AS MELBOURNE’S insufferable winter gives way to a glimmer of spring hope, I’m looking at the i30 SR less as a refuge from the stinging cold that I occupy mostly after dark, and increasingly as a space in which to spend quality time as the mercury creeps north.
Instead of automatically reaching for the heated seat switch and gas mark 12, the balmier weather has prompted the use of effective front seat coolers, while the large panoramic roof has made its debut coming out from behind the full-length blind like the welcome sun from behind Victoria’s cloud.
The longer days and drier roads have beckoned and I couldn’t resist getting lost in the rolling hills north east of Melbourne’s sprawl, where the thinning suburbs turn into a labyrinth of mountain ash-lined roads – perfect for a hottish hatch that has only just scrubbed off its new-tyre whiskers.
I really like the eagerness of the i30 SR and how its pointy front end coupled to a lively rear suspension set-up goads you to drive enthusiastically even at low speeds, and when away from the shackles of urban cruising the Hyundai thanks you for giving in to its advances.
Unlike a Volkswagen Golf, which has more rear-end grip than at the front wheels, the i30’s tune is tail happy and more involving in the twisty bits. Tighter corners provoke a little more roll than I was expecting but that’s completely absent in longer sweeping bends.
Power and braking performance are the perfect match for its chassis and only some strange smells after the fun was over indicated this steed had never before been pushed to the edge of its performance envelope.
After some nine-tenths driving, the cruise home necessitated some contrasting freeway kilometres and a chance to flick on the adaptive cruise control and let the i30 take a more commanding role.
The sticky tyres that had provided a welcome insurance policy along tree-lined roads are a little noisy on coarse chipped, high-speed asphalt but that’s about the only thing that detracts from the i30’s otherwise excellent road manners.
I’ve also been really enjoying the excellent information and entertainment system which is intuitive and logical with easy to understand graphics and some genuinely useful features. Automatic guidance to a fuel station when the reserve light comes on and spoken speed-limit warnings as you approach an enforcement camera have each saved my dignity more than once.
I can’t wait for another summery weekend to do it all again, next time with company.
The i30 SR has been attracting compliments completely without invitation from its temporary custodian. Without prompting or bribe, one observer commented how ‘European’ the little hatchback looks, another liked the exterior styling and colour, and matching interior highlights. Hyundai will be overjoyed to hear the words ‘smart’ and ‘cool’ used to describe its car outside of the catalogue’s pages.
WEEK 8 34 44 3 0 0 2 8 7 9 3 SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY Date acquired: August 2017 Price as tested: $34,445 This month: 1890km @ 8.1L/100km Overall: 2479km @ 8.1L/100km