If you are in the market for a small car here is one not to miss. The new Hyundai i30 hatch is proof of how rapidly the company has grasped the art of making a sophisticated and zippy not-so-small car.
Prices are sharp, ranging from $20,990 for the petrol manual to $32,590 for the premium diesel automatic.
Standard equipment is impressive for the price. It includes seven airbags, stability control, brake assist, rear parking sensors, a 125mm colour monitor with Bluetooth, iPod, MP3 and USB connection, cruise control and trip computer, power windows, three settings for steering, but a temporary spare. All models come with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty fully transferable to subsequent owners.
Styling is eye catching with strong sculptured lines and a distinct Euro flavour, enhanced by a long wheelbase and short overhangs. Inside there is generous head, leg and shoulder room, abundant storage and a generous load area. The interior is tastefully styled and well finished with clear and easy to use controls, comfortable seats and generous head and legroom.
New for this year is a 1.8-litre petrol engine replacing the previous 2.0-litre petrol and an upgraded 1.6-litre turbo diesel, both delivering more power while using less fuel especially in automatic models, where a six-speed transmission replaces the previous four-speed.
On test was the six-speed petrol manual, the engine now producing 110kW -- a gain of 5kW -- although torque is down from 186Nm to 178Nm. With the help of continuously variable valve timing, fuel use drops by almost 10 per cent to 6.5L/100km in the manual on the combined cycle and on test averaged 7.2l/100km.
The flexibility and smoothness of the engine and the quick and slick gearbox has to be one of the silkiest around. As expected the engine does best with a few revs on board; there is not much pull below 2500rpm, but with a broad spread of ratios and linear power delivery, it gets off the line smartly, has plenty of punch mid-range and settles down to cruise quietly pulling a leisurely (for a small petrol engine) 2250rpm at 100km.
So quiet is the engine at idle, due in part to the hydraulic engine mounts, you need to blip the accelerator to make sure it is still alive. The suspension is up with the best in class delivering a firm yet compliant ride, confident and sporty handling and well weighted and accurate steering.
The savvy second-generation i30 hatch is styled in Germany, built in Korea and tuned for Australian roads and the combination delivers on all fronts in both petrol and diesel.
Hyundai i30 Active
Price: from $20,990
Warranty: 5 years
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cylinder, 110kW/178Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 6.5L/100Km, 156g/km CO2