A while ago, I had the opportunity to take the new Hyundai Veloster 1.6 out for a spin, and boy must I say I was awed by that machine for that price you’re paying! Soon after, Komoco Motors extended me the invitation of trying out their new i30, which I must say, is a sleeker, much-more improvised version of its predecessor (which honestly, looked terrible in my opinion).
A quick look from the front of the i30 might leave you wondering whether you are looking at its bigger brother – the Elantra. It seems that Hyundai has became addicted with this particular curvature and adopted it in all its new models. But on closer examination, one would notice a more aggressive and thicker front grille on the i30, which I felt might be a tad too bold for a car this size.
Taking a 360 degree walk around the car, I was quite shocked to come into view with its rear design. “Hey, doesn’t that look like a Kia?” I suppose it’s personal preference but I certainly don’t like my rear lamps in this manner. If you’d notice closely too, Hyundai has also adapted its rear fog lamp covers (without any fog lamps inside) at the bottom corners of the rear, and yes, the bulkiness of that bumper does resemble the sportier Veloster.
One interesting feature, though, would be the inclusion of a panoramic sunroof in the i30, where passengers at the rear can also be treated to the view of the skies (if there’re any nice view at all). I’ve always loved sunroofs, though it’s pretty useless in urban Singapore. But till now, I still bite on the fact that my Elantra does not have a sunroof with it :P
If you’re expecting the amount of features to be on par with the Veloster, I’d say don’t get your hopes too high. However, some key features that you might wish to take note of does include the keyless entry – a touch of the button and you’ve unlocked the car, locked it, or opened the hatch boot. Another press of the button on the “Start/Stop” ignition will bring the 126 horses to life. Common, yet useful feature, I must say.
A quick glance over the drivers and front passengers seats will reflect Hyundai’s quirky bluish styling and design, though I did find the central console’s buttons a bit too bulky and not very cleverly styled. Unlike the Elantra or the Veloster, the i30’s central console is packed with buttons, both from its airconditioning system to the radio sound system, leaving a huge gap of emptiness below. And mind you, while you can dump your keys or wallets there while you’re on the go, there ain’t even any cover to cover up that mess that you might make, causing it to probably result in an unsightly mess. (Well, that might only be a problem to you if you’re as anal as me in keeping your car neat.)
But in a bid to adopt a more “continental” style, Hyundai has introduced the button-styled parking brakes system into the i30. A push at it will disengage the parking brake, while a pull will do the opposite. As cool as it might sound, it lacks the warning beep that some continentals have when the brake is disengaged, and might pose several safety hazards to some people (who unfortunately, might be a little more forgetful or non-observant than others).
While you might expect the boot space to be cramped given the fact that it’s a hatch, the i30 surprisingly gives you a rather roomy boot. No problems fitting in a golf set, but I’m not so sure about two. And if you’re concerned about passenger space in the rear of the car, I must say as a hatch, it probably will fit only two at the rear of the car for maximum comfort. Two’s just nice – three’s a squeeze – four’s going to leave you grumbling and cursing. But if you do have huge barang-barangs that you might need to ferry around, the i30 (similar to most other cars in its class), allows you to fold the rear seats down for extra space.
A feature that caught my attention was the inclusion of projector lamps in the i30. However, a start of the engine and the flick of the head lights disappoint me – it’s the same old problem with the Veloster where the projector bulb still remains yellow-tinted instead of a bi-xenon one. But come to think of it, hey, you’re not paying that much to qualify for a Xenon car, yah?
Honestly, this has got to be the most disappointing section of this review. At 126 horses, it is comparable to the Elantra (which ultimately is not a very good performing car albeit it being sleek). Pick ups on the i30 still proves to be a problem, and you will not get the full potential of the 1,591 cc engine until you reach at least 3500 rpm. That way, you get power, but you lose a lot of unnecessary fuel.
The i30 tends to roll, given its unstable weight distribution and the fact that it is ultimately a hatch. Don’t try cornering at more than 60 km/h with passengers at the rear, or I’d guarantee a rather rough and uncomfortable ride for them behind.
While it might not be as sluggish as the Elantra, the i30 still does not impress in terms of handling and gear change response. As I’ve always maintained, a 0.5 second lag in gear change might result in a life and death situation where you can either narrowly miss an accident, or become part of it. But understandably, I still must give credit for its slight improvement over its Elantra brother.
And while the stats of the i30 states a prediction of clocking 14.5 km per litre of fuel, my average of the day came back to only about 10?
If there’s one grumble that I say is misleading about this car, the i30 allows you to choose from three modes of steering – namely Comfort, Sports or Luxury. Now you might think “oh… comfort or luxury mode might save more fuel and sports will turn the engine a tad more aggressive.” Nah, you’re wrong. Comfort, Sports or Luxury, believe it or not, just reflects the firmness and change in grip of the steering wheel. The performance remains, unless you want to deliberately floor the pedal to convince (and lie to) yourself that it is indeed more powerful in Sports.
At close to S$140,000 (thanks to COE being at more than half of this price), I must say the i30 ain’t that good an investment if you’re looking more at looks and power. The looks of the i30 is subjective, and I’d say is a “like it or hate it” situation.
The list of features might be a tad impressive if you compare it to other makes and models available in the market, but do ask yourself how often do you use them, and whether you’d wish to pay more for the features, or rather for the ride, handling and performance.
Out of 5 stars for this review, perhaps the i30 (according to my own opinion) is only worthy of 2.5. If you’re the latter kind and are considering a Hyundai, perhaps the Elantra might be a better choice for you.
The Hyundai i30 is currently retailing at approximately S$131,999 (inclusive of COE). Please contact Komoco Motors at 6475 888 for more details or arrange for a test drive now. All information and prices in this review is correct at time of publication.
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