The hatch was the Carsguide car of the year in 2007.
Now Hyundai is following up the success of its best-selling Euro-styled i30 hatch with a family friendly wagon, called the i30cw, for “crossover wagon”.
The newest Hyundai is $1500 more than the hatch, with prices starting at $20,890 and Hyundai is confident it will be a runaway success like the five-door hatch.
Engines choices are a 1.6-litre petrol four cylinder and 1.6-litre four cylinder CRDi turbo-diesel.
Launched this month, the i30cw is based on the hatch but is slightly longer, delivering wagon practicality and flexibility. Two models will be available, the SX, SLX and for a short time a launch-edition Sportswagon is also on sale.
The auto-only $29,990 Sportswagon uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine and shares its name with the popular Hyundai Lantra Sportswagon models from the 1990s.
Hyundai Australia expects to sell about 500 Sportswagon models and the company’s Australian chief executive, Steve Yeo, says it may become a permanent part of the lineup.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he says.
The i30 Sportswagon has 17-inch alloys with chrome inserts, side repeaters in the outside mirrors, iPod, USB and auxiliary connectivity, six-speakers, leather interior, steering wheel mounted audio controls, six airbags and electronic stability control.
Yeo says space is the wagon’s big selling point.
At 4475mm, the cw is 230mm longer than the hatch and sits on a 50mm longer wheelbase, which translates into more rear passenger and luggage room.
The wagon is also 40mm taller than the hatch while the luggage area has 415 litres of space with the rear seats up and 1395 litres with the rear seats folded.
Hyundai says the luggage area will accommodate a full-size stroller or bike.
Like the hatch, the wagon gets electronic stability control, traction control, anti-skid brakes and active headrests and a five-star crash rating.
The SLX and Sportswagon add driver and front passenger side (thorax) airbags and curtain airbags, which are a $700 option on SX models.
All wagons get a full size spare with an alloy spare in the SLX and Sportswagon.
The i30cw also gains Hyundai’s active locking system, called HALO, which automatically locks all doors when car reaches 40 km/h.
The doors automatically unlock when the key is removed from the ignition. However, front seat occupants can override the system to easily exit the car.
Hyundai’s director of sales and marketing, Kevin McCann, is confident the wagon will repeat the sales success of the hatch.
“The hatch was the fourth best selling small hatch in February,” he says.
The i30cw will muscle in on the Holden Viva estate and Peugeot's 207 and 308 wagons, but with the Holden Astra as its nearest price rival, the crossover wagon is tipped to be popular with both fleets and private buyers.
The company expects to sell about 100 a month, many to “lifestyle” buyers who do not want, or need an off-roader, according to the company’s general manager marketing, Oliver Mann.
“Less than 30,000 wagons were sold last year, about 3 per cent of the overall market,” he says.
“By comparison SUVs make up 21 per cent of the market but there are signs this is plateauing.”
Mann says the he believes the i30 wagon has the ability to lure disenchanted buyers from larger off-roaders because of its space, practicality and compact size.
“But it’s still a roomy car,” he says.
ON THE ROAD
It is really no surprise the i30 station wagon behaves in a similar manner to the hatch.
They share much underneath, including engines and suspensions.
After a brief stint in the 1.6 CRDi SLX and 2.0 Sportswagon, there is no doubt Hyundai has another hit on its hands.
The packaging is right, the size is right and the price is right.
As with the hatch, the wagon gets well positioned, legible controls that could have come from a Volkswagen. All controls have a quality and durable feel.
But the real news is out the back.
The car’s extra length translates into space where it’s often neglected, in the back seat and luggage area.
The rear seat has plenty of legroom for an adult even if there is a taller person in the driver’s seat.
The 60/40 split fold rear seats are easy to lower for an almost flat luggage floor. However, unlike some prestige wagons, the seat cushion does not fold up and out of the way.
There are some nice practical touches.
Hyundai has picked up some sensible innovations from some of the prestige European wagons, like the luggage barrier net that can be used behind the rear seat or front seats to stop items from moving forward.
The luggage net is a standard inclusion as well as the luggage cover. There’s even room around the full size spare to hide items.
Behind the wheel the wagon mirrors the hatch. Hyundai has come very far with its design and soft-touch, high-class interiors but the i30’s suspension still needs some work.
The wagon remains reasonably composed over smooth roads but when things deteriorate, so does some of the suspension’s overall poise.
In the Sportswagon the car’s 17-inch tyre package gives the car a more surefooted stance and the steering feedback feels better but road noise does seem to be more instrusive.
Road noise in both the petrol and diesel wagons is suitably muted on smooth roads but over rougher potholed back roads the suspension can crash over bumps and some noise is transmitted into the cabin. It’s not nasty but something to bear in mind.
Both the Hancook tyres on the SLX and the Kumho Solux tyres on the Sportswagon provided plenty of grip and the brakes felt strong.
Hyundai says the suspension in the wagon has been tuned with Australia in mind but a little more development may be needed.
However, it must be said that in its price segment many buyers will be coming out of older wagons and hatches, so driving the i30, in either hatch or wagon variants, will still be something of a revelation.
Perhaps where the i30cw is lagging some of its competitors is with transmissions. Hyundai is working on a new six-speed sequential shift auto but the i30 gets a fairly conventional four-speed automatic and five-speed manual when some of the Euros now have six-speed manuals and automatics available.
Hyundai expects most buyers to opt for the four-speed auto, which performs adequately in both the CRDi and petrol models.
The wagon tips the scales, marginally heavier than the hatch, about 40kg to 44kg depending on specifications.
That means the 85kW/255Nm CRDi turbo diesel has no trouble doing its job. This engine is very smooth, quiet and according to Hyundai’s figures, delivers a combined fuel economy figure of 4.9 litres/100km for the manual and 6.0 litres/100km for the four-speed automatic.
There’s a lot to commend the i30 wagon and it again proves that Hyundai is maturing quickly as a brand and it is continuing its pursuit of higher quality and design.
2.0 petrol SX, SLX and Sportswagon:
105 kW @ 6000 revs and 186 Nm @ 4500 revs
1.6 CRDi turbo diesel SX and SLX:
85 kW @ 4000 revs and 255Nm @ 1900 to 2750 revs
SX 2.0 petrol 5 speed manual $20,890
SX 2.0 petrol 4 speed auto $22,890
SX 1.6 CRDi turbo Diesel 5 speed manual $23,390
SX 1.6 CRDi turbo Diesel 4 speed auto $25,390
SLX 2.0 petrol 4 speed auto $27,390
SLX 1.6 CRDi turbo Diesel 4 speed auto $29,890
Sportswagon 2.0 petrol 4 speed auto $29,990
metallic / mica paint $320
Protectz pack for SX $700
Cruise control with cruise control, foglights for SX $400