Hyundai’s public perception has increased markedly over the years, moving up from the cheap n’ cheerful brigade to building quality cars. The Hyundai i30, first sold here in October 2007 has arguably had the biggest influence in this change.
Interestingly, the i30 was designed for the European market rather than the South Korean one. Some are made in the Czech Republic though the majority sold here are from Korea.
Engineers from Australia and South Korea have tailored the suspension and steering to our conditions. Result is good dynamics, high levels of grip and a precise feel through the steering wheel. They are still not up with the Europeans, but are getting closer.
On the downside, the Australian handling package has resulted in a rather firm suspension in some conditions. Try for yourself if you lean more in the direction of comfort than tackling corners in a sporty hatch.
Initial imports of the Hyundai i30 were all five-door hatchbacks, but a station wagon, the Hyundai i30cw, joined the range in March 2009. It has a longer wheelbase and a substantially greater overall length than the hatch, resulting in significantly more legroom in the rear, so it can carry four adults in comfort.
The i30cw was discontinued with the second generation i30 in 2012, replaced by the i30 Tourer. While spacious enough the Tourer doesn’t have the impressive cabin dimensions of the i30cw.
A three-door i30 hatch, almost a coupe at the rear, was sold for a while from 2013 but wasn’t successful and didn’t survive the facelift of the gen-two in April 2015.
Most first generation i30s use a 2.0-litre petrol engine. This capacity dropped to 1.8 litres in the second generation models but it was a new design and offered more performance than the 2.0.
Turbocharged 1.6-litre diesel units with a capacity of 1.6 litres proved moderately popular in this country, but most buyers seem to be sticking with the petrols.
Transmission options were five-speed manual and four-speed auto in the gen-one i30. The gen-two got six forward ratios in both the manual and automatic transmissions.
Hyundai tried a toe-in-the-water exercise to the performance scene with the introduction of the i30 SR in August 2013. So strong was our local market that the global launch of the SR was held in this country.
A naturally-aspirated engine with 129 kilowatts gives it better than average performance, but the SR is no hot-hatch.
Having taken the toe of out the water and liking what it felt, Hyundai decided to go all the way with a full-on hot-hatch. The i30N (’N’ in honour of the company’s South Korean proving ground) wasn’t on sale as we wrote this, but is due in the third week of March 2018. We will publish a test on it immediately following its launch.
Hyundai has expanded rapidly in Australia in recent years, with numerous new dealers being appointed. Most dealers are in major metro areas, though the increasing number of dealers in country cities and towns is a sign of the maturing of the marque.
Spare parts prices are about average for this class and we haven’t heard any major complaints about availability.
Hyundai i30 is relatively easy for the home mechanic to do their own work. As always we recommended that safety areas are only serviced and repaired by qualified mechanics. Amateurs should always buy a workshop manual before getting in too deep.
Insurance companies seem to treat Hyundai i30 owners with respect and premiums generally range from average to slightly lower than the norm for a car in this class.
The third generation Hyundai i30 was launched here in May 2017. Very few are on the new-car scene at this time so aren’t being examined here.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The ignition key in some gen-one cars were on the fragile side and could break at the shank. Ask the seller to give it a hard twist so that you’re not the one to break it.
It’s important for the longevity of the turbo-diesel engine that it’s serviced by the book – so ask to see the book and make your own decisions from there.
Check the engine starts easily, the diesel will take longer than the petrol, especially if it’s cold, but too long a period of cranking indicates possible problems.
A manual gearbox which crunches on fast downchanges could be due for an overhaul, or there may be a clutch problem.
We haven’t seen many Hyundai i30s on the car rental fleets – the smaller i20 seems to be the more popular choice – but be wary of an i30 with a lot of kilometres on the clock.
Another sign of ex-renters, and/or of uncaring owners, is seat trim and boot mats that are in poor condition.
Prices should vary from $3000 to $5500 for a 2007 Hyundai i30 SX; $5000 to $8000 for a 2008 SR; $7000 to $11,000 for a 2010 cw SLX or a 2011 SX diesel; $9000 to $14,000 for a 2012 SR; $11,000 to $17,000 for a 2013 Premium; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2013 Tourer Elite; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2013 Premium diesel; $18,000 to $25,000 for a 2016 Premium LE; and $20,000 to$28,000 for a 2016 Premium diesel.
CAR BUYING TIP
Putting as much effort into shopping around for finance and insurance as for the car itself will pay off.