The Volkswagen Golf must be looking nervously over it’s shoulder at the new Hyundai i30, and it’s not only because a Golf GTi baiting high performance i30 is on the way. The entire i30 range has taken a leap upwards in style, quality and manners that leaves it knocking on the door of Volkswagen’s engineering department.
That’s a more apt analogy than you’d think; more than a few of the team that worked on the new i30 used to work at the German brand and it really does show.
Starting from the outside, the new i30 has a very confident and distinctive look, including the new trademark ‘waterfall’ grille and sharply angled headlights. Inside it feels very European with soft touch trim and a solid construction. Red chrome highlights in the test car – a top range $43,9990 Limited – add some extra flash to the interior, while the leather seats also have red stitching for a sporty look. The drives seat is ten-way power adjustable, while both front seats have heating and ventilation built into them. The 8-inch screen is easy to use, and while the system has full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability the system has its own satellite navigation. This is good news for those who either don’t have an Android Auto or Apple Carplay capable phone, or who just don’t want to learn how to use it.
Autonomous Emergency Braking is all the rage these days, and the i30 Limited has this, as well as lane keeping assist and driver attention alert. The lower models in the range do not get any of these though, which is unfortunate.
All i30’s do get Blind Spot Monitoring, a full package of stability and traction control and rear cross traffic alert. The latter detects when something is about to cross behind the car outside the view of the reversing camera, and this is perhaps the unsung hero of reducing reversing accidents.
The i30 Limited has a 1.6 litre engine – shared with the Hyundai Veloster – that produces 150kW and an impressive 265Nm of torque. That torque kicks in early and flings the car down the road with a confident surge of acceleration but the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox doesn’t like short shifting, as the gearbox can hesitate before engaging a new ratio. That’s pretty much the only issue with the driveline package, and it feels very well resolved.
Also very well resolved is the handling. All new i30’s have McPherson Strut front suspension, but while lower level cars have torsion beam rear suspension the Limited has a muli-link setup that gives the car competent handling. The suspension settings were refined in Australia for local handling conditions and they work very well over here. Turn in is crisp and the rear end feels agile without being overly darty.
The Hyundai i30 Limited is a very impressive car, with many strengths and few flaws. It’s so good that it makes a reviewer look more like a paid shill, and this car has the strengths to go toe to toe with any European competitor. This, as well as the new Kona SUV, the upcoming G70 rear wheel drive sedan and the hot hatch i30 N show that Hyundai is serious about making waves amongst the Euros.