Hyundai i30 CW

Small wagon version does big things with Hyundai's i30 hatch

Hyundai i30 CW

Local Launch
Hunter Valley, NSW

What we liked
>> Decent drive, especially diesel model
>> Cargo packaging pieces; spaciousness... and reasonably priced.
>> Hatch model's good looks carried over to wagon

Not so much
>> Petrol engine is wanting
>> Wind noise; road noise from 17-inch wheels
>> No diesel Sportswagon version... yet

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0
Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 3.5/5.0
Price, Packaging and Practicality: 4.5/5.0
Safety: 4.0/5.0
Behind the wheel: 3.5/5.0
X-factor: 3.0/5.0

About our ratings

Extending, literally, on the success of the Euro-designed hatch released almost two years ago, Hyundai's i30 cw ('cw' for crossover wagon) joins a small crowd of compact cargo carriers offered locally.

Recently Australians haven't been too demanding for a wagon option, according to Hyundai. Figures support the case: last year only 30,000 cars sold were wagons, equating to 3 per cent of the market. Hyundai reasons the downturn in demand is due to the influx of SUVs, with around 30 per cent of owners never using the would-be offroaders for anything other than big wagon duties.

But Hyundai says the new i30 variant will help refocus attention on wagons.

Hyundai's own research suggests small sedan/hatch buyers are very different to small wagon buyers, however, the company believes all small car shoppers should size up this variant. With hatch-like handling, refinement and tidy lines, it's certainly no compromise if you're stuck with cargo-hauling duties.

The i30 cw is built on same production line in Nosovice, Czech Republic as the five-door hatchback model.

Currently only Japan's 'big(gest) three' outsell the hatch version: Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Mitsubishi Lancer, and the i30 holds its own against Subaru's Impreza and the Euros in the likes of VW Golf, Ford Focus and the Holden-badged Astra.

The wagon version stands to do even better than the hatch. With only Astra and Peugeot's 308 SW in its way in terms of diesel options, and a dearth of small car 'carrier' models with petrol engines, the i30 cw is a welcome option. It undercuts both the Holden and Peugeot on price to boot.

Perhaps erring on the safe side, Hyundai anticipates 15 per cent of i30 sales will be wagons.

The brand can declare that despite "the car market being in decline" Hyundai Australia is running ahead of expectations. For the first two months of this year and prior to the launch of the i30cw, Hyundai managed over 5 per cent market share. That's the best performance for the brand since it became a factory subsidiary around four years ago.

Hyundai Australia directly attributes the recent sales success to the release of the i30 hatch which "proved the brand was heading in the right direction", according to company spokesman Kevin McCann.

In terms of the i30 wagon's marketing, some will be pleased to know that the endearing and discerning Jack Russell makes a comeback on Australian and New Zealand television advertising for the model, as he did for the hatch. Except this time he's a little longer…

The undercurrent to Hyundai's marketing strategy for the wagon is, simply: right car, right time. Again, without too many small wagons from which to choose, we'd have to agree.

The i30 wagon is available for $1500 more than the equivalent hatch model but for that, buyers get loads more space and wagon 'specialities' including rear cargo net and cover, and roof rails. The cw also comes with a cooled glovebox and 12V socket in the rear.

Cargo storage includes a mesh barrier that can be attached forward to protect the front passengers when the rear seats are folded.

The wagon's specification levels largely resemble those for the hatch (more here). Cheapest start-up is at $20,890 for the SX petrol manual version. Automatic transmission costs an extra $2000 across the range.

The SX comes with MP3/WMA/CD (and iPod compatible) audio system with four speakers and 15-inch steel wheels.

Starting at $27,390, the mid-spec SLX rolls on 16-inch alloys and gains driver and front passenger side (thorax) airbags, and front and rear passenger curtain airbags. The extra safety kit is available for SX variants in a 'Protectz' pack upgrade. See under SAFETY for details.

The SLX also boasts front foglamps, body-colour door handles, chrome interior door handles and other trim embellishments, full auto climate control, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and transmission shift knob, mesh cloth seat fabric, driver's lumbar support, trip computer, multi-function steering wheel and two additional (tweeter) speakers.

Rear park assist comes standard on the SLX and Sportswagon models, and can be fitted to the SX. The SX can also be ordered with the fogs and cruise control for an additional $400.

Hyundai has dropped the SR moniker for the top-spec model wagon, and instead refers to the rangetopper -- actually a "launch edition" model -- as the 'Sportswagon'. That's SPORTSwagon; one word.

The petrol and auto-only i30 cw Sportswagon retails at $29,990 and gets leather trim, rain sensing wipers and 17-inch alloy wheels in the same design as the SR hatch. Two exterior colours are offered: (a very) Vivid Blue and Continental Silver.

Unlike the hatches, all wagon models feature indicator repeaters in the side mirrors.

We detailed the i30's petrol and diesel engines in our launch review of the hatch model in October '07 here.

The i30 cw offers the same drivetrain options as the hatch, namely a 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine with continuous variable valve timing, rated at 105kW/186Nm, and 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine using common rail direct-injection, rated at 85kW/255Nm.

Both engines are offered with the choice of either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Unlike at the hatch launch, Hyundai is making available an automatic option (in addition to manual) for the diesel version of the cw from the outset.

Fuel consumption for the petrol engine wagon model is rated at 7.3L/100km with the five-speed manual, and 7.7L/100km for the auto-equipped version. Claimed CO2 emissions are 174g/km (manual) and 183g/km (auto).

The diesel i30 cw uses 4.9L/100km with manual, or 6.0L/100km with automatic transmission. CO2 emissions are rated at 128g/km (manual) and 159g/km (auto).

Like the hatch, the i30 cw uses MacPherson strut suspension up front, and multilink rear suspension. Hyundai says the i30's suspension and steering have been optimised for local conditions including thicker sway bars, uprated shock absorbers and revised mapping of the ECU for the car's electric-assisted steering system.

All i30 models get four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

The i30 cw is 230mm longer than the hatch, with a slightly longer (2700mm compared to 2650mm) wheelbase and rear overhang (900mm v 720mm) delivering 415 litres of cargo space in the rear with the seats in place, or 1395 litres with the rear seats folded.

Unlike some of the latest compact SUVs, the i30 wagon doesn't have a folding front seat to allow for extra long cargo. However, the rear cargo space is (almost) flat, and the interior side 'walls' don't impede on space. There's also a full-sized spare wheel under the cargo floor.

The rear door is well-shaped (squarish) so loading is made easier, especially compared to some other 'sport wagons' with over-styled rear doors.

Full-length roof rails are included standard on all models, with rail load rated at 80kg. Hyundai is also offering 'Lifestyle' accessories for the i30 cw, including factory ski bars and bike storage.

The wagon version is 40mm taller than the i30 hatch, at 1565mm including the roof rails, compared to the i30 hatch at 1480mm. The wagon gains around 50kg over the hatch, depending on whether it's diesel or petrol engine-equipped.

Headroom was already generous in the hatch and the wagon is no exception, even if the additional space registers at sub-10mm (987mm compared to 980mm).

Most striking is the additional rear legroom for the wagon. It's officially only 4 per cent extra at 926mm (i30 hatch is 890mm) but the spaciousness for rear occupants speaks volumes. Even with the front seats pushed all the way back there's ample leg and foot room for rear passengers.

The i30 hatch earned five stars in EuroNCAP testing and Hyundai is claiming the same for the wagon model.

All models come standard with stability control (incorporating traction control), ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, active head restraints for front passengers, and front passenger airbags.

As noted above, the SLX and Sportswagon variants come with driver and front passenger side (thorax) airbags, and front passenger curtain airbags. The SX can be ordered with the extra airbags in Hyundai's 'Protectz' pack for $700, making the base model's safety rating i30 cw five-star.

In terms of oiler options there's only Holden Astra wagon, starting at around $30K, and the Peugeot 308 wagon for $33K. Both the Euros were awarded a five-star safety rating.

Hyundai also lists Holden's Viva wagon as a competitor, though we'd have to say that's a pretty soft target. The Korean-built small hauler is equipped with a 1.8-litre engine and retails for $22,290. The i30's fit, finish and manners are a leap ahead of the Holden.

Mitsubishi is still selling 'leftover' CH Lancer wagons, starting at $22,490 for the ES spec with manual. Only the 'old' Lancer has a warranty that's anywhere near as good as Hyundai's...

At first it's difficult to discern you're driving a wagon, instead of the worthy little i30 hatch, such is the controlled feel behind the wheel and connection between road and driver.

The wagon has the same steering quality as the hatch, despite the extra length and bulk, with a good 'weighty' feel but as we said in our launch review (more here), there's little fluctuation in feedback throughout the reaches.

Hyundai says it optimised the i30's suspension settings for Australian conditions. It's a good set-up that absorbs most local road intrusions and at all times feel connected to the road via steering feedback. Suspension noise is sometimes heard over harsh surfaces, such as potholes and the like.

We drove only auto-equipped models, and it's a well-behaved unit that downshifts when you'd expect, but is better matched to the diesel i30. The petrol engine was sometimes exposed for its at-times 'flattened' power delivery. Both powerplants would benefit from a 'proper' five or six-speed auto.

Drivers get height adjustable seat and tilt and telescopic steering; the latter we assumed de rigueur until driving the new Mazda MX-5 the other day... Taking features like this for granted sells the i30 short. It really is a well thought-out base package; all the better for its wagon-isation!

The i30 cw shows little if any evidence of the cabin 'booming' sometimes found in other wagons, but wind noise -- presumably from the roof rails -- is detectable and the larger alloys fitted to the Sportswagon model turn up the volume of road noise.

The compact wagon has a spacious interior, including excellent legroom for front and rear passengers, and ample headroom throughout for adult-sized occupants. We had two pieces of luggage and a laptop in the rear, placed under the standard-fit cargo net and they didn't move despite the twisties around the Hunter Valley wine region. Very handy!

Rearward vision is good through the large hatch window and triangular glass side inserts serve to help sight around the D-pillar. The audio-only rear park assist should prove a boon for touch parkers...

Overall, the i30 cw is a tidy, small hauler that rivals its hatch sibling for composure on the road and passenger comfort. And Hyundai has included some excellent wagon-specific features as standard, otherwise usually requiring a tick in the options list of its competitors.

We'll agree with the maker that all small car buyers should consider the i30 wagon, rather than just go for the default choice of small sedan or hatch. This shape-shifting i30 cw will accommodate shoppers for its road manners alone, and provide handy space you might think you don't need.


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Published : Monday, 23 March 2009
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