Car reviews - Hyundai - i30 - Go
Roomy and well-finished cabin, peppy performance, slick automatic, great steering and handling, available active safety option
Room for improvement
Plain cabin, thirsty engine, expensive auto, pricey diesel, some suspension boom, lacks active safety tech
While the i30 goes down in price, can the new Go take Hyundai small car sales up?
8 Oct 2018
IN TAXATION they call it bracket creep, where workers enjoy a pay rise only to just fall into the next band of higher government charity. But in automotive terms, it could be tagged segment creep.
The previous-generation i30 Active was so affordable that sales bled from the light-car segment into the small-car segment, with 90 per cent of Hyundai i30 buyers purchasing that entry-level model grade. Then, when this new-generation launched mid last year, the price moved higher just as segment sales started to bleed into the similarly priced small-SUV segment, slightly higher again.
Volume stalled and so Hyundai introduced this i30 Go, which this year has absorbed 20 per cent of sales (it still leaves the Active to absorb a dominant 55 per cent slice). While more i30 buyers are spending more, as Hyundai predicted, three-quarters still buy a base model.
The question is, should you?
Price and equipment
The Go starts from $19,990 plus on-road costs with a six-speed manual, or $22,290 for the optional six-speed automatic transmission.
That is down from $20,950/$23,250 respectively, when the Active launched as entry to the new-generation i30 line-up, but that model grade now rises to $21,090/$23,390 respectively, courtesy of an added leather-wrapped steering wheel and electric-fold door mirrors.
For the Go, Hyundai has replaced the Active’s 16-inch alloy wheels with steel wheels and hubcaps of the same diameter, while a digital radio and integrated satellite navigation have been ditched from the 8.0-inch touchscreen. And while a rearview camera remains, rear parking sensors are gone.
For both the auto-equipped i30 Go and i30 Active, a $1750-optional SmartSense package can be further added, incorporating adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning with active lane-keep assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, plus other niceties such as a colour trip computer screen, electric parkbrake and rear-seat air vents.
The high-resolution touchscreen is now best engaged with via USB-connected Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, given the removal of digital radio and nav, but at least the interface remains slick and quick in response to user input, and the rearview camera remains very sizeable.
What also remains are highlights intrinsic to this Hyundai small car. This includes superb build quality, including both immaculate fit-and-finish and tightly consistent control weightings of all stalks, dials and even the auto lever détente. Both front and rear seats are nicely trimmed in cloth, comfortable and supportive, with rear legroom being the only squeezier-than-average dimension.
Similarly, up-front storage space is excellent, where door bottle holders, twin cupholders, and both open-tray and lidded-console compartments are included. However, in the back a centre armrest with the usual cupholders is lacking – with only door bottleholders and seatback map pockets present. But what the i30 lacks in rear room, it also makes up for with an outstanding 395-litre boot volume that is square and usable, and more impressive given a full-size spare wheel is underfloor.
Engine and transmission
With 120kW of power delivered at 6200rpm and 203Nm of torque produced at 4700rpm, Hyundai’s 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine delivers among the highest outputs in the class. It is also instantly responsive, smoothly energetic and enormously flexible, with dues also going to the highly intuitive but costly six-speed automatic. Costly? Well, the Kia Cerato asks $1500 for its likewise excellent auto, yet this i30 asks $2200 extra.
However, there at least seems to be more substantial sound deadening in this small hatchback than there is in that raucous fellow South Korean small sedan (and soon also hatch), in which the manual versions otherwise retail for the same price as this Go (but further get free on-road costs included).
In any case, there is a dip in proceedings when it comes to fuel economy. That is because, while the combined-cycle claim of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres starts higher than rivals such as the Mazda3 Neo Sport, Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport and Volkswagen Golf 110TSI, on-test consumption initially saw 12.0L/100km around town, then 8.9L/100km after freer running.
The disappointing result is at least alleviated by the use of regular unleaded, but, unlike the Volkswagen that requires premium unleaded. Hyundai also offers an optional 1.6-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder unit that claims 4.7L/100km in auto guise, but for a $2700 surcharge over both the i30 Go and i30 Active. By contrast, the hybrid Corolla claims 4.2L/100km and asks only a $1500 premium over its 2.0-litre petrol-only equivalent model grade.
Ride and handling
As Hyundai switches to newer generation models, it is finally curing some of the steering and electronic stability control (ESC) calibration ills of older generations. Gone is the ill-weighted and vague steering of the previous-gen i30, replaced by sharp and tight response across the ratio. There is now only one caveat – although the weighting is now consistent, it is too weighty at low speed.
Even wearing modest 16-inch tyres, and with a simple torsion beam rear suspension setup, the Go really does get up and do just that through corners. The new-gen i30 is balanced and stable, fun yet mature, all ably supported by supremely well-controlled spring and damper rates, plus subtle ESC.
Where the suspension setup continues to fall down slightly is in terms of ride quality. Ordinarily this entry-level small car rides decently, with nothing to report in terms of hardness or harshness.
But what is gained in rough-road control is lost somewhat in low- and middle-speed compliance, which remains busier than Mazda3, Corolla and Golf. Yet such rivals match the i30’s level progress.
Only the pricier i30 SR Turbo gains independent rear suspension (IRS) that is already standard on the above rivals, and it is clear the addition of that sophisticated setup is not only to improve handling, but to better deal with bumps large and small. Another oddity of base i30s sampled over the past year is in-cabin boom over sharp hits, which is absent from the IRS-equipped model grade.
Safety and servicing
Seven airbags (including dual front, front-side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee protection), ABS, electronic stability control (ESC) and rearview camera are all standard.
ANCAP has tested the Hyundai i30 Go in 2017, and it achieved 35.01 out of 38 points for a five-star rating.
Annual or 15,000km intervals cost a capped-price $777 total over three years or 45,000km.
The i30 Go is great value with a six-speed manual transmission, but only this optional six-speed automatic gets the further option of a SmartSense safety package that makes for extra-cost additions of $2200 and $1750 respectively. Suddenly, this $19,990 model grade strikes up a $24,040 total.
Meanwhile, the likes of the Mazda3 Neo Sport and (sedan only) Cerato S both offer standard AEB and a digital radio for $21,490 driveaway and $23,490 in automatic guise respectively, albeit without the adaptive cruise control and other niceties that Hyundai adds within SmartSense.
If you can do without AEB then that is fine, but increasingly rivals are continuing to offer this potentially life-saving technology as standard, or for a lesser premium. If it has to be packaged with other items here, then the surcharge for an automatic transmission should arguably be lower.
Even so, the entry-level Hyundai i30 certainly deserves some more fine-tuning with its value equation. This is an energetic and enjoyable small car topped by great quality and a fine warranty.
Kia Cerato S auto from $21,490 driveway
Not as refined to drive as i30 Go, but this AEB- and auto-equipped base model is better value.
Mazda3 Neo Sport auto from $23,490 plus on-road costs
Priced $100 higher than an i30 Active, yet with AEB standard, the Mazda3 remains the benchmark.
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