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Hyundai i30 first drive – a significant number

Call me diligent and hardworking but prior to attending the NZ launch of Hyundai’s all-new i30, I did a little research. Not on the car but on the other i30; Interstate 30 in the US. I was hoping to find some gem of information to regale and entertain you but as it turns out, it’s just a relatively straight bit of asphalt that runs from Texas to Arkansas. However, it did get me thinking about the number 30 and it’s significance in the world that surrounds us.

In relationship/marriage terms 30 year wedding anniversary is a Pearl, in the UK 30mph is the urban speed limit, in Science it’s the atomic number of zinc, in music it’s the number of tracks on the Beatles ‘White’ album and last but not least in journalistic terms, -30- features as an end of transmission or news story – which I guess brings me onto the new Hyundai i30 and essentially what I am here to tell you all about.

In a very un-press like fashion, Hyundai let us get a feel for their new i30 hatchback before ‘telling’ us about its reinvention – and not just a quick ride around the block either. Hats off to Hyundai NZ, they had organised some mammoth amount of behind the wheel time for us and rather than the aforementioned drab US interstate, it was a 4ish hour joyous ride from Auckland to Kauri Cliffs in Matauri Bay Northland. The route encompassed taking the back rural roads, some motorway and a spot of lunch in the city of Whangarei and in typical NZ style the weather threw, high winds, heavy rain and glorious bouts of sunshine.

Free of the city; we traveled along the Kaipara highway, through small towns such as Kaukapakapa, Mangakura and Tauhoa to join state highway 1 in Wellsford. Despite the rainfall and greasy road conditions, the drive was much easier than pronouncing the town names we passed through. We were driving the 1.6L Turbo GDi LTD. The 7-speed DCT gearbox is rapid and efficient and the turbo appeared to join us at around 4,500 revs (reported 265Nm/1,500 & 150kW/6,000) adding both voice and speed. Its 18” alloy wheels and enhanced suspension (I’ll get to that soon) gripped the tarseal well, albeit not without a certain amount of road rumble.

From the outside, the all-new i30 is quite the Euro hatch. Its cascading waterfall grille is very much a feature. Integrate LED lights, vertical running lights, a strong shoulder line and twin exhausts out the back. The full-length panoramic sunroof flooded the cabin with light and accentuated the extent of the i30’s cabin space. It’s modern, fresh (and with the red accents, stitching and seat belts) very sporty. The Infotainment system is brought to you via an 8” floating screen and connects easily to Android Auto and Carplay. Nigh on an hour into the drive, a coffee cup (image only, unfortunately) popped up on the instrument cluster suggesting that we take a break. It’s the first time a car has broken up with and apparently it’s me, not the i30. The DAA ‘Driver Attention Alert’ is part of the Hyundai SmartSense features, it monitors your driving progress, lane crossing, erratic behaviour etc and acts accordingly – I didn’t think I was doing that badly!

We arrived at Kauri Cliffs resort mid afternoon (after a break for lunch at The Quay in Whangarei) and I have to say the place is gobsmacking. The sun had appeared (surrounded by blue sky) and the estate’s backdrop of flowing fairways and South Pacific Ocean was well worth the long drive. I could seriously rave on and on about the clubhouse, grounds and accommodation – maybe next time.

On with the briefing. The 2017 model of the i30 (codename PD) is Hyundai’s 3rd generation and they’ve really gone to town, paying attention to virtually everything, styling, driving dynamics, safety and comfort – I guess that’s why they are calling it a re-invention.

As I said before, the styling was designed and developed in good old Europe and it shows, however, there is still more than just a nod towards the previous (GD) model’s good looks. The i30 gained a little in length (+40mm) and width (+15mm) but dropped in height (-15mm) but don’t worry all you tall people out there, the interior headroom is still good, plus you can now spread out a bit more. LED tail lights, twin exhaust pipes and a roof side spoiler make up the rear, a strong shoulder line and slightly accentuated arches give a clean profile with vertical daytime running lamps and a ‘cascade’ grille are big front features.

Through extensive testing (168 different driving situations, 208 Shocks, 11 spring rates) in the harsh Aussie outback, the Chassis, Suspension and Steering have all been re-tuned. The result is a sure-footed hatch that handles the corners well and the uneven surfaces with ease.

The Hyundai techy team have evidently been let out of their cages and have (Model dependant) loaded the new i30 with sensors – optic, ultrasonic and radar to make up SmartSense.  SmartSense adds an extra dimension (or two) to the comfort and safety of the i30 driver and passengers. Blind spot, Lane change and rear cross traffic all come in as standard while AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), Forward Collision, Smart Cruise Control, Advanced Lane Keep Assist, and the aforementioned DAA come in as you progress up the model range.

On the subject of range, the re-invented i30 comes in ‘Entry’, 2l GDi (120kW/203Nm) with a 6-speed auto box, ‘Elite’ (same drivetrain but more options and 17” wheels) and ‘Limited’ with all the options and the 1.6l Turbo engine. There are 7 exterior colour options (I’d hoped for 30) and the interior is kept simple with either black or black/red trim.

Although the small car market is currently experiencing speed bumps (insert a coffee cup image here) there is no doubt that the i30 is still very much a significant number in Hyundai’s range of vehicles. The re-invented PD feels good on the road and was comfortable in the variety of weather conditions NZ threw at us. The new look is smart and modern (inside and out) and very much in keeping with the continuing progression of the Hyundai brand itself. Just quietly though, I can’t wait to get my hands on their i30N.


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