Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Hyundai i30 CRDi 1.6 MT The Sensible Choice - By. Niky Tamayo

 Review: Hyundai i30 CRDi 1.6 MT
The Sensible Choice

Words: Niky Tamayo
Pictures: Niky Tamayo 
Over the past decade, Hyundai has made a name for itself in the Philippines as a leader in diesel technology. Isuzu may have been first to the market with the 4JX1 Trooper, but the Starex was the poster boy of the common-rail revolution. With the Getz, Matrix and Accent, Hyundai made a good stab at bringing the revolution downmarket. Yet while the Accent gained a small but significant foothold in the rental/taxi market, the Matrix died off due to concerns over CBU costs (when the factory moved to Europe) and the Getz diesel never really panned out, and was cancelled.

Still, with the Accent on one end and the Tucson, Santa Fe and Starex on the other, Hyundai has most of the diesel market covered. Except for one vital segment: The compact class.

Now, before the Focus TDCi came out, our last taste of diesel in a mainstream compact was with the Isuzu Gemini. Way back in the seventies. You’d think that there’d be pent-up demand for a vehicle with compact-car convenience and diesel economy, but when Hyundai pitched the Elantra diesel, they didn’t find enough interest to convince them to sell it. Ford found buyers for the diesel Focus, but only in the rarefied 2 liter market segment, and even then, it sold slowly till they released the Powershift variant. Somehow, most people don’t get the connection between manual transmissions and fuel economy... shame on them. And yet, the TDCi is still too much car for the common buyer.

Will the i30 be the car that bridges the gap between the Focus and the Accent?

It’s certainly a good looking car. There are shades of BMW and Ford Kinetic design in the rear, and the front is suitably handsome. Both gasoline and diesel variants come with rather modest shoes, with the diesel having the more modest of the pair. To keep pricing reasonable, there are a few things on the gasoline i30 that the diesel lacks. The 17” mags are the most obvious. The automatic transmission is the most telling.

Beautiful character line you have back there... no, I wasn't staring at your derriere, miss...

Not that that’s such a bad thing. With a manual transmission, the 1.6 CRDi is just about adequate. It gets to 100 km/h from a standstill in 10.6 seconds... 11.1 if you’re gentle with the clutch (and the excessive wheel hop on launch is a convincing argument for restraint). It takes just 6 seconds to go from 60 km/h to 100 km/h. Quicker than most 1.6 liter cars, but not quite as quick as some of the better 1.8 to 2 liter gasoline competition. The engine doesn’t really feel like it’s trying until you hit 3000 rpm, and power falls off well before it hits its 5000 rpm rev limiter.

With the gasoline 1.6 AT? Don’t even ask. Just be assured that it goes when you push on the right pedal, and stops when you push on the left one.

But then, speed isn’t the i30’s selling point. Economy is. With a mere 1.6 liters and a manual transmission, the CRDi i30 promises to be more economical than the Focus TDCi. And in this, it doesn’t disappoint.

That 10.4 is "around-the-block-fuel-economy"... which translates to: Niky's too lazy to walk two blocks from his house to the photoshoot... what? Did you want me to push?

Maintain a constant 80 km/h, and you can exceed the Focus TDCi’s 20+ km/l, with the i30 hitting up to 23 km/l. Too bad we didn’t have the time or budget to do an all-out eco-run. We dearly wanted to see if we could hit 30 km/l. Foreign publications have reported numbers in that region on long runs... but we never had a chance to run unhindered by traffic.

In traffic, we got around 11-12 km/l, and in normal highway use, we got between 13-14 km/l. Not much different than the Focus. The leaner torque curve of the i30 meant we had to use more revs to keep the pace up. With the Focus, you can just surf that giddy wave of torque from just off-idle and up to traffic speeds.

Instruments and stack neat and functional...

Note the individual seatbelt warnings. Child-friendly.

Despite the traffic, the i30 is a relaxing cruiser, quiet and refined. It has good highway legs and predictable brakes and munches up the miles easily. The seats are supportive without being stiff, and the tilt-and-telescoping wheel allows you to find a good driving position. While the steering is too light and overboosted at low speeds, the speed sensitive power-assist comes into its own at highway speeds, making the i30 hands-off-the-wheel-stable on the highway. The variable assist rack is a fair bit more linear and natural than the one in the Kia Soul, which feels like it’s either on full assist or completely off.

Kids, don't try this at home...

The other controls aren’t so great. The clutch is annoyingly light and the gear-shift is way too rubbery. Such issues are minor complaints on the similar i10, but as the i30 costs nearly twice as much, you’d think the control quality would be kicked up a notch in this department. At least the door controls avoid Hyundai parts binning. In fact, they’re quite nice.

Better than the Tucson's switches, actually...

Unlike the i10, the i30 isn’t tuned for outright handling. In fact, it feels almost like... gasp... a Corolla. The suspension is soft and buttery, and there’s a lot of initial body roll in hard cornering. Despite this, the shock absorbers are well-controlled and don’t bounce helplessly over bumps. The handling itself is neutral, with very little understeer and a stable rear end, despite the modest grip levels of the 195-65-15 Kumho Optimo tires.

This is the diesel, mind you. The gasser has bigger and better wheels, and steers sharper as a result. Unfortunately, the gasoline variant is saddled with a four-speed automatic that also feels eerily Corolla-like in its smoothness and unwillingness to perform. I guess it’s obvious what car Hyundai benchmarked the i30 on.

Not just child-friendly, child-seat friendly, too.

The i30 is a bit more spacious than other hatchbacks in the class. It’s got better rear headroom than the Ford Focus hatchback and the trunk is usefully large. The rear bench folds flat to give you a huge cargo bay, but you have to flip up the rear bench to get them to lay completely flat. It’s a fiddly operation, at best, and it’s not the neatest looking solution, but it works.

Too bad we didn't have a refrigerator to deliver that week...

Despite the lack of such niceties as leather, big wheels and body-kit that you can get on other top-of-the-line compacts, the i30 is pretty well-equipped. It comes with front airbags and a full compliment of side curtain airbags, automatic climate control, MP3-player compatibility and steering wheel audio controls, ISOFIX child seat mounts, a manual headlight-levelling system, light dimmer, heated mirrors, a weight-sensitive passenger airbag (good if you have kids) and individual seatbelt warnings for each passenger. Oh, and brakes equipped with both ABS and EBD.

Did I mention the vanity lights?

They're everywhere!

Lotsa airbags, too.

While it’s not the perfect compact car, the i30 is a cerebral choice. The gasoline variant is relatively pricey but incredibly well equipped. The diesel variant gives you all of this plus incredible fuel economy. Unfortunately, buyers at the high end of the compact market expect a little sportiness to go with the convenience, and the marketing value of the sporty “2.0” badge should not be underestimated. Still, if you’re more concerned with saving fuel (and the planet) than setting speed records, the i30 deserves a spot on your test-drive list.

The Good

Great economy (with the CRDi)
Fully loaded
Comfortable ride and interior
Solid feel, nice plastics

The Bad

Lacking in performance
A little pricey
Rubbery controls
Not much more economical than the more powerful Focus TDCi

The Verdict

Not quite the homerun the i10 is, the i30 is nonetheless a solid car. CRDi variant as green as motoring gets.

Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2010 9:35:41 PM

Rank: Formula 3 racer

Joined: 11/10/2006
Posts: 5,210
Location: Manila, Philippines
Counterpoint: Hyundai i30 CVVT 1.6 A/T

Words & Pictures: Carlo Sapera

Even though the Philippines has always been sedan country, a lot of car makers are now offering lift-back booties in their line-up. Hyundai has three, the i10, the Getz, and now, the i30. Targeted at the Ford Focus, the i30 really stands out in a crowd.

The exterior styling is a big leap from Hyundai’s previous boring and bland designs. The i30’s styling has now levelled-up, and it wouldn’t look out of place amongst European hatchbacks.

Interior quality has also taken a big leap from the old days. I love the feel of the door inserts and sidings, and the dash lay-out is very European. Everything is easy to reach; from the power window switches to the audio controls. The blue-colored display is nice at night but quite difficult to read in day light.

The seats are supportive and the lumbar support is fine. Both front and rear passengers will enjoy the leg and foot room. The i30 is a real luggage eater, too. An average sized person can fit in the boot comfortably. (Karl? Average? - Niky)

On the road, the 120 bhp 1.6 liter powerplant needs more punch. It actually feels as slow as the 1.6 Mazda3. The transmission is also quite lazy. You have to manually shift it into third gear in order to overtake buses on the highway. The steering is smooth and sharp, better than the CRDi version, thanks to the low profile tires.

For music lovers, the i30 has both aux-in and USB slots for I-Pod/MP3 users, plus audio controls on the steering wheel. Speaker and sound quality are at par with the Corolla Altis.

The Hyundai i30 gasoline version is priced at 995,000 pesos; quite high for a 1.6 liter compact. Blame it on CBU taxes slapped on Korean cars. If not for this, the i30 would be perfectly placed to compete with its Japanese counterparts.

Posted: Monday, June 28, 2010 12:59:04 PM

Rank: NASCAR racer

Joined: 11/22/2006
Posts: 2,303
Location: Japan
will still go for the CRDi hahaha!!

dont judge a car unless you have driven it! NEW HOME OF THE MAKATI MENYEKS!!

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2010 8:27:20 AM

Rank: NASCAR racer

Joined: 11/20/2006
Posts: 2,940
Location: Bulacan
Finally unearthed the pictures of the i30 1.6L... sorry for the late post!

How a well-stitched quality leather seats can vastly improve a car's interior.

Not to mention the stainless steel finish of the automatic transmission stick.

The smart-looking integrated sound system and automatic climate control unit.

ESP... not sure if you'll be needing this for the 1.6L CVVT unit, but it's good to know that you have one.

Rear legroom is quite good actually... can even fit in 4 adults if needed.

The full size spare tire with all the necessary emergency tools neatly held in place.

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