Hyundai has expanded its i30 range with the introduction of an 'SR' version. Little changed from the concept car that gained positive feedback when displayed at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney late last year, the SR has a shadow style body kit, a warmed over engine, sports suspension and a revised interior with leather trim, sporting alloy-faced pedals and a self dipping interior mirror.
So important is the Australian market to Hyundai these days that we were chosen as the first in the world to receive this new SR model. One reason is the considerable amount of work put into the local suspension tune by engineers from Australia, the UK and South Korea.
The Hyundai i30 SR is best regarded as a warm-hatch rather than a hot hatch. But it provides decent performance at a pretty modest price: $27,990 for the manual, $30,190 for the auto. A panoramic sunroof adds $2000.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
The engine is a 2.0-litre direct-injection unit producing 129 kW of power and an impressive 209 Nm of torque. That’s over 100 Nm per litre, an output only achieved from a few expensive European engines. The torque is there from lower revs than you would expect from a non-turbo engine and continues in a delightfully linear fashion well into the rev range. However, the engine isn’t all that happy as it gets near the redline, becoming a bit noisy.
Sitting alongside the high(-ish) performance Hyundai engine is the choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with manual overrides.
Hyundai is one of the leaders in crash avoidance and survival through a collision. The i30 meets five-star crash safety requirements, thanks in part to seven airbags; ABS brakes with EBD and BAS; Vehicle Stability Management with ESC and TCS; rear view camera; and rear park assist.
During our road testing at the global launch of the Hyundai i30 SR in northern NSW we found the car on its 17-inch alloy wheels with 45 Series tyres to be firm in its ride, but not unacceptably so.
Changes on the manual are about average in quality for a front-drive car, but we had hoped for better in a sporty model. The auto is willing to change down to grab extra revs, but we really feel a car like this should have paddle shifters, not just a floor selector.
Steering is beautifully direct in the central position; where many cars have a dead spot just either side of straight ahead, the SR has instant reaction and excellent feedback to the driver’s hands.
Handling is safe and sure with the sporty Hyundai remaining neutral and safe well beyond speeds likely to be attempted by almost all drivers. Near its limit the i30 SR shows some understeer but it’s easy to dial out - with the security of sophisticated traction control as a backup should you still get it wrong.
Moving slowly seems like an odd way of getting into fast cars, but Hyundai is playing the cautious game with the introduction of the SR range. Rather than being seen as frustrating, this should be regarded as a sign of maturity in a company that’s becoming increasingly well regarded as one of the major mainstream global players.
It seems certain we will one day see full-blown hot hatches, perhaps taking the full 4WD big-turbo route that will provide serious competition for the established Japanese and European players. Competition that may well shock the others in its affordability.
Time will tell, but we can’t wait for the introduction of a 180kW all-wheel-drive street and track stormer from Hyundai.
It’s not a true hot hatch, but Australian performance car enthusiasts can still take pride in the fact the Hyundai i30 SR made its global debut in this country, and that it has significant Aussie input in the suspension dynamics field.
Hyundai i30 SR
Price: $27,990 (auto $2200)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 129kW and 209 Nm
Thirst: 6.5-7.2 litres/100km
Transmission: six-speed manual and auto, front-wheel drive