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Hyundai i30cw 2009 review


The Hyundai i30 has been a Carsguide favourite since the day it was born. The Korean baby was the first serious sign that Hyundai was looking outside Korea for its future, not just in the way it looked - does anyone else see a hint of BMW's 1 Series? — but in its quality and comfort.

There are still Korean-centric cars in the Hyundai range, but the influence of the i30 is spreading fast and cars such as the Elantra now drive better than before and the upcoming Sonata replacement looks better than it has in the past. The Euro-focussed thinking, which has also taken root at Hyundai's partner Kia in cars like the Soul, is spreading fast and giving people reasons to buy the brand that go beyond the bottom line.

The i30 was welcomed to Australia with a Carsguide Car of the Year trophy and we've been saying good things about the car, and particuarly the long-range diesel, ever since.

Now we have tried the i30cw and have another Korean friend. The cw tag stands for 'crossover wagon' and the stretched hatch is one of the growing group of compact station wagons in local showrooms. This sort of car was in retreat for a long time as baby SUVs, particularly the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, gobbled up the sales and converted people to high-riding cabins.

But there is a lot of good stuff in a well-designed small-car wagon, as Hyundai proves with the i30. The stretch for the wagon provides the expected tail-end space and flexibility, but there is also more leg and headroom in the back seat thanks to a slightly-stretched wheelbase and a higher roof.

It's enough to make a significant impact against rivals from the outgoing Holden Astra to the odd-looking Skoda Roomster and even the Nissan Dualis, which has just been given a major tickle with a front- wheel drive model priced from $24,990.

Drivetrains and equipment

The i30cw comes with the familiar 2-litre petrol and 1.6-litre turbodiesel engines, front-wheel drive, a classy looking cabin and standard equipment including ESP stability control, front airbags, anti-skid brakes, CD sound sound and aircon. Even the glovebox has airconditioning.

But Hyundai has skimped a bit on airbags and, as it does for most of its cheapie cars, upgrading to six airbags and five-star safety means spending on the Protectz package. The whole deal comes in the flagship Sportswagon, which also picks up everything from leather seat trim to alloy wheels.

But it's the basics that do the job land Hyundai says it is getting a lot of interest in the cw. And it helps that the cw is priced from $20,890, a benchmark for small wagons, with the top-line diesel and petrol Sportswagon still coming in below $30,000 before on-road costs.


The cw is small but ideally formed. It's more like a large hatch than a traditional station wagon, something it has in common with the Dualis. Nissan prefers to call it a hatch, but it also has a baby wagon in the family. The latest i30 arrived fully loaded with the Sportswagon package and that means good looking alloys and leather in the cabin, a wipe-down bonus for families with bubs.

But it's the back end that does the deal, with a wagon tail that is easy to use, well shaped or loads, and reasonably roomy once you fold the back seats. It's best for family work if you need more than two seats, but becomes a very useful and usable weekend escape machine for two people with bikes or camping gear in the tail.

The cw drives much as I remember from the i30 hatch, with a good ride, good cornering grip and reasonable performance. The four-speed auto knocks the edge off the two-litre petrol motor but the car is not disgraced.

I still like the styling, which is very un-Korean, and the cabin quality also sets the standard for Hyundai. It's not up to the level of the very latest Korean cars, including the classy Holden Cruze, but it is excellent for a vehicle that is priced from $20,000.

So, what's not to like? Well, the front seats are not very well shaped and the electric power steering can give a wonky feeling in corners. Why wonky? Because the electric assist sometimes struggles to hold pressure and I felt as if the car was moving around - but it wasn't.

But that's about it. The cw also comes with nice stuff including side repeaters in the mirrors, aircon that really does the job and even a trip computer to keep track of you range and fuel economy. It all wraps up into a tidy, affordable, usable package which is one of my surprising favourites of 2009. A smart choice with good looks and plenty of practicality.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

SLX 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $6,990 – 12,740 2009 Hyundai I30 2009 SLX Pricing and Specs
SLX 1.6 CRDi 1.6L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $5,122 – 8,990 2009 Hyundai I30 2009 SLX 1.6 CRDi Pricing and Specs
SR 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,990 – 6,999 2009 Hyundai I30 2009 SR Pricing and Specs
SX 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,800 – 11,995 2009 Hyundai I30 2009 SX Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 36 car listings in the last 6 months

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