feels barely above idle and is almost silent, only making itself really known once called upon to accelerate. The transmission is smooth, slick, quiet on the upshift (with manual mode also) and rarely intrudes upon the consciousness on downshifts, making you aware there was one but not so it was excessively noticeable. However, with a bigger 2.0L engine available overseas, twisting out 304Nm, this would help a great deal once the i30 Tourer is loaded up….It’s a reasonable handler, however excessively soft suspension in the Active finds the bumpstops in almost constant contact over speedhumps of any size, whilst the front suspension is of what A Wheel Thing finds to be of a far too short travel, feeling as if, even at moderately slow speed, that the towers are going to be ripped out and on the short sharp bumps leading into a carpark, give an odd double rebound. the rear doesn’t (the Tourer gets a multi-link rather than torsion beam setup) but still feels overly soft and with a family and shopping on board would almost certainly feel as if there’s nothing left in the rebound as the springs would be compressed fully. On hard turns there’s a clear sense of weight transfer, with noticeable body roll as the nose tucks in. Steering is light and also offers FlexSteer, providing three steering options; Comfort, Normal and Sport via a button located on the tiller. Although reasonably tight lock to lock, at 2.85 turns, it’s not particularly direct, with extra input often required coming out of a 90 degree turn to keep the car on the right side of the white centre lines. Braking, though, is smooth and progressive on the pedal, rather than a bite in the first inch of travel.
The exterior has had a mild revamp and not altogether with a positive note, with the front a mix of a slightly bulbous headlight cluster framing Hyundai’s now traditional hexagonal grille treatment, leading to a redefined, sharper, window angle at the rear via a defined crease line (part of Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” ethos). Compared to the previous model it results in leaving the rear apron and quarters now looking fatter and rounder. It’s not totally unattractive, but it makes the i30 Tourer look heavy in the rear. There’s a minor but similar design mismatch in the interior, with a normal sized driver/passenger finding the door release handle about an inch too far back in the door’s trim in relation to where their hand would normally expect to find it. Also, the steering wheel has no bluetooth controls for a phone; rather, they’re attached to the radio unit, which means a momentary eye off the road and a reach to engage/disengage….not terribly ergonomic nor is a driver’s window switch that requires a hold for up but a mere flick for down. A minor upside is that this model is sourced from Hyundai’s European manufacturing plant, which offers LED running lights and an infinitely adjustable wheel for the driver’s backrest, rather than a set stop lever. The interior itself is plain yet functional, with a sweeping arch design encompassing the driver and passenger plus a “floating” storage look for the centre console under the dash, rear seat passengers are a bit tight for legroom however there’s a good amount of cargo space, 528L, which increases to 1642L thanks to the 60/40 split fold seats. It’s worth noting that capacity is larger than some compact to mid sized SUVs, including the Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Dualis and Mazda’s CX-5……Soft touch plastics and a decent cloth trim complete a comfortable workspace, with a non touchscreen radio plus no rear vision camera a downside.
It’s a competent but not outstanding part of the Hyundai i30 range; at a touch under $30K for this particular variant (petrol and manuals available), there’s good cargo space but compromised rear seat legroom; quality fit and finish but a couple of ergonomic issues; a reasonably grunty diesel which is great for one passenger however would struggle four up and loaded plus (in this car) a too soft suspension. A Wheel Thing will stay with the hatch, thank you.