2018 Hyundai i30 Premium diesel review (video)

Mitchell Jones

The 2018 Hyundai i30 is the brand’s latest bid to dominate one of the most competitive market segments in Australia; small hatches.

While Hyundai’s reputation has improved overall, to the point where the i30 routinely tops Australian sales charts, there remains a minority of badge snobs who didn’t get the memo and still wouldn’t touch anything with the ‘H’ badge. In addition to evaluating this vehicle in its own right, this tester gathered a friend with this viewpoint to see if the stigma of the Excel lingers.

This is the most up-spec, Premium diesel variant of the new-from-the-ground-up, 2017 (MY2018) i30 range. At its recent launch, the i30 impressed us with its powerful engines, excellent standard equipment levels and the behaviour of its Australian-tuned chassis acquitting itself well on the test loop. How does the i30 fare with a bit more familiarity in the real world?

2018 Hyundai i30 Premium diesel – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 1.6-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder
Output: 100kW@4000rpm / 300Nm@1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 17×7.0, 225/45
ANCAP: Five stars (scored 35.01 out of 37)
Tare weight: 1439kg
Power-to-weight: 14.39:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 4.7L/100km
Economy during test: 6.0L/100km[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Fuel capacity/Type: 50L/Diesel
Power efficiency: 21.27kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.54 seconds*
0-100km/h: 10.43 seconds*
60-110km/h: 7.49 seconds*
1/8 mile: 11.23 seconds at 108.1km/h*
1/4 mile: 17.34 seconds at 128.7km/h*
100-0km/h braking: 2.93 seconds at 37.12 metres*
Decibel at idle: 51*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 75*
Priced from: $33,950[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2018 Hyundai i30 Premium diesel – THE PACKAGE

The i30 has grown in every major dimension, yielding more interior space for front and rear passengers. It is 4340mm long, 1795mm wide, 1455mm tall and there is 2650mm between the wheel arches. The all-new styling is bolder and more premium, with some elements of Golf Mk VI from the rear, but a very confident and proud front grille and headlight graphic. For all intents and purposes, the i30 is a European car, with most of the styling and development done at Hyundai’s Frankfurt headquarters.

The $33,950 asking price is a tall order for a Hyundai, but when even the base model Active comes stacked with a solid sat-nav system, smartphone mirroring and much more, you can expect the more expensive model to be absolutely stuffed with kit. And you’d be right.

Heated and cooled leather seats with 10-way power adjustment for the driver, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian alert, panoramic sunroof are just the tip of the iceberg.

Cream leather and dash appointments add a calming and sophisticated tone to a very contemporary and high quality cabin design. Ergonomically, it is superb. Everything is orthodox, logical and within easy reach. The steering buttons, climate control and infotainment knobs are all a triumph of form and function that seems to elude a lot of rivals.

Navigation that displays speed cameras and uses delightful bings and bongs like you’d hear on an aeroplane is very upmarket. Audio quality is decent without being outstanding – this is the same six-speaker system as the base model.

There are some surfaces, such as the window switch surround and lower dash, that aren’t up to Golf standards but you won’t care. Auto up/down windows for all four and global open and close via the remote key are enough to make VW blush with rage.

Room all round is impressive thanks to clever packaging and the increase in size. The i30 hits a balance between compact exterior dimensions and using its interior space wisely. Boot space varies between 395L and 1301L depending on whether the rear seats are in play or not. It has a handy rectangular recess and a net to secure shopping. A full-size spare wheel is becoming too scarce these days, and its presence in the i30 is symbolic of a company that doesn’t cut corners.

Other important factors include a five-star ANCAP safety rating, up to 1300kg of towing capacity, a brilliant five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with one year free roadside assistance and capped-price servicing at 15,000km intervals.

2018 Hyundai i30 Premium diesel – THE DRIVE

The diesel variant of the i30 is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged oil burner, making 100kW at 4000rpm and 300Nm between 1750-2500rpm. It is hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox – one of few diesels in the industry with a dual-clutch auto – and fuel economy is quoted at 4.7L/100km.

The i30 1.6 diesel demonstrates the refinement and smooth torque delivery you might expect from a premium European touring car. Those attributes shine through on freeways and coarse chip roads, too.

There are a few issues we didn’t pick up at the launch, however. These include the dual-clutch transmission’s tendency to roll back between drive and reverse, and sluggish response off the line. This could be alleviated with a conventional torque-converter auto and something to help the turbocharger spool up faster, like Volvo’s clever pressurised-air system. A 0-100km/h acceleration time of 10.43 seconds is nothing to write home about, but an average of 6.0L/100km on test in the real world is pretty close to the 4.7 claim.

We noticed there is an overly firm low-speed ride in our opinion. In a luxury variant, maybe a touch more plushness would be welcome, but we understand Australian customers’ preference for a firmer suspension setup, for superior handling, often wins.

The stitched steering wheel is compact and well-shaped in a way that invites spirited cornering. Response and turn-in is eager and immediate, giving you the confidence to place the i30 in tight and sweeping corners alike. The chassis is always composed with little weight transfer noticeable at surprisingly high speeds. While steering and rear suspension are not as tactile or dynamic as in the Mazda3 or Ford Focus, or even the i30 SR which features a multilink rear end compared with the beam-style on this Premium, the i30 is still genuinely rewarding to drive at an enthusiastic limit.

2018 Hyundai i30 Premium diesel – THE VIDEO

2018 Hyundai i30 Premium diesel – THE VERDICT

The i30’s value, after care package, generous standard equipment list combined with European styling and great driving manners are part of the formula that has established its success here. The new generation is a leap forward in design inside and out, quality, is even better to drive and brings features not seen before.

It’s hard not to be impressed by such a thoughtfully engineered car that wants to over deliver. Performance of the diesel version is ordinary in straight line terms, but more than acceptable in day-to-day driving, with decent torque for highway overtaking. The real-world economy boost is a worthy trade-off.

As for our friend with the anti-Hyundai prejudice, after one drive the question was put; would you put this on your shopping list? This was answered with, “Hmm.. I’d consider it.” That’s as good as it gets for someone who wants extra badge credibility and status with their expensive vehicle purchase.

In the meantime, as Hyundai expands into luxury and sporty cars, it works hard on creating a broader, more upmarket image. We hope Hyundai keeps this attitude and never becomes complacent like some other manufacturers – some of whom will give you a can of goo and a cigarette lighter inflater instead of a spare tyre, for God’s sake.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Fresh, appealing design
– Logical interior with great ergonomics; calming interior colours
– Quiet and refined diesel
– Great fuel economy
– Loaded with luxury features
– Outstanding warranty, servicing and roadside assistance package
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Dual-clutch gearbox seems hesitant; probably not suited to diesel
– Average performance
– Same six-speaker stereo as base model
– Getting up there on price
– Enjoyable but lacks outright engagement of Focus, Mazda3[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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