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Making something look more valuable than it actually is, is never easy (though most politicians do a pretty good job of it), but it's a trick the all-new Hyundai i30 SR pulls off with ease.
But this all-new, third-generation model looks like it has been sent to a European finishing school, with the Korean small hatch returning with a sharp new look and a refined set of manners that have nudged it more upmarket than ever before.
But is it more than just a pretty face?
|Hyundai i30 2017: SR|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
But the standout here has to be the SR's stunning front end, complete with textured grille that delivers a 3D effect when viewed from an angle. That, as well as sleek, swept-back headlights, those vertical running-light strips and the blacked-out front spoiler give the i30 a modern, smooth and European feel when viewed front on.
Step around to the rear, and some of this SR's sporty aspirations become a little more obvious, with a tiny roof spoiler, twin exhaust tips and the splash of red on the SR badging itself.
Inside, the sporty theme continues, with red piping that trims the leather-wrapped seats and steering wheel, and some clever uses of metallic-red inserts that surround the start button and air con dials.
The materials are all nice under the touch - even the door panels and dash are wrapped in soft-touch coverings - and all the key controls, including the easy-to-use touchscreen, point to some serious thought having gone into this cabin.
So, can you tell we like it? Good, because we do.
This new i30 has grown in every direction, now measuring 4340mm in length, 1795mm in width and 1455mm in height.
And that means there's more room for passengers and cargo, and that's most notable in the front half of the cabin, which feels airy and offers plenty of space between driver and passenger.
Front seaters share two 12-volt power outlets, a USB point and an aux-in connection. There are also two cupholders, as well as a narrow, deep storage compartment between the front seats. The mirrors are powered, the windows are powered and everything is easy to get to.
Climb into the backseat, though, and things get a little more basic. There's still a commendable amount of room, even sitting behind my 180cm driving position, but luxuries are few and far between.
There are two ISOFIX attachment points in the back, too, but the whole thing feels basic.
There are no air vents (the traditional lever handbrake apparently doesn't allow for them), nor will you find power outlets, USB points or anything else. There is, however, storage nets on the rear of each front seat, and there's room in each rear door for bottles. Two cupholders are hidden in the pull-down divider that separates the rear seats.
There are two ISOFIX attachment points in the back, too, but the whole thing feels basic. The leather-wrapped seats are lovely, and the integrated speakers look really good. There's just not much in the way of creature comforts.
The 60/40 split rear seats are harder to fold flat, as you need to drop them from the back seat rather than the boot, after ensuring your front seats are pushed far enough forward to accommodate them. But once you do, you'll find there's decent room (395 litres seats up/1301 litres seats down) for cargo, as well as a space-saver spare hidden beneath the flooring panel.
The launch of the all-new i30 earlier this year saw a slight price increase handed out to this SR model - albeit a paltry $100 - but Hyundai reckons the $5000 worth of bonus stuff it has thrown in more than justifies the tiny increase.
Our SR, in manual guise, will set you back $25,950, but it's only the entry point to the sporty-themed SR family, with a seven-speed, dual-clutch auto car also available, which in turn sits below the SR Premium at $33,950.
The exterior basics are all covered, with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs (in cool-looking vertical strips below the main lights) and dusk-sensing, projector headlights, but there's some thoughtful niceties there, too, with "courtesy" lights embedded in the door handles, as well as strip lighting in each wing mirror and a high-mounted brake light above the rear windscreen.
Inside, you'll find leather-trimmed seats, alloy pedals (and three of them, no less), and dual-zone climate with Hyundai's 'Cluster Ionizer' which sounds like something that powers Iron Man, but is actually just a clean-air filter.
On the tech front, expect a (really, very good) 8.0-inch screen that's nav-equipped.
Elsewhere, expect cruise control, auto wipers and powered windows front and rear, along with keyless entry and push-button start.
On the tech front, expect a (really, very good) 8.0-inch screen that's nav-equipped, but will also pair seamlessly with your phone thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That links with a decent six-speaker stereo. There's also a second, 4.2-inch TFT display behind the steering wheel displaying all your driving info.
Under the bonnet lives a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that will generate 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm at 1500rpm. That power is channeled through the SR's six-speed manual gearbox and sent to the front tyres.
Hyundai claims official fuel use of 7.5L/100km on the combined (urban, extra-urban) cycle, though how you use the manual gearbox will have a significant impact on those numbers. Emissions are a claimed 176g/km of CO2.
We recorded 9.5L/100km (courtesy of the on-board trip computer) on test, and helpfully, the SR's 50-litre tank will happily drink cheaper, 91RON fuel.
We've accused Hyundai's warm hatches of being something closer to tepid in the past, but the i30 SR - in manual guise, at least - churned out enough perkiness to justify the warmed-over title.
For one, the wheels will chirp like caged birds when you pounce on the gas from a standing start, and while there's a single, automatic setting for the steering, suspension and accelerator mapping, Hyundai's local tuning program - and the SR's more complicated rear suspension set-up - has worked genuine wonders on the dynamics here, with the SR feeling at once comfortable and connected to the road below.
It's by no means an out-and-out performance model - the incoming i30 N will handle those duties - but it feels perfectly fit for purpose, with plenty of pep in and around the city, and long enough legs to venture out onto the open road if need be.
The six-speed manual helps ring every bit of power of the turbocharged engine, and once you get used to the slightly awkward motion of the clutch pedal, it's a smooth and easy to use unit. I'm yet to drive an automatic version, but I can't imagine it feeling any better than this.
Put the sporty aspirations to the side, though, and you're left with an i30 that's comfortable, easy to drive, easy to see out of, quiet and smooth wherever you take it.
They've truly worked wonders on this car - it's light years ahead of the car it replaces, and leaves you salivating at the prospect of the i30 N, especially given this new, stiffer chassis feels capable of accommodating much more power.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
You do, however, get blind-spot monitoring, a reversing camera with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. That lot joins seven airbags, including a driver's knee bag, a lane change assist system (which scans the road behind you and warns you if it thinks a car is going to be arriving in the lane you're about to change into) and tyre-pressure monitoring.
The i30 SR is covered by Hyundai's five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and will demand a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms. Service costs are capped at $1651 for the first five years.
Great to look at, better to drive, and with more technology than JB HiFi, the i30 SR impresses in plenty of ways. A true performance version this ain't, but it does paint the rosiest of pictures for the incoming 130 N.
|ACTIVE||1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$16,500 – 18,980||2017 HYUNDAI i30 2017 ACTIVE Pricing and Specs|
|ACTIVE 1.6 CRDi||1.6L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$16,500 – 21,120||2017 HYUNDAI i30 2017 ACTIVE 1.6 CRDi Pricing and Specs|
|ACTIVE X||1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$18,490 – 20,990||2017 HYUNDAI i30 2017 ACTIVE X Pricing and Specs|
|ACTIVE X (SUNROOF)||1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$15,400 – 19,800||2017 HYUNDAI i30 2017 ACTIVE X (SUNROOF) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|