Interesting car, this one. We've so far mainly commuted in Australia's cheapest diesel passenger car and accomplished a dozen or so outer-urban sorties. A more challenging, and revealing, long-haul trip is imminent. That's when I fully expect to experience the i30 CRDi to the max. And to shake off an urban quirk that's meant I've had to adapt my driving style to suit the car.
I'm talking about the way the i30's tall, tall fifth is perhaps too lofty on some occasions to work well with the grunty 1.6-litre turbo-diesel when the turbo's off the boil. As a dyed-in-the-wool short-shifter in traffic, I've found that the i30's diesel donk simply doesn't like low revs and high gears.
The CRDi's 1.6-litre/variable geometry turbo combination is impressive. Its 85kW and 255Nm peaks are seriously good numbers for an engine of its size. By comparison, the recently departed long-term Skoda Roomster pumped a meagre 77kW and 240Nm from 1.9 litres.
Yet the Skoda/VW engine and the Roomster's gearing made it a better drive than the i30. In traffic, anyway. Where the Roomster could lug from minimal revs — I even went on record as saying it would still pull in fifth from 1000rpm — the i30 won't. Drop below about 1300rpm in fifth in moderately flowing traffic, and the driveline shudders alarmingly.
I'm also reserving my judgement on the i30's ride quality. It's not bad but definitely not one of the car's strong points; although I wonder how much of that is attributable to the Kumhos. Again, a long haul should provide a more definitive assessment.
Otherwise, no complaints. The car's decidedly roomy, the boot's useful and the flat-folding rear seat arrangement is a bonus. Those thickset C-pillars haven't yet caused any visibility issues, either.
Nice touches include a likeable driving position (with lumbar adjustment on the driver's seat) and easy-to-use controls and switchgear. Don't laugh; sometimes an awkward driving position and finicky controls can make a car seem less appealing than the prospect of Christmas dinner at your mother-in-law's.
Date acquired: Nov 2008
Kilometres this month: 1376
Total kilometres: 1441
Av. fuel consumption: 7.1L/100km
Maintenance: 100km free inspection service
It's still early days, but we haven't got within a bull's roar of Hyundai's claimed, hybrid-like 4.7L/100km combined fuel consumption. Mind you, we haven't yet pointed the i30 down a decent highway. That's next ... and should reveal a lot.