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The station wagon bodystyle has become something of a black swan in the motoring world.
Now a relatively unfashionable choice compared with small SUVs, many people see the wagon as a monument to conservatism, while the SUV promises an image of an exciting active lifestyle.
But there are still many good reasons to buy a wagon like the Hyundai i30 Tourer over a similarly-priced SUV.
The Hyundai i30 Tourer range starts at $24,990 with the petrol-powered Active manual and tops out at $33,440 with the Elite diesel.
Our test car was the $29,840 Active diesel with automatic transmission, representing a middle ground in the Tourer range.
The Active comes standard with Bluetooth phone and audio, Auxiliary 3.5mm and USB inputs, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and cruise control.
Opting for the range-topping Elite adds auto headlights and wipers, satnav, push button start with proximity keys, and dual-zone climate control.
Main rivals to the i30 Tourer include the Volkswagen Golf wagon and Holden Cruze wagon.
The Cruze is cheaper, bigger and can be had with a larger diesel engine than the Hyundai, but lacks the interior quality, style and outright efficiency of the Korean car.
The Golf is more expensive, but it too is larger and more powerful than the Hyundai.
The Hyundai i30 is a great looking car. The youthful lines and bold surfacing give the car a level of individuality and appeal that its conservative rivals can’t match.
Has adding a big boot spoiled the design? Not completely, it still looks unmistakably like an i30, as much of the sheetmetal is shared with the hatchback.
The extra volume above and behind the rear wheelarch can look slightly awkward from certain angles, but overall it’s still an attractive design.
The Tourer shares its 2650mm wheelbase with its hatchback brother, but a taller and longer bodyshell has resulted in a significant increase in interior volume.
Compared to the hatchback, the i30 Tourer enjoys a handy 150-litres of extra cargo space at 528-litres VDA seats up and an additional 326-litres seats-down for a total of 1642-litres VDA.
The Tourer also features even more cargo space than Hyundai's ix35 SUV with an additional 63-litres VDA seats up and 206-litres VDA seats down.
Inside, the i30 is a pleasant and comfortable place to spend time. The materials feel soft and high quality, while the overall design and layout of all the buttons feels intuitive.
The dashboard and centre console look good, too. The design is more interesting and possibly more appealing than what Volkswagen offers, without appearing messy or confused.
The front seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered and it’s easy to find the ideal driving position with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment available.
Rear seat accommodation is sufficient with plenty of headroom, although legroom may leave something to be desired by taller passengers.
Our i30 Tourer Active test car was fitted with a 94kW/260Nm 1.6-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engine and six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.
Official combined fuel consumption is a respectable 5.8L/100km, making the i30 more fuel-efficient than the 6.7L/100km diesel Cruze wagon but thirstier than the 4.7L/100km Golf.
The Hyundai i30 Tourer carries a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating and comes equipped with dual front, side and full-length head-protecting airbags, plus a driver knee airbag.
Electronic stability and traction control systems are fitted along with ABS and EBD skid-prevention programs.
Unlike the five-door i30 hatch, the Tourer uses an independent rear suspension layout rather than a torsion beam, and is sourced from Europe.
This extra level of chassis sophistication means that the Tourer, while bigger and heavier than the hatchback it’s based on, drives very well.
There are definite similarities between the way the i30 feels on the road compared to the Golf wagon. The positioning of the pedals and the control weights are all reminiscent of the class-leading VW product – certainly a good thing.
The i30 is fitted with electric power steering with three different modes that offer varying degrees of assistance. Comfort mode feels a bit too light and elastic, while the difference between Normal and Sport modes is negligible.
Neither steering settings offer genuine feedback, but Normal and Sport modes give a meatier feel.
The Tourer rides in a controlled but reasonably smooth manner, with only very poor tarmac causing the body to jiggle uncomfortably.
The i30 corners keenly and with minimal body roll. Grip is good and the chassis has a nice balance to it and feels like it could handle a chunk more power than what’s currently available.
The 1.6-litre engine is smooth and refined for a diesel and offers enough punch around town but can feel a little lethargic at higher speeds.
A healthy 260Nm of torque available from 1900-2750rpm makes up for the lack of top-end performance, but overtaking can be tedious.
The six-speed auto is a willing accomplice and operates smoothly. While it can't match the seamless shifts of VW’s dual-clutch DSG transmission at speed, the conventional auto counteracts with calm low-speed driveability that can hinder auto VWs at times.
A sequential-style shift mode can be selected by moving the gear lever to the left, but shift requests take too long to process so the idea seems redundant.
The Hyundai i30 Tourer diesel is a compelling and well-executed, yet inexpensive station wagon.
Interior fit and finish in the i30 are streets ahead of the older ix35 design and approaching German standards, and the Tourer is a well-mannered and comfortable cruiser on road.
If you can resist the urge to buy an SUV, the Hyundai i30 Tourer is definitely worth a look.
|ACTIVE||1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$9,913 – 14,950||2014 Hyundai I30 2014 ACTIVE Pricing and Specs|
|ACTIVE 1.6 CRDi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$10,000 – 16,988||2014 Hyundai I30 2014 ACTIVE 1.6 CRDi Pricing and Specs|
|ELITE||1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$11,998 – 14,990||2014 Hyundai I30 2014 ELITE Pricing and Specs|
|ELITE 1.6 CRDi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$11,985 – 15,450||2014 Hyundai I30 2014 ELITE 1.6 CRDi Pricing and Specs|