Korean cars have also taken on Euro sensibilities, and the born-in-Europe Hyundai i30 wagon shows this in its excellent estate form
Hyundai has improved in leaps and bounds compared to where it was a decade ago. Attractive designs, generous equipment lists, and solid refinement mean “value” is no longer the sole reason to consider a Hyundai – although that’s still one of the brand’s biggest attractions.
Case in point, the made-in-Europe i30 hatchback. When we reviewed it earlier this year we said it might well be the best sub-$100k car on sale in Singapore, especially considering you get more standard features and a comparable driving experience for a lower price than key rivals like the Volkswagen Golf.
Well now you can add superior versatility to the list as well, with this, the i30 Wagon. It’s one of only four C-segment wagons available here, and in keeping with the value theme, is almost the lowest-priced of the bunch: at S$104,999 (with Certificate of Entitlement), the i30 Wagon costs just $5,000 more than the hatch.
For that, you get an extra 245mm of car, all aft of the rear wheels, which corresponds to a second-best-in-class 602-litres of cargo volume with the rear seats in place, or 1,650-litres with them folded flat (207- and 349-litres respectively). Only the Peugeot 308 SW will swallow more barang barang.
Pure numbers are a bit meaningless in isolation though, so just to give you an inkling of the i30 Wagon’s booty: a colleague had no problems fitting in his XL-sized rabbit cage (replete with a fluffy bundle of floppy-eared adorableness), and my sister’s bass guitar could lie flat across the floor with ample space to spare.
Additionally, there’s also a cargo net that can be affixed to keep, say, a particularly active dog from jumping across to the seats, and underfloor storage compartments to prevent small items from doing laps around the boot floor, although admittedly the cargo tonneau cover is a right pain to remove if you need to haul stuff with the seats down.
Apart from that, the car’s almost exactly the same as we remembered from half a year ago. On the move, there’s a pleasant fluency to the way the car ambles down a road, with a light but accurate helm, and a well-weighted brake pedal that’s easy to modulate smoothly.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is also supremely well insulated, so much so that I did a double take when I first started the car, I muted the radio, turned off the aircon and restarted the engine, just to double check that it actually had fired up.
Naturally, that also means it cruises at near silence on the highway, with perhaps only a smidge more tyre noise coming from the back compared to the i30 hatch. Combine that with the comfortable suspension and you have the perfect tool to lull the kids to sleep.
And as ever, the i30 Wagon’s equipment count impresses for the price: wireless phone charger, cruise control, reverse camera, multifunction steering wheel, 9.0-inch touchscreen with GPS, seven airbags, and auto wipers.
A caveat though: the big touchscreen sounds good on paper but it’s a sizeable let-down for what is otherwise a great family car. It’s a locally fitted unit, but the graphics are plain, the response is laggy, and the screen resolution is too low for its size, which is extremely apparent when the reversing camera is on.
Also, the navigation software is broadly unchanged from a cheap portable GPS unit my family bought several years ago, with sparse search results and an unintuitive interface.
That may sound harsh, but it’s disappointing because of how much the Koreans excel when it comes to consumer electronics – think Samsung, LG and the like.
Happily, that really is the only criticism we have of the car, which goes to show how much Hyundai got right when they developed the i30. If you can live with the infotainment, the i30 Wagon rewards with supreme refinement, cavernous space for humans and cargo alike, solid build quality and a more powerful engine than its peers, all for a very reasonable price.
Hyundai i30 1.4 GLS Wagon
|Engine||1,353cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||138hp at 6,000rpm|
|Torque||242Nm at 1,500rpm|
|VES / CO2||A2 / 125g/km CO2|
|Price||$102,999 without COE|