Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Hyundai i30 Tourer is smarter, more stylish and finer-driving than every sub-compact SUV currently available.
This small wagon also builds on the above-average basics of the Hyundai i30 hatchback, adding an obvious extra layer of practicality and an extra ply of finesse to become the most convincing Hyundaisold in this country.
It is also the first to come to Australia from Europe, the Hyundai i30 Tourer emerging from the Czech Republic, not Korea like the i30 hatchback and all other Hyundai models except the Indian-built i20 and also-Czech-made ix35 SE.
Beyond the extra space behind the rear seats – there’s 528 litres when they’re up, 1642L when folded – the Hyundai i30 Tourer adopts a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension set-up compared with its hatchback sibling, which gets a simpler rear torsion bar arrangement.
Put simply, in the i30 hatch the two rear wheels are joined together by a single bar – if one wheel hits a pot hole, or different surface to the other, both wheels are affected, creating a ‘shimmy’ sensation from the rear end.
The i30 Tourer has various ‘tentacles’ that mean each wheel works independently of each other; they’re not joined at the hip as in the hatchback.
There are other details which distinguish the Hyundai i30 Tourer from its hatchback siblings – LED daytime lights are standard, as are electric folding door mirrors, and the front seats recline via a rotary dial not a lever.
On the downside the standard engine in the i30 Tourer is a 1.6-litre direct-injected petrol four-cylinder which produces 99kW of power at 6300rpm and 163Nm of torque at 4850rpm.
Not only is the wagon version down 11kW and 15Nm compared with its hatch sibling, which scores a larger 1.8-litre engine, but the i30 Tourer’s smaller engine doesn’t offset the weight of the bigger boot and more sophisticated rear suspension; the i30 Tourer petrol weighs between 1223-1394kg, identical in Active specification but up to 50kg more in Elite form.
The Hyundai i30 Tourer isn’t available in flagship Premium trim, but the $22,990 Active manual and $25,590 Elite manual each cost $2K more than the equivalent hatchback, while a six-speed automatic transmission adds a further $2K. The model we tested, the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder, is available exclusively in Elite trim with an automatic transmission for $31,190.
Here, the diesel engine is identical to that in the hatch, with 94kW at 4000rpm and 260Nm from 1900-2750rpm. With that drivetrain being equal, overall kerb weight is a hefty 1503kg – 90kg up on the hatch.
Despite our test car reaching into compact SUV pricing territory at $32K, it is better equipped than that segment’s entry-level cohort, offering as standard auto headlights and wipers; projector headlights; seven-inch colour touchscreen with rear view camera and integrated satellite navigation; a driver’s knee airbag; push-button start; ‘premium’ steering wheel and gearknob; illuminated vanity mirrors; dual-zone climate control; fog lights and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Proving that this small wagon is smarter than the SUV breed, boot capacity of 528L eclipses a long list of rivals, including the Mitsubishi ASX/Peugeot 4008/Citroen C4 Aircross (384L), Nissan Dualis (410L) and Subaru XV (322L). It even beats larger models like the Mitsubishi Outlander (477L), Subaru Forester (422L), Volkswagen Tiguan (395L) and Mazda CX-5 (403L).
While the rear seats split 60:40, the seat base also tumbles forward to allow a flat loading area. A 12-volt power outlet is standard, as is a cargo blind and adjustable safety barrier to prevent items tumbling into the cabin. In Elite trim, a full-size spare resides beneath the luggage lid, and doesn’t reduce luggage space, alongside various extra storage spots.
For interior practicality, versatility, and outright clever design, the Hyundai i30 Tourer is outstanding, making most of the SUVbreed look inefficient and underdone.
The interior itself is identical to that in the Hyundai i30 hatch, except for the infinitely adjustable seat backrest. That means terrific, consistently-matched soft-touch plastics, tactile controls, an intuitive centre touchscreen and ultra-comfortable fabric-covered seats.
Note the knurled silver climate control knob, the rubber-coated door handles, the auto-down switches on all power windows and a chilled glovebox as examples of this Hyundai feeling near-Golf-premium.
There’s decent rear legroom, although admittedly not as much as the Tiguan crowd, and plenty of headroom. A lack of rear-seat air vents are a disappontment, however.
Despite the inclusion of more sophisticated rear suspension, the Hyundai i30 Tourer – like the ix35 compact SUV – hails straight from its Czech manufacturing plant in stock European chassis tune, unfettled by Hyundai’s Australian tuners like the i30 hatch is.
Thankfully the i30 Tourer drives nicely on Australian roads. If anything it is sweeter than its hatchback sibling. Testing the i30 hatch in a comparison test earlier this year, a particularly evil mid-corner bump threw the rear end off its intended line. In that test, I wrote “only those pushing on will find the lack of finesse disconcerting – the torsion beam rear suspension hops and skips over large bumps that the others steamroll, and the stability control is the most aggressive in operation”.
The rear suspension and stability control in the i30 Tourer are repectively more composed and calmer. The wagon rides on the same 2650mm wheelbase as the hatch, but overall length increases by 185mm, meaning a longer rear overhang.
Not sure if that explains the i30 Tourer’s extra keenness to respond to a lift of the throttle mid corner, because it now swings into oversteer more readily, yet the stability control is also less aggressive in operation.
Ride quality on the sensibly-chubby Hankook tyres is excellent around town, yet the suspension maintains both comfort and control on an Aussie backroad. It feels very European … very, Volkswagen Golf.
The steering – with the same three-mode Flex Steer system as the hatch – isn’t the sharpest or most tactile wheels-pointer in the class, but again it feels a little more consistent than in the hatch. It’s too light in Comfort and too resistant and heavy in Sport, but Normal feels decent; ironically, the steering is good on a winding road, but too vague around town where most i30 Tourers will spend their time.
It’s the 1.6-litre turbo diesel that lets the side down slightly. It remains a wonderfully vibration-free, and only slightly clattery, diesel that returned a good 7.6L/100km on test in mixed conditions (within grasp of its 6.9L/100km ADR claim).
But the engine is simply too small to cope with the i30 Tourer’s mass. It is helped hugely by a brilliant six-speed automatic that smartly grabs lower gears early, and holds them where appropriate. Foot to floor acceleration is bordering on the slow, although with plenty of torque down low in the rev range, refinement and general driveability is fine.
We can’t help thinking, however, that the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine available overseas in the i30 – with a lusty 103kW and 304Nm on tap – would be the smarter option.
Other than the small-but-willing diesel and lack of steering tactility, there isn’t a lot to criticise this Hyundai about.
It has a fine ride and handling balance, a high-quality interior, is packed with features, roomy and versatile, and backed by an excellent warranty and after-sales package.
As a small wagon for families on the smaller side, the Hyundai i30 Tourer makes a whole load of sense.