Love in a Cold Climate? Testing Hyundai's New I30 in the Korean Winter Ahead of the Hatchback's Australian Arrival in April

Gympie Times, The Qld., February 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Love in a Cold Climate? Testing Hyundai's New I30 in the Korean Winter Ahead of the Hatchback's Australian Arrival in April


Byline: Paul Gover

GANGNAM style is not good enough for Hyundai in 2017.

These days, new-model development is all about the bright lights of Europe.

For the all-new i30 hatchback that means competing with the Volkswagen Golf. Hyundai has spent big and dug deep to pitch the latest i30, which goes on sale in Australia in the middle of April, as a genuine rival for the class-leading VW.

It's a big call but Hyundai has been getting better and better. We're already impressed with the latest Elantra which uses much of the i30 hardware, and the South Korean newcomer is going to have a big price advantage over the German benchmark car.

Hyundai Australia has also run through more than 50 local suspension packages to get the i30 tuned right for our roads and drivers, and will have a hotrod N version with a turbocharged engine and 205kW later in the year as showroom bait.

Cold test

A frosty two-day preview drive of the third-generation i30 in wintry Korea confirms the class of the car. It's a little bigger in the cabin, sharper in the styling, more refined in every way, and performs well with 1.6-litre petrol turbo and turbodiesel engines.

It's very tough to be sure without driving the 2.0-litre manual price leader, and driving on frozen mountain roads with Korean suspension, but all the signposts for the new i30 are pointing in the right direction.

It's the sort of car to recommend to friends, even with the imminent arrival of an updated Golf series 7.5, especially if Hyundai can hold the price line from $21,450.

No one from Hyundai Australia will talk pricing, or crucial details such as service costs or a safety score, until the car is here.

But with the runout model effectively selling from $20,990 on the road with an automatic transmission - an effective discount of nearly $7000 - there is no reason to expect the recommended retail price to move. And Hyundai has a long history with red pencils on showroom stickers.

"The price is not settled. We're not expecting it to be done until a few days before launch," says the boss of Hyundai Australia, Scott Grant.

"There are a few proposals around. We've been thinking about different specifications. There is a possibility of value packages." He's preparing shoppers for the worst, but obviously pushing hard for the best price. Grant says: "The car is a step change, even at entry level, and that has to be recovered at some level."

All-round improvements

There could be increases up the scale, as the i30 is available with everything from full LED headlamps, leather trim and auto safety braking to the perky turbo petrol engine, but it's still going to be a value leader.

The package took four years to develop, with an emphasis on export buyers outside Korea.

"It is European design and driving performance. We change everything," says Yu Chan Yang, group leader for the i30 at Hyundai's development base at Namyang. …

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