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Hyundai i30 Active diesel 2016 review

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the Hyundai i30 Active diesel with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the Hyundai i30 Active diesel with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the Hyundai i30 Active diesel with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Meet the Danni Minogue of Hyundai i30s. You see, even though the i30 is so hugely popular and 2015's third-best-selling car it's the petrol version of it that accounts for 96 per cent of the sales. This review is not on that car. It's on the nowhere-near-as-popular sister to that car - the diesel i30.

So why the big difference in popularity when in this case the siblings are identical in almost every way apart from what they drink? And why, according to Hyundai, do the majority of i30 Active diesel buyers live in rural areas?

The i30's main rivals – the ones that beat it to the No.1 and No.2 spots in 2015 are the Mazda3 and the Toyota Corolla. But the i30 doesn't have much in the way of direct diesel rivals. There's a top-spec diesel version of the Mazda3, but Corollas only come in petrol. Ford axed its diesel Focus in 2015 and Holden dumped its diesel Cruze that year, too. But there's always the die-hard diesel French with the Peugeot 308 or Citroen C4 and the German Volkswagen's Golf.

We tested the base spec of the diesel i30 range – the Active. Pay a bit more and you can step up to the Active X or above that the SR, then the SR Premium and the Premium.

We've also recently road tested the i30 Active with the petrol engine and you can read our review here.

Design

The first generation i30 came to Australia in 2007 and ran through until 2012 when the second generation arrived. In the 2015 update Hyundai gave this i30 a slight makeover with a flatter bolder grille and different design to the innards of the headlights.

Two words to describe the cabin? Stylish, hardwearing.

The styling tweaks can't hide that the i30 is starting to age. One family member didn't believe me when I told them it was the new one: "I feel like that one's been around for ever," they said. Yes it does feel a bit like that.

Still it's a good looking hatch, but then so are its main rivals such as the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3. It's not as big as them either at 4300mm long it's 160mm shorter than the Mazda and 30mm less than the Toyota.

Two words to describe the cabin? Stylish, hardwearing. Only after becoming a parent do I see the immense value in this, you can have an interior which looks good and hoses out – actually don't hose it out, but most of the materials feel tough and easily cleanable.

Practicality

The i30 is smaller than the Corolla and Mazda3, but its 378 litre boot is bigger – 14 litres more than the Mazda and 98 litres more than the Toyota.

The cabin of the i30 is roomy upfront, with comfortable seats, well positioned pedals and a logical sense to where all your controls should be.

I'm 191cm and can sit behind my own driving position, but only just. The backs of the front seats are hard plastic which will seem cheap to some, but smart to others who like the idea it won't tear from being kicked or stained with a tiny handful of mashed banana chucked at it.

There's two cupholders up front near the handbrake and two in the fold-down centre armrest in the back.

It's good to see an affordable car with more than just an interior light over the dashboard – there's another in the middle of the roof, too.

Price and features

Priced at $25,890 the diesel Active with the auto is $2600 more than its petrol equivalent. This is normal – diesels generally cost more than petrol versions.

Standard features are mighty good for the price and entry-spec car at this price.

On the plus side this is the most affordable small diesel hatch on the market – the Mazda3 XD costs $41,290, while the Golf 110TDI $35,490, the Citroen C4 $44,990 and the Peugeot 308 Allure is $33,686.

Standard features are mighty good for the price and entry-spec car at this price. There's a seven-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity rear parking sensors, cooled glovebox, a USB port and three 12 volt outlets.

The 2015 update added a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay as standard. The camera flips up from under the badge on the boot and works well. Apple CarPlay is life-changing by moving the functions of your iPhone to the car's screen – so you can hear and dictate your text messages, use your maps and stream music.

Engine and transmission

The 1.6-litre four cylinder turbo diesel engine makes almost as much power as the petrol at 100kW but it's the 300Nm of torque that's impressive. Torque is how strong the force turning the wheels is and diesel engines produce stacks of it making them making them great at climbing hills and pulling loads which is why trucks use them.

That said Hyundai advises the braked towing capacity of all (petrol and diesel) i30s is 1300kg, but your diesel should be able to tow with less effort. The diesel i30 can carry 50kg more than the maximum load weight of the petrol, and will make it up hills easier, too.

Hyundai Australian engineering department changes the suspension of their cars to better suit our roads, and right now they are nailing it.

The seven-speed automatic transmission is a dual clutch system, which is good for fuel efficiency but isn't smooth at low speed and this particularly noticeable in bumper to bumper traffic.

Here's a pro tip: to avoid the jerky auto, go for the manual gearbox and save $1900.

Fuel consumption

Diesel engines are generally more fuel efficient. After 355km of highways, inner city and rural driving the indicated average fuel consumption was 5.9L/100km. It's a litre more than Hyundai's claim, but still excellent. Hyundai says the petrol auto gets 7.3L/100km in combined driving – so if you are looking for another reason apart from more oomph, then better fuel economy may save you dollars in the long-term if you're covering big miles.

This may explain the bigger uptake of the car in rural areas, where the distances can be big and the terrain hilly – plus the fuel of choice on farms is diesel already.

Driving

Hyundai Australian engineering department changes the suspension of their cars to better suit our roads, and right now they are nailing it. We drove our diesel i30 over pretty much every surface you're going to encounter from gravel roads and country to highways, smooth suburban streets and shoddy inner city and the suspension coped impressively returning an excellent ride. Handling is also great for this segment – it's no high-performance beast, but it's firm enough to give you a feel of connection to the road and makes driving fun.

Again it must be said, that the auto is better on the open road. So while country and highway miles were enjoyable, the same can't be said for crawling slowly around the city where a traditional torque converter auto, such as in the petrol i30, is so much smoother.

Safety

When the first i30 went on sale here it arrived with a five star ANCAP crash test rating. It was a big deal – the first Korean car that had scored that high. The current i30 of course is a five star car, too and comes with traction and stability control, EBD and ABS. There are three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts in the back for childseats.

Ownership

The i30 has Hyundai's five year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The first service at one month or 1500km is free, after that servcing should be done at 12 month or 15,000km intervals and is capped at $249 per service for three years.

Verdict

Calling the diesel the Danni Minogue of i30s isn't fair at all, because while it's not quite as popular it is almost as good as the petrol and in some ways better. The dual-clutch auto lets the driving experience down a little with its annoying lurching in city stop start traffic, yet some owners would get used to this – I couldn't. And as the data shows the majority of buyers of the diesel don't live in cities. Apart from that, the i30 Active diesel is a great value, practical and fun car that's hard to beat when held up to its rivals.

Do you prefer cars with diesel or petrol engines? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Hyundai i30 Active pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$18,990
Based on 342 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$12,990
Highest Price
$24,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
SR 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $13,300 – 19,250 2016 Hyundai I30 2016 SR Pricing and Specs
Active 1.6 Crdi 1.6L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $13,200 – 19,140 2016 Hyundai I30 2016 Active 1.6 Crdi Pricing and Specs
Active 1.8L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,800 – 17,270 2016 Hyundai I30 2016 Active Pricing and Specs
SR Premium 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,500 – 24,310 2016 Hyundai I30 2016 SR Premium Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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