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Hyundai i30


Audi A3

Summary

Hyundai i30

Since 2007, the i30 has consistently been Hyundai’s best model.

A car so focused on being an amiable Volkswagen Golf alternative, it’s even been co-developed in Germany. As such, over three distinct generations, there’s never been a dud version.

This was hammered home by the sheer brilliance of 2017’s i30 N, which for many reasons remains a premier league hot-hatch experience to this day.

But does the i30 N-Line have the same impact in the non-full-fat, semi-skimmed warm-hatch category – you know, the sporty hatches that don’t cost the earth?

We drive the latest, 2021 i30 N-Line Premium to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi A3

If it was the original BMW 3-Series that invented the compact luxury car market segment all those years ago, then it’s probably fair to claim it was Audi’s A3 franchise that gave rise to the luxury small-hatch category.

On that basis, any new Audi A3 is news but, in the face of the SUV onslaught (including its own stablemate the Q3) the new small Audi has its work cut out for it.

With this update, there’s refreshed styling, a new interior layout and, for the launch of the new cars, two body styles, a conventionally styled sedan and what Audi calls the Sportback; fundamentally a five-door hatchback but with the German brand’s own flair plastered all over it.

As well as new connectivity and safety tech, the big news is the availability of a mild-hybrid driveline as well as a second powertrain option with more performance from a more conventional layout.

Interestingly, it’s that (mild) hybrid version of the A3 that represents the entry-level variant of the A3. A sign of the times? Perhaps.

As well as the two powertrains, there are two distinct chassis layouts, starting with a front-drive set-up and extending to the option of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Hyundai i308/10

Right now, the N-Line with the DCT is the fastest auto i30 you can buy, and that – plus all the luxuries and features that the Premium includes – makes it an attractive grand touring small car with sufficient speed and athleticism to entertain the keener driver.

But the manual i30 N at only around $5000 more significantly elevates the driving experience and thrills, while an auto is imminent. That’s what we’d save up for.

Still, as a fun and entertaining warm hatch, the i30 N-Line still offers enough consistency to warrant your attention. Easy to respect but hard to get really rapt over.


Audi A37/10

Producing a car that takes the end result beyond appliance status is no given in a world car-park dominated by SUVs. But Audi has, over the last few decades, shown it is very good at doing just that and the latest incarnation of its A3 stalwart backs that up.

While it might take a bit of mental gymnastics to understand why the base model gets the hybrid driveline, or why the more expensive variant costs more to option with adaptive cruise-control, the fact remains these are driver’s cars from a company that understands that concept.

Yes, the A3 is a relatively expensive way to arrive at a compact hatch or sedan, but if you value the journey as much as the destination, it will all make sense.

While the technical aspects of the 35 TFSI are interesting, the extra power and all-weather grip of the AWD 40 TFSI seem to be worth the additional dollars to us. The A3 has always been a sporty alternative, meaning the sportiest version is the one for us.

CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Design

Hyundai i30

For some people it’s what hasn’t changed that is the most interesting visual aspect about the 2021 i30 N-Line.

The “Sensuous Sportiness” nosecone found on all other i30s including the base grade does not apply here, for reasons which still aren’t clear, as most models bar the i30 N and Fastback are out of same South Korean factory. Yet even the latter (imported from the Czech Republic) are about to gain the fresh proboscis.

But is this a bad thing? Frankly, no, as the original front-end styling is arguably prettier than the fussy new visage.  

Another thing is how well this pleasing 2017 design is ageing, with sober, elegant proportions and confident stance that reflect Hyundai’s desire to be classed as a credible Golf alternative. Plus, the N-Line body kit makes a statement without it being in your face. Listening, Honda Civic?


Audi A36/10

It’s actually refreshing in 2022 to see a carmaker putting such an effort into something that isn’t an SUV.

That Audi has bothered with two distinct bodies and two equally distinct drivelines is also one for the books, really.

Technically, the mild-hybrid driveline as seen in larger Audis in recent years is probably the highlight of the new A3, and even though it doesn’t compare with a conventional petrol-electric hybrid, it demonstrates Audi’s attention to detail.

The same goes for the digital instruments which allows the driver to tailor the information displayed at any given time. Need a city map more than you need a tachometer at a particular point in you journey? That’s where this technology comes into its own.

Practicality

Hyundai i30

Given the basic ingredients are shared with the i30 Active, the N-Line’s interior presentation is an impressive step up.

Not immediately obvious are small changes for MY21, including the 2.25-inch larger central touchscreen with its modernised graphics and repositioned and simplified access button. From the handsome steering and matte grey leather/vinyl upholstery to the red piping and stitching as well as brushed metallic accents, the look and ambience agrees with the N-Line Premium’s price positioning.

The new digital instrumentation, with its BMW-style (or is that Honda-like) hexagonal tacho and central speedo, provides enough differentiation from bread-and-butter i30s for it to feel a bit more special.

As do the panoramic sunroof, thick-rimmed wheel, sports front seats, black trim, double stitching and red seat belts, while the MY21 multimedia update has fresh graphics that is easy and pleasurable to use.

But while there’s no missing the digital speedo, the instrumentation lacks the clarity and elegance of the previous, classically analogue iteration. And it cannot be configured like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Where’s the scope for personalisation? It feels like a wasted opportunity.

Otherwise it’s all normal-i30 inside, which means big doors for unimpeded entry/egress, sufficient space, loads of practicality, excellent ventilation and a first-class driving position, offering a welcoming, intuitive interface between car and driver. Vision out isn’t too bad, either, aided by that huge central touchscreen and big exterior mirrors.

The N-Line Premium’s heated and vented front seats are superb, with the driver’s offering a 10-way electrical adjustment including lumbar support. They ensconce their occupants in all the right areas, with bolsters that grip you in tight through tight turns, and immediately make you feel like you’re in a sporty hatch. Their accompanying red seatbelts look great too.

The rear seat area is a bit smaller than in many rival small cars nowadays, but it isn’t a disaster, as the back bench/backrest combo is firm yet supportive, promoting a comfy posture. Rear face-level air vents, a centre armrest, huge door pockets, overhead grab handles, coat hooks, individual reading lights and windows that drop almost all the way are further bonuses. But betraying the i30’s age is the lack of USB ports, with only a 12V outlet in the (huge) centre console between the front occupants.

Finally, the cargo area is big, deep and handy, with a huge space available and a low lip to negotiate heavier objects over. Under the floor is a space-saver spare. Capacity is rated at 395 litres, extending to 1301L with the rear backrests dropped.

Overall, then, with its racy yet classy trim, the i30’s cabin in N-Line Premium guise is as inviting as you’d wish for in a warm hatch.


Audi A36/10

Although it’s a compact car externally, clever packaging means there’s ample space inside. Even a tall-ish rear-seat passenger can sit behind a tall-ish driver, and the sculpted rear seat-backs help make that possible.

The only complaint would be that the dark headlining material makes the interior a bit of a cave at times.

Paying more for the 40 TFSI gets you extra cargo nets on the front seat backrests and luggage area, 12-volt sockets in the rear seat and boot. Both versions get floor mats and a centre arm-rest front and rear.

 

The rear seat in either is split 40/20/40 for a range of possibilities, with the Sportback offering 325 litres (VDA) for the Sportback quattro models, and 380L (VDA) for the 2WD models and its boot capacity is increased to 1145L (VDA) with the rear seat folded flat. The luggage space in the sedan is 390L (VDA) for the quattro AWD version, and a more capacious 425L (VDA) for the FWD model.

 

Price and features

Hyundai i30

In October, 2020, Hyundai facelifted the PD-series i30 hatch.

Known as the PD4, most of the range gains a wide toothy grille with chrome bars and a sleeker shape to the front bumper as well as fresh lighting elements – but not the N-Line. Why? More on that later. You’ll also find a revised rear bumper and diffuser. The inevitable price rises have also struck, to the tune between $2400 and $3100 depending on grade.

However, there are plenty of new features for all MY21 i30s, including auto-folding side mirrors with heating, a 7.0-inch multifunction display and a restyled steering wheel and gear selector, while on the safety front all models include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep and steering assist, lane following assist, adaptive cruise control with full stop/go functionality, driver attention warning and auto high beams.

Priced from $36,220, the N-Line Premium as tested here is on the expensive side, but it does usher in two significant changes over the regular i30 – a turbo-engine and dual-clutch transmission powertrain and an upgrade from a torsion beam to a multi-link rear suspension system. Both are transformative additions.

Additionally, you’ll find keyless entry/start, dual zone climate control with rear-seat air vents, heated and vented front seats, a powered driver’s seat, solar control glass, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing LED headlights, front as well as rear parking sensors, sunroof, sunvisor extenders, digitised instrumentation display and wireless smartphone charger.

Meanwhile, a somewhat larger (to 10.25-inch) central touchscreen houses the wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto display, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, a premium audio system upgrade, digital radio, satellite navigation and rear-view monitor, while a body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot 4 performance tyres and a temporary spare round out things nicely. This i30 is heaving with gear.

Should buyers of the $29,490 Ford Focus ST-Line, $35,790 Honda Civic RS, $33,690 Kia Cerato GT Turbo and $35,290 Mazda3 G25 Astina be turning Hyundai’s way? Maybe, as the South Korean-built five-door hatch matches or exceeds most for kit – with the curious exception of blind-spot monitoring and front and/or rear cross-traffic alert (the Mazda’s got both) as well as the Civic’s excellent side lane-watch camera – while offering substantially more power and torque to boot than the lot (related Kia excepted).

One of the few options is metallic paint for $495.


Audi A37/10

These are not bargain basement cars, and with a kick-off price of $46,900 for the A3 35 TFSI Sportback (the hatch version) and $49,400 for the sedan in the same specification, that much is obvious.

The fact is, both the new A3 variants represent a fair mark-up on the previous model. But if you look at the post-Covid car market in a macro sense, you can see the same trend across a lot of brands and a lot of previously entry-level models.

Ante up to the 40 TFSI, and the news is no different with an asking price of $53,500 (Sportback) and $56,000 (sedan).

If the price sounds steep on a per-kilo basis, you need to remember this is an Audi we’re talking about and that price premium is part and parcel of a prestige badge. Don’t like it? Go and buy a VW Golf. That’d be Audi’s advice, anyway.

To justify that viewpoint, the A3 is loaded with some impressive standard kit. The 35 TFSI starts things off with Audi’s vaunted 'Virtual Cockpit', wireless phone charging, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote central locking, paddle shifters, park-assist, sat-nav, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, a multi-function steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, digital radio, cruise-control and dual-zone climate control.

The 40 TFSI adds a range of aluminium trim pieces and garnishes, Audi’s 'Drive Select' system which allows the driver to choose the characteristic of the dampers, steering response, exhaust sound, throttle response and transmission shift points.

The 40 TFSI also adds sportier front seats, a rear spoiler, body kit, extra courtesy lights around the car and details such as a 12-volt socket in the luggage area.

Options on the base model include a 'Comfort Pack' consisting of adaptive cruise-control, electric front seats, heated front seats, auto dimming headlights, heated and folding mirrors, four-way electric lumbar control and 'Adaptive Drive Assist', including 'Emergency Assist.'

That will set you back $2600, while the 40 TFSI can be enhanced with Audi’s 'Premium Package' which adds those same items as well as aluminium-look trim pieces, a better sound system, head-up instrument display and a memory function for the driver’s seat. That adds $4500 to either the 40 TFSI Sportback or sedan.

Engine & trans

Hyundai i30

While most i30s are stuck with a dull 120kW/203Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated unit, the N-Line steps up to Hyundai’s 1591cc 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-pot turbo from the Gamma GDI gasoline direct injection family of engines, delivering a healthy 150kW of power at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from a low 1500rpm to 4500rpm. 

Tipping the scales at 1436kg, it results in a lively 104.5kW/tonne power-to-weight ratio.

It drives the front wheels only via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), with a trio of drive modes – eco, normal and sport with corresponding green, blue and red instrumentation illumination – as well as a manual tip-shift (with forward/up and backward down) and a big pair of paddle shifters behind the wheel.


Audi A37/10

While both versions of the A3 use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (no manual gearbox will be offered) there’s not a lot of commonality beyond that.

So let’s start with the 35 TFSI’s mild-hybrid running gear. To begin with, mild-hybrid in this sense refers to a starter motor/alternator unit that is linked to a 48-volt battery (the car also has a conventional 12-volt electrical system).

When coasting, the engine can shut off and the starter switches to alternator mode and harvests the otherwise lost energy to charge the 48-volt battery. This 48-volt system also powers the car’s functions when the engine is switched off.

When the car needs to restart (when the traffic-light goes green) the starter kicks in, using that harvested voltage. There’s also a regenerative braking function, saving the car’s actual brakes for more severe stops.

Unlike a 'normal' hybrid system, there’s no electric motor to help drive the car, but Audi claims a potential fuel saving of 0.4 litres per 100km from the set-up. Any benefit will be most noticeable in urban running where the car is speeding up and slowing down regularly.

The rest of the 35 TFSI is technically interesting, too, with the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine featuring cylinder-on-demand where it can shut down individual cylinders during cruise conditions to save fuel.

When firing on all four, however, the engine is good for 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque, figures which have become almost an industry standard in this sized vehicle.

The 40 TFSI, meanwhile, ditches the hybrid gear for a conventional 2.0-litre powerplant with a turbocharger and 140kW of power. Torque is a handy 320Nm and is developed over a wide range of engine speeds (anywhere from 1500 to 4100rpm).

The other big difference is in the driveline. The 35 TFSI is a front-wheel drive platform while the 40 TFSI uses Audi’s Quattro AWD as it applies to Audis with an east-west engine layout.

That means the car behaves as a front-drive vehicle until the electronics decides more power should be sent to the rear wheels. At that point, anything up to 99 per cent of the available torque can be transferred rearwards via an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch housed at the rear of the car, just in front of the rear axle.

Fuel consumption

Hyundai i30

Hyundai says the i30 N-Line Premium’s 1.6 T-GDi engine should average a combined 7.1 litres per 100km – 9.4L/100km around town and 5.9L/100km on the open road – but we managed a still-acceptable 9.2L/100km at the pump. That’s a fine effort considering how hard and fast we extended that four-pot turbo.

For the record, the Euro-5 emissions rated engine officially averages 167 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions.

Fitted with a 50L tank, some 700km between refills is possible. Standard 91 RON unleaded is recommended or 94 RON E10 mix is tolerable.


Audi A37/10

With all its cylinder shut-off, hybrid tricks and small capacity, the 1.5-litre engine boasts a 5.0 litres per 100km combined cycle fuel economy figure.

Combined with its 50-litre tank, that’s a potential for 1000km between service-station visits. It’s also commendably close to the numbers you’d expect from a similarly sized vehicle with a turbo-diesel engine.

The more conventional 2.0-litre A3 variant, meanwhile, boasts a still-credible 6.7 litres per 100km for the same test. To counter its greater thirst, Audi has fitted a slightly bigger, 55-litre fuel tank.

The headline act, of course, is the base-model’s highway figure which, thanks to the small capacity engine and its reduced pumping losses at small throttle-openings, can get right down into the low-fives (5.0 litres per 100km) in the real world at real highway speeds.

With a tail-wind, you might even see a number starting with four. This is why you don’t need a diesel engine any longer.

Expect the 40 TFSI to use roughly a litre more across every 100km travelled. And in either case, you are stuck with paying for 95-RON premium unleaded.

Driving

Hyundai i30

It should come as no surprise to learn that this i30 is very much a warm – rather than sizzling hot – hatch.

Strong performance, eager steering, a taut chassis, a supple ride and strong brakes makes the N-Line walk the fine line between rorty girl/boy-racer runabout and comfy, refined grand tourer.

Around town, this means smooth and progressive acceleration – rather than all-or-nothing lunges forward – accompanied by light steering for easy manoeuvrability. Aided by a large camera and fairly good vision out, parking in tight spaces isn’t a chore.

Unlike most DCTs, Hyundai’s is tuned for eager off-the-line response and a minimum of hesitation, lacking the lag and jerkiness of most similar systems. What you’re left with is a smooth, speedy and slick shifter that is in keeping with the N-Line’s sporty aspirations.

In Sport mode, the turbo engine holds on to each ratio a little longer, for sustained thrust right up to the 6500rpm red line. A keen driver can have fun exploring the Hyundai’s outer limits safely, without spills… or thrills, for that matter.

That’s because the N-Line falls somewhat short of an i30 N as far as dynamics are concerned… shorter, in fact, that the price gap would have you expect.

While the handling and cornering characteristics are defined by accurateness and agility, with expected high levels of road-holding, mid-turn bumps do transmit through to the steering rack, making it rattle and shake; the front end can lose traction quite easily in damp conditions, and grip carving up through bends isn’t quite as tenacious as the best hot-hatches. What this car cries out for is a limited slip differential.

The ride quality – though a tad firm around town – isn’t uncomfortable by any stretch, with sufficient wheel travel for the Hyundai to be a happy urban commuter. Yet there isn’t quite the controlled and planted grip on offer to make this a satisfying driving machine.

That all said, this isn’t trying to be a Ford Focus ST or Golf GTI rival. To anticipate it as such would be naïve. That’s what the N’s for.

Probably the most glaring issue is noise intrusion, as there’s far too much tyre roar intruding into the cabin. Like most Hyundais, the i30 benefits from an Australian-specific chassis tune.


Audi A38/10

Let’s start with the less powerful 35 TFSI, if only because - even though we know better in 2022 - there’s a temptation to think a 1.5-litre engine will be underdone. The reality, however, is that you’re not going to drive this car and judge it as anything other than very resolved.

While it’s true the peak power of 110kW isn’t startling, it’s the way it’s delivered (along with the 250Nm of torque) that sets the mood here.

Like many late-model Audis, this one has an engine with a fizzy, zingy feel that makes you want to rev it just to hear and feel it. And when you do, it pays off with plenty of flexibility and a sophisticated, refined feel.

Whether the mild hybrid driveline is adding anything to the formula is debatable, because the technology is so seamless you won’t pick what it’s doing other than the engine stop-start function, which is one of the better ones we’ve sampled.

Move from the 35 into the 40 TFSI and you immediately notice the extra power and torque on tap. And although it’s still not a hot-hatch by modern standards, there’s always enough urge to make the 40 TFSI a convincing driver’s car.

Again, the power delivery is the key to it all, making more of what the engine has to offer by actively encouraging you to use it. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is your friend here.

The extra driveline functionality of the 40 (namely the AWD system) actually means less than you might imagine in day-to-day life. We didn’t get to drive the car in the wet, but it’s fair to say that those conditions (or a loose, gravel road) are really the only ones likely to make a difference to the way the basic platform feels.

That’s for two reasons; the first being the all-wheel-drive is fundamentally on demand anyway and, secondly, the basic platform is so composed and balanced in the first place, that the Quattro system will spend a lot of its time hiding in the background.

The 40 TFSI also get the selectable drive modes which break with tradition by actually making a difference to the way the car feels.

But the reality is that if you took the best bits of every other setting (Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency) and loaded them into the Individual button, you’d probably wind up with something very close to what the non-adjustable 35 TFSI offers in the first place.

You have to admire the way Audi has made a front-drive car in the A3 steer, handle and talk to the driver in such a clear, precise way.

Yes, the 40’s selectable modes add another layer to that, but only if you can be bothered. Even more than that, the A3 in either form feels like its ultra-stable and safe, while the levels of feel and feedback give the impression they were decided upon by people who enjoy driving.

Safety

Hyundai i30

Tested in 2017, the i30 scored a five-star rating in the ANCAP crash-test results.

Each model includes seven airbags, AEB as part of Hyundai’s Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist driver-assist suite of features that includes pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep and steering assist, lane following assist, adaptive cruise control with full stop/go functionality, driver attention warning and auto high beams.

Additionally, vehicle stability management (stability control and traction control), anti-lock brakes with Emergency Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, hill-start assist, lane-keep assist, driver-attention warning, auto on/off headlights and tyre pressure monitors.

There are also two rear-seat ISOFIX points as well as three top tethers for straps.

Meanwhile, the AEB system operates between 10km/h and 180km/h (other vehicles), with a complete stop possible at speeds of up to 55km/h (stopped vehicle), 80km/h (moving vehicles) and 65km/h (pedestrians and cyclists).

Oddly, only the i30 Elite features Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind-Spot Collision warning and Safe Exit Warning (great for not dooring cyclists).


Audi A38/10

Possibly the headline (no pun intended) act here is the inclusion of a centre-front airbag. This is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future, particularly in compact cars, where the proximity of the front-seat passengers can lead to head clashes in a side-impact crash.

Beyond that, the Audi has six airbags including side-curtain airbags.

In terms of driver aids, the A3 sets a high bar for its competitors, and with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist recognition, rear-cross-traffic alert, lane-departure assist and a rear-view camera, most bases are covered.

The major omissions are adaptive cruise-control, but that’s available in the 35 TFSI as part of the $2600 Comfort Package, and in the 40 TFSI as part of the $4500 Premium Package.

Yes, the Premium Package also includes heated, memory front seats, a head-up display, improved stereo and the multi-coloured ambient interior lighting (and more) but it does seem strange that it costs more to option up to adaptive cruise in the 40 TFSI than in the base-model.

The A3 scored the full five stars in ANCAP crash testing in 2020.

Ownership

Hyundai i30

Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty as well as 12 months of roadside assistance, with scheduled servicing at every 12-month or 15,000km intervals.

Published online, the prices for the N-Line service is $299 for each of the first five annual services, then rises to $495 (year six), $585 (year seven), $370 (year eight), $310 (years nine to 11), $555 (year 12), $310 (year 13) and $585 (year 14) – and then onwards with similar varying numbers on Hyundai’s website right up to 51 years/510,000km service ($275 in 2021 dollars). Seriously!


Audi A37/10

Audi recently improved its factory warranty from three years to five years and unlimited kilometres. Any new Audi (including this one) sold after January 1 this year is the beneficiary of that change.

Audi specifies service intervals of 15,000km or 13 months.

There’s also the option of a fixed-price servicing program for the first five years of A3 ownership, and that will cost you $2250, for an annual average of $450.