2024 Hyundai i30 Sedan HEV Review

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Overview

 

HYUNDAI is going head to head with the Toyota Corolla hybrid with its new petrol-electric i30 Sedan HEV range, which deserves to do well in the Australian market based on our initial launch drive.

Whether these models will be a big success or not may depend on whether the new i30 Sedan is safety tested by ANCAP – it currently doesn’t have a crash test rating applicable to our market, and Hyundai Australia suggested at the launch that it has no plans to give ANCAP seven or eight cars to test.

 

That could rule it out for its most likely customer base – fleets – as many bulk-buy operations require a five-star rating in order for a model to be considered for consumption. No matter what, the i30 Sedan range (and hybrid offerings) all offer plenty of standard safety kit, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, car, junction and head-on detection, as well as lane keeping tech’ and a number of other items, including an infuriating speed-sign recognition system.

 

Otherwise, the entry-level version of the i30 Sedan Hybrid is rather well equipped for its $33,000 +ORCs list price (or $35,990 drive-away), with standard items like auto LED headlights and daytime running lights, auto wipers (which you don’t get on the base petrol), 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, cloth interior trim with manual seat adjustment, dual-zone climate control (not on base petrol), an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with wired/wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, a 4.2-inch driver info display between a digital tacho and speedo, USB-A and USB-C ports, and a wireless phone charger.

 

While not tested here, the i30 Sedan Elite adds Bluelink connected car services, an electro-chromatic interior mirror and an LED rear positioning light, as well as larger 17-inch wheels. The top-spec i30 Sedan Premium brings Parking Collision Warning, Bose sound system, a Blind-Spot View Monitor and surround-view camera, projector LED headlights, LED tail-lights and a heated steering wheel.

 

The i30 Sedan is a much larger car than the hatch, at 4710mm on a 2720mm wheelbase, and as a result it offers a significantly larger boot, with 474 litres of cargo capacity available, and a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor for all versions, including the hybrid. And that’s despite the fact the hybrid models get a more sophisticated independent rear suspension system, where petrol (non N Line/N) models have a torsion beam rear.

 

Front seat space is generous, with ample adjustment and plenty of storage for loose items in the cabin. The smaller screen in the base model looks a bit old hat, but if you’re keen for the larger, brighter twin 10.25-inch displays, they’ll be offered in the Elite and Premium models.

 

Rear seat comfort is good, with enough space for a six-foot adult to slot in behind a similarly sized driver, and the requisite bottle holders and storage options, too, as well as directional air-vents, those two new USB-C charge ports, and the expected ISOFIX points in the window seats, and three top-tether points.

 

The hybrid model’s powertrain positions its 1.32kWh lithium-ion battery pack below the rear seats, so there’s no impact on practicality. The battery teams to a 32kW/170Nm electric motor that is integrated into the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, meaning you can drive in EV mode and feel the car change gears. Also part of the package is a 1.6-litre petrol non-turbo engine, and all told, the combined outputs are 104kW and 265Nm – the latter being the same amount of torque as the sporty N Line models.

 

The official combined cycle fuel efficiency number is 3.8 litres per 100km (92g/km CO2), less than the Corolla hybrid sedan (3.9L/100km and 90g/km CO2).

 

As with other models in the standard i30 Sedan range, the hybrid requires maintenance every 12 months/15,000km, with a capped-price servicing plan over the first five years averaging out at roughly $307 per year, but keep in mind Hyundai has a lifetime capped-price service schedule, and if you maintain with the brand, you get lifetime roadside assistance included, too. There’s a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for the car, and an eight-year warranty on the battery pack.

 

Driving impressions

 

My drive of the i30 Hybrid base model sedan took me from Albury on the NSW/Victoria border, all the way to Adelaide. So it’s fair to say I got a really good feel for this car after almost 10 hours of driving.

Most notably, the powertrain is great for this kind of car. If you park any expectations of performance at the door, it’s an adequate runner, with a decent amount of urgency in stop-start situations, where the engine and EV motor combine for some punch.

 

At higher speeds – particularly on twisty roads with steep climbs – it can feel breathless, even underpowered, but that’s not what this car is about. Instead, on highway trips it will use either the petrol engine, or EV mode, depending on the situation, even at 100km/h. And it will eagerly step between those modes in urban driving, too.

The quirky six-speed dual-clutch auto does have some traits that take getting used to, such as a bit of lag from a standing start, and the fact this car can run in EV mode but still shift gears is peculiar. It’s unlike a Corolla in that way, and indeed, a Corolla hybrid feels more zesty in its responsiveness generally.

 

While I did see glimpses of fuel consumption below four litres per hundred in the initial urban run, the end result after nearly 900km was 4.5 litres per 100km – impressive considering highway and 100km/h driving is not where hybrids do their best work, due to a lack of regenerative braking to bump up the battery, and because EV driving is predominantly noticeable in urban start-stop situations.

 

The quality of the drive impressed in other ways, too, with a lovely steering responsiveness and accuracy at all speeds, making the i30 Sedan feel trusty and cruisy at the same time.

 

The suspension also ticked the box, with a slightly firm but reassuring ride comfort across a mix of different surfaces, including smoother concrete motorway, coarse-chip country roads, and even a few stretches of gravel.

Perhaps the weirdest thing about getting in and out of the car is that it doesn’t have a button on the exterior door handle for unlocking – that’s right, it’s a traditional twist key, but with a remote to unlock the car. And if you’re a travelling rep, you’ll have to get used to pressing the fob button to open the boot, too, as there’s no button on the boot itself in the base grade car.

 

I will say that while the speed-sign recognition system is painful if you know where you are and what the speed limits are, it can be helpful when driving in unfamiliar areas. Even if the chime is hatefully obnoxious. And if you want to disable it, in the base grade you do so via the steering wheel controls, rather than the touchscreen – and to me, that’s better than mucking around with the screen.

 

Annoyances aside, whether you’re a fleet buyer or private customer, there are a lot of positives with the i30 Hybrid Sedan.

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