The Hyundai i30 is the third most popular car in Australia - behind the first placed Toyota Corolla and the Mazda3 in second. Which one will work out better in your driveway? Let's find out
HYUNDAI i30: Background briefing
The Hyundai i30 range was re-jigged comprehensively in January 2015. There are no less than 16 different Hyundai i30s you can buy, when you factor in the two body styles (hatch and wagon) plus the three transmissions (manual, auto and dual clutch), the four engines (1.6 petrol, 1.8 petrol, 2.0 petrol and 1.6 diesel) together with the five different equipment grades (Active, Active X, Premium, SR and SR Premium). Being confused about which one to buy is only natural. There is of course also the Elantra, which is the i30 sedan by any other name...
Hyundai i30 images - click to enlarge
The Active, Active X and Premium are conventional hatches built in South Kore (all hatches come from South Korea; the wagons are made in Europe). Active and Active X come with either a 1.8 multi-point injected petrol four or a 1.6 diesel, and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. The manual is a six speed. Here's where it gets confusing: the petrol auto is a conventional auto and the diesel auto is actually a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Premium Hyundai i30s are diesel only and auto (dual-clutch) only as well, which accounts for much of the apparent jump in price. They are also comprehensively equipped with what could only have been considered a full suite of luxury features just a few years ago.
The sportier SR and SR Premium hatches get some very slick local suspension tuning as well as an impressive 2.0-litre direct injection petrol four.
The wagon, which Hyundai insists on calling a 'tourer', comes with the diesel or a 1.6-litre petrol four with direct injection (doesn't quite match the 1.8 from the hatch on performance, but smashes it on economy).
Above: Hyundai i30 SR (left) and the i30 wagon - correction: 'Tourer' (centre & right)
Hyundai's big strengths with i30 include things that don't just jump out at you during a test drive. The five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres, the capped-price service for life, annual service intervals (or 15,000km) and the full-sized alloy spare tyre (or steel in the base morel Active) set it apart from the Corolla and Mazda3.
The i30 is impressive - but not perfect. The 1.8-litre petrol engine's days are numbered. And the sporty SR Premium is more expensive than a Mazda SP25GT, but seriously down on power, compared with Mazda's direct injection 2.5-litre SKYACTIV petrol engine across the SP25 range. Check out my Mazda SP25 review using the link below.