New i30: Extra dash, more dosh?

Get more, spend more: That’s the experience for our neighbour in respect to the new Hyundai i30. Should Kiwis expect the same scenario?


EXPECTATION of the latest i30 arriving with the sting of a sizeable price increase – and possibility some models might skip the safety update that warrants this sticker hike - appears likely if Australian market experience carries to this side of the Tasman.

Though the utterly revised new line is set to come on sale in just a month, Hyundai New Zealand has yet to give any inkling about the specification, sales plan and price positioning for a hatch and wagon line that presently spans seven derivatives and costs from $31,990 to $43,990.

Fresh styling and improvements in ride, performance and in-cabin comforts are important changes for i30, but the more important news for fleet buyers who traditionally buy the bulk of compact hatchbacks these days is the arrival of an active safety package.

The provision of the SmartSense suite of aides is a primary reason why the car has been meted a top five-star score in the ANCAP safety test which is part-funded by the Government and New Zealand agencies, including the Automobile Association.

It’s also mainly why our neighbours are paying on average around $5000 for every new model than they did previously.

The package includes autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, driver attention alert, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert and smart cruise control.

However, when it released the car in Australia a fortnight ago, Hyundai had to admit it will not be able to provision its base model with SmartSafe until later in the year.

Whether that occurs here, too, is yet to be spelled out, however there is some likelihood given that the national distributor has previously shown tendency to replicate Australian market specifications for local introduction.

It’s a ‘big brother’ protection that works well to ensure supply consistency, because Australia is given a priority by Seoul for export product – not simply because it takes big volumes but also because it is factory-run.

Also, i30 has been a particularly strong performer across the Tasman, enjoying a higher penetration than it achieves here – in capturing 30 percent of all Hyundai sales it, in fact, enjoys one of the highest imprints internationally for the car.

Beyond SmartSense, the i30 offers reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, tyre-pressure monitoring and parking sensors, the highest-end car adopting the sensors up front to abet the standard-fare rear devices. The range also offers airbags covering the front and rear, ISOFIX, seatbelt reminders and more.

This is the third-generation i30, following lines that came out in 2007 and 2011 respectively, and also the first Hyundai to display the new-look ‘cascading grille’ intended to look like molten metal being poured out. The bob-tail rear is modelled off the Tucson’s back end.

Beyond the sharp new styling, the new i30 is 40mm longer than the old car, 15mm wider and 15mm lower through the roofline.

There’s one infotainment screen across the range and it’s an eight-inch unit that runs the latest-generation of Hyundai’s infotainment system and offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and the most expensive models seem set to have wireless charging.

We can expect all variants to improve for fit and finish and materials used in the cabin. Hyundai has nabbed an ex-Bugatti materials expert to tweak the materials and feel of the surfaces in its cars, and she worked on the new i30.

Powertrain-wise, there’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that is a carry over from the old car and offering up 120kW at 6200rpm and 203Nm of torque at 4700rpm, pluse a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine for the more expensive variants. This creates 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm. Also offered across the Tasman is the 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel that delivers 100kW at 4000rpm and 280Nm of torque from 1500-3000rpm (manual) and 300Nm from 1750-2500rpm for the automatic. Actually, not quite correct – the new two-pedal box option is not an orthodox auto but a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. There’s also a six-speed manual.

Reports from the Australian launch say all three engines are excellent with enough grunt for overtaking and flattening hills, but the turbocharged petrol in the SR is considered an extra sweet powerplant.

As is traditional for Korean fare here, the Australasian product has a bespoke suspension and steering tune. Hyundai Australia’s ride and handling team experimented with 208 different damper settings, 13 different spring sets and seven anti-roll bars. The steering has also been tweaked with a faster rack offering 2.57 turns lock-to-lock, down from more than three in domestic spec.

One more point of difference: The torsion beam rear suspension is maintained except for a mild performance edition, called SR across the Tasman. This gets a multi-link rear end. Intriguingly, reports so far suggest the ride and handling characteristic across the range is almost identical.

Speaking of sport, Hyundai will also present the i30 locally as far more hardened N-Sport edition, potentially by the end of this year.

That car has been the basis for the TCR – for Touring Car Racing – car that it plans to enter into European circuit motorsport; the tie appears more coherent that the one that binds the i20 road car here to the i20 World Rally Car driven by our own Hayden Paddon.

Hyundai has just released images of the TCR from three days of testing in Spain to fine tune the brakes and suspension.

At the wheel was Gabriele Tarquini, who after a stint as a Formula One driver rose to become a world touring car driver of great repute, highlights of his career including snaring the world title in 2009. He was a Honda WTC driver until being dropped last year, and became available to the Hyundai project after the Lada team he had aligned with fell out.