Ford Focus ST-Line hatch 2019 review
Wait, what? Small cars for families? Well, they can be, if you choose the right one. Ford’s Focus...
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The third-generation i30's SR version was a very, very good warm hatch. I drove one last year and the house's hardest marker, my wife, remarked how good it was to drive.
Strong engine, good chassis and steering we both quite liked. "If we have to buy a car," she said seriously, "We should get one of these." This is not something I hear often.
With the roaring success of Hyundai's long-awaited i30 N, the new branding has made its way into the range as an option for the keener driver.
It's not an original idea, nor is it a new one, but Australians do seem to like it in their German cars, so Hyundai gave it a lash.
|Hyundai I30 2019: N Line|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
At its core, though, it's the same car, just with more luxury, like the i30 N Premium. You can't have a manual Premium but given you're paying $5000 for a lot of stuff you may not want or need, you won't lose out by getting the "standard' car.
The Premium's spec sheet lists 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled electrically-adjustable front seats, power everything, leather seats, leather wheel, leather shifter, seven-speaker stereo, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, a comprehensive safety package, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers and a space saver spare.
The stereo, sat nav and various settings appear on the 8.0-inch screen affixed to the dash. The Hyundai software is alright, the hardware is good so it's snappy and easy to use and with the USB port available you can hook up you Android or Apple device for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You also get DAB radio, which is nice.
The N-Line is a bit more aggro than the SR it replaces, with some sharper edges from the i30 N it aspires to be. New front and rear bumpers and various coloured accents - as well as a rear diffuser and dual exhaust - make the N Line a sporty-looking proposition. It's mostly bark without the savage bite, but it's good.
Inside is largely standard i30 fare, with some dodgy plastics if you go looking and some very convincing fake leather. It's a very good interior, with excellent ergonomics and a good fit and finish.
The red piping and stitching on the seats look the business and I don't know about you, but I am absolutely on board with the red seat belts.
Front seat passengers score two cupholders, a space under the climate controls for your phone and Qi wireless charging pad, sunglasses holder, a central console bin of a small but handy size and a good size glove box.
Each door has a bottle holder for a total of four in the car and the rear seat passengers score a pair of cupholders as well.
Rear seat room is okay for the segment while boot space is quite competitive at 395 litres and there isn't a bracing bar in the way like in the i30 N. With the seats down, space increases to 1301 litres.
Hyundai's 1.6-litre T-GDi engine is along for the ride, unchanged from the SR with 150kW/265Nm, both of which are healthy figures.
A Hyundai-made and developed seven-speed twin-clutch transmission sends the power to the front wheels.
Sadly, there isn't any tricky fuel-saving tech or energy recovery to cut fuel use.
Surprisingly, you can tow up to 1400kg, which is almost the same weight as the car itself.
The official sticker on the windscreen that reminds the neighbours you've just bought a new car says the i30 N Line will score 7.8L/100km on the combined cycle.
After a week of scooting about, including a couple of highway runs, I got remarkably close at 8.4L/100km, something I've noticed on a number of Hyundais over the years.
The car runs happily on standard 91 RON unleaded, and you'll need 50 litres of it to fill the tank.
The previous SR's blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert functions are missing from the N-Line, which is a bit cheeky given the $500 price rise.
The i30 range scored a maximum five-star ANCAP assessment in April 2017.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
Keep taking the car back to Hyundai for a service and they'll keep extending the roadside assist. It doesn't get much better than that, apart from Kia.
Hyundai expects you to service the car every 12 months or 10,000km. The latter feels a bit short, but that's this engine and transmission's only gotcha.
Most services are $269 with the occasional breach of the $300 mark and as the car heads into its seventh year, the prices start to climb.
As I've already mentioned, the SR counted me among one of its fans. Quick and agile, it had hot hatch handling with warm hatch performance. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but you had to be working it hard to upset it.
And the N Line is still a cracker. As with the SR, it's based on the version of the i30 with the multi-link rear suspension (the Go and Active make do with torsion beams), is 5.0mm lower to the ground, has stiffer springs and dampers and big Michelin tyres to bite into the tarmac.
And bite they do. The N Line doesn't have any trick adaptive dampers or other cleverness, but the N Line walks the line between hardcore-too-hard and really-why-bother-too-soft.
In the past these 'sporty' gussy-ups were just stickers and skirts, but Hyundai seems quite serious about this N business.
The electric steering is as good as ever in normal and sport modes. Predictably 'Eco' mode is best left alone as it just ruins everything.
Hyundai's 1.6 turbo is a good if uncharismatic unit, with a fairly uninspiring sound. It does rev happily, though, and the strong power and torque figures mean it gets along very smartly.
The seven-speed 'DCT' isn't one of the finer dual-clutch transmissions on the market, though. It tends to roll back on inclines and can get a little shunty, but all is forgiven with quick shifts and it responds well to the paddles.
The only other real complaint is the ride can be a bit on the firm side. Whereas in the poppy-bangy i30 N you've got adaptive dampers, when things get a bit on the rough side, rear seat passengers may not appreciate the handling-focussed damping.
Doesn't happen often, but given Australian roads surfaces are about as smooth as a Pauline Hanson press conference, it's worth knowing.
Happily, the N-Line has picked up where the SR left off, meaning the i30 range has a fine warm hatch if you can't, or won't, stretch to the hot hatch N. The Premium looks pricey next to the standard N-Line cars, with a few extra safety bits and not a lot else.
So, if you don't need those extras, give the Premium a miss. The N-Line idea, though, is hard to ignore. It's great to drive, has a little bit of N goodness sprinkled on the chassis and gives the i30 some visual aggro to go with it.
|Active||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$14,300 – 20,130||2019 Hyundai i30 2019 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Active 1.6 Crdi||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$16,100 – 22,440||2019 Hyundai i30 2019 Active 1.6 Crdi Pricing and Specs|
|Active 1.6 Crdi Smartsense||1.6L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$19,000 – 26,510||2019 Hyundai i30 2019 Active 1.6 Crdi Smartsense Pricing and Specs|
|Active Smartsense||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$17,200 – 23,980||2019 Hyundai i30 2019 Active Smartsense Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|