Hyundai‘s i30 has quickly become a staple on Australian roads, taking the fight up to Ford’s Focus, Kia’s Cerato and Toyota’s Corolla. It’s an award winning car and for good reason, with a high quality level of fit and finish plus Australian tuning for the ride. Hyundai’s bundled everything into one package for the manual i30 SR and it comes out the other side holding its head up high.What a buyer will find in the near 1300 kilo SR is Hyundai’s non turboed Nu 2.0L gasoline direct injection engine, with peak power and torque of 124 kW and 201 Nm. Naturally, both come in at high revs, with 4700 of them needed to see peak torque. The transmisson is a six speed manual and it’s here, in the car provided, that something didn’t feel right. The gate mechanism is loose, sloppy, undefined, and changing from second to third to fourth and back feels as if the selector is moving up and down, not left to right to left.The clutch itself seemed initally quite soft and lacking in any real spring pressure, with a seemingly indeterminate pickup point on the travel, with the subsequent revving of the engine past where a normal pickup would bring them down telling the story. When it all gels, however, it’s smooth and usable, it just lacks a real presence.In amongst all this is a frugal powerplant, with a combined total, from the 50 litre tank, of just 7.0L per 100 kilometres. If you’re in freeway mode, 5.5L/100 km is what Hyundai quotes and around town is where a lighter foot may be needed, at 9.5L/100 km.The test car was painted Brilliant Red, matched by the Start/Stop button’s surround. Otherwise, the interior is standard i30, save for red additions and stitching to the seats, and alloy pedals. There’s a seven inch full colour navitainment touchscreen, sans RDS, a peculiarly Korean thing. There’s an impressive list of tech: Apple CarPlay is on board, as is Bluetooth audio, auto head lights, rain sensing wipers, dual zone climate control air conditioning, and auto windscreen defogging. There’s a reverse camera, hidden under the boot mounted badge that folds out and in. It’s a tad noisy and momentarily distracting. Behind the tail gate is 378 litres of usable cargo space, expanding to just over 1300 when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded.Outside there’s LED DRLs in the front, an SR badge on the rear along with two on the front flanks, gorgeous gunmetal grey tuning fork style alloys at 17 inches in diameter, shod in 225/45 Nexen rubber. It’s Hyundai’s fluidic design in profile with the headlights flowing back into the guards, bracketing the newish corporate grille that is a one piece design. It’s cohesive, good looking and suits the colour the test car was covered in.It also cuts a fine figure on the road. Hyundai’s engineered a wonderful road holding chassis, with tenacious grip, a beautifully weighted steering feel using the Normal mode (it feels too artificially heavy in Sports, too light in Comfort), a ride quality that balances front and rear in the way the SR rebounds from bumps and undulating roads, thanks to revalved dampers and retuned springs. Even on unsettled and broken surfaces, it ducks and weaves through them with aplomb, exhibiting a high level of body control. And although it’s a normally aspirated engine, there’s enough pluck in the powerplant to provide enough performance without seeming underpowered. Rev through the numbers and there’s a steady pull through the range without running out of puff at the top end.
At The End Of The Drive.
The SR raises the i30 above the entry level and sits comfortably below the Premium, offers a well thought out feature list and priced from $25590 plus ORCs it’s a good value package. On the road it’s a solid handler, with a willing enough engine, with the weakspot being the lacklustre gear selector. Work around that and the i30 SR stands out as a suitable alternative to the Japanese big sellers. Go here:Hyundai i30 SR for more info.