Car reviews - Hyundai - i30 - Sedan Elite
Underlying playfulness to chassis, overall styling, space, ergonomics
Room for improvement
Build quality, speed camera warning system, not an i30
Hyundai replaces slow-selling Elantra with i30 Sedan, does it live up to the name?
27 Jan 2021
HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) recently introduced the new i30 Sedan to the Australian market as a replacement for its slow-selling Elantra, a small sedan offered in the same segment as the ever-popular i30 hatch.
To try and inject some more sales action into the class and help overhaul the Toyota Corolla as the king of the sub-$40,000 small car segment, HMCA decided to rebadge the new fourth-generation Elantra as the i30 Sedan and capitalise on the nameplate’s popularity.
The thing is though, the i30 Sedan isn’t an i30 – it rides on a completely different platform for starters and shares none of the hatch’s panels on top of being a whole 310mm longer.
We were curious as to if this new bigger offering was worthy of wearing the i30 badge or if it would be better off sticking with the Elantra nameplate after all.
The i30 Sedan is certainly a striking looking thing, full of angles and creases and contours with the overall silhouette being more fastback than sedan.
That look is complemented nicely by the angular two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, even if they do flirt with the line between being smart and a bit busy.
Really our only gripe with the styling is the front end which lacks the same sense of aggression as the facelifted i30 hatch – sure, there are some squinty lights and a contrasting grille, but the whole arrangement just doesn’t quite seem to gel together as well as it ought to.
The upcoming N-Line manages to pull it off thanks to its blacked-out features, more aggressive bumper and extra air vents but we aren’t quite convinced with the standard versions – our test car was a mid-range Elite which asks $30,790 plus on-road costs.
We have no complaints with the rest of the body however which carves out a definite sense of identity for the Sedan and that theme is carried on inside the cabin where we find a completely different cabin layout to the hatch.
While initially on the busy side, most of the cabin’s features and controls have been laid out reasonably well with decent ergonomics afforded for both the driver and the passenger, with special mention going to the row of shortcut buttons adorning the dash below the 10.25-inch infotainment screen.
This row of buttons made navigating the infotainment system a breeze with the system itself being both crisp in its display and quick in its functions, save for the speed camera alert system that chimes from end to end of average speed zones regardless of how you set the system.
We were actually forced on more than one occasion to pull over and restart the car in order to shut the system up, with the apparent mute control buried under five layers of sub-menus deep within the infotainment system.
The switchgear also proved to be one of the early giveaways of the i30 Sedan’s biggest stumbling point; questionable build quality.
The most evident example of this – during our experience at least – is the way the drive mode button on the centre console gets stuck down when pressed on a vaguely warm day and only able to be pried back up again once the cabin temperature has cooled.
Cheap cabin materials don’t help the cause either with hard plastics used for a lot of the dash and centre console while the door trims also just feel hard and cheap, so much so our test car actually had a rattle in the driver’s door which could only be cured by physically pushing on the trim.
By stark contrast, the chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in the hands and the all-digital instrument cluster matches the infotainment system in being crisp, concise and easy to read.
There is also nothing wrong with the quality of the leather seat upholstery, even if the seats themselves are all manually adjustable only.
Cabin space is in abundance with decent head and shoulder room up front and great legroom in the rear, and we’re pleased to see a set of rear air vents and armrest made the cut.
Under the bonnet resides a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 117kW of power and 191Nm of torque, all of which is fed to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
The powertrain is a proven one, being both smooth and quiet around town as well as reasonably frugal with just enough punch to make some half decent headway in traffic, however it does struggle a little out in the country where the overall lack of torque makes itself apparent.
It’s a similar story when getting up to speed on a freeway or major highway – it certainly isn’t quick, bordering on slow in fact, but it is enough given its primarily suburban intentions.
Once up to speed, the i30 Sedan is actually not a bad cruiser with road and wind noise decent for the class, but the real star of the show is the ride which has been tuned specifically for Australian roads as with most Hyundais.
On the open road the i30 Sedan’s ride is comfortable and controlled, never really kicking, wallowing or bucking over severe bumps and ironing out the smaller ones to the point of hardly being noticeable.
It definitely errs on the softer side of the equation, something that becomes apparent when a few corners are thrown into the mix with the soft tuning not lending itself overly well to mid-corner line changes or quick changes of direction, but it’s perfectly fine for this kind of vehicle.
There is however a subtle playfulness to the chassis itself which feels decently taut around town, especially when hustling between traffic islands or roundabouts.
The steering is quick with the car often feeling smaller and lighter than it actually is, not to mention the rear end which can feel a little lively when really pushed.
On the daily grind the i30 Sedan goes about its business with minimal fuss thanks to its smooth drivetrain, comfortable ride, abundance of space and decent turning circle.
While fine for an extended run up and down the freeway, it can’t really hope to challenge a bigger mid-sized car like the Mazda6 or Subaru Liberty as a half-day hauler, despite not being too far off dimensionally.
Overall the new i30 Sedan is a reasonably well rounded and competent car with plenty of space, refinement and style to keep most urban buyers happy.
It doesn’t excel in one area or another – aside from space – but it also doesn’t do anything especially badly either, aside from the infuriating speed camera alert system which HMCA says it will look into rectifying.
We’re still not sure if it should brandish an i30 badge as it's just so different to look at and be in, although we wouldn’t be surprised if the next generation hatch takes some cues from the Sedan.
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