SAMPLING the finer things in life has drawbacks.
Fortunate circumstances have led us behind the wheel of some of the finest cars to grace our roads. With that perspective comes aforementioned downsides.
Luxury marques have the latest features, and those niceties quickly become expectations. Well, that's the case for my lovely bride.
More than a decade in the automotive realm has led to expensive tastes.
So it proved momentous when perceptions and reality proved poles apart for the Hyundai i30 SR Premium.
"I was expecting something honest, reliable and practical,” better half Kel said.
"I certainly got a surprise. Purely the amount of different functions and how much punch the car has got.
"There really wasn't anything I didn't like about the i30.”
That's impressive praise from a woman with lofty standards. Yours truly the exception.
Simple inclusions made for a happy wife. Number one was Apple CarPlay.
The smartphone mirroring functionality app (also applicable for Android Auto) works by plugging into the USB port. The phone's basic functionality is then available via the touchscreen: your texts are read aloud and you can reply via Siri, listen to podcasts or your music, and there is also access to Maps which can double as sat nav (but the Hyundai one is better).
Number two was the seats. Leather trimmed, the heating and cooling functionality proved popular for mum and kids alike.
Cool mornings saw rear ends warmed, while after sitting in the sun for long periods the car and seats cooled rapidly.
Most important was the spirited performance. Borrowing the phrase from Scott McLachlan, when you "give it some jandal” the 1.6-litre turbo responds with gusto.
Not insanely quick, the turbocharged performance offers restrained surges dictated by your right foot. From standstill you can reach 100km/h in 7.5 seconds. That's reasonably swift.
Gear changes from the seven-speed automatic are timely and sweet, but there is the option for manual-style shifts via small steering wheel paddles.
While the bride was surprised with the standard features list, the handling capabilities go above and beyond expectations. Cutting through bends with ease it takes the worst of our roads to unsettle the ride.
Equipped with independent rear suspension (entry models get a beam axle), that enables engineers to offer unparallelled control. Most drivers would struggle to notice the difference although those who love to push the boundaries will embrace its abilities.
You're not going to hammer through a carpark at spectacular speeds dodging and weaving through the elderly because of multi-link, but it's definitely something which comes to the fore when on rural, twisty terrain.
Fuel consumption hovers between eight and nine litres in the real world, slightly higher than the official 7.5 figure. That's not super heavy, nor is it remarkably frugal. It primarily depends on the weight of your right foot.
The warranty coverage runs for five years and unlimited kilometres, and if your maintain servicing with Hyundai dealers there is a roadside support plan for at least 10 years.
Servicing is required every 10,000km or annually - which can be painful given most vehicles nowadays are around 15,000km. Capped price servicing is available, with the average price $305 for the first five services which is a good deal in comparison to rivals.
There is an option for a pre-paid servicing plan with monthly instalments.
Sat nav updates are also free if you stick with Hyundai dealer servicing.
Problems were few and far between.
One minor issue was the hands-free entry. If the key was in your pocket or hand bag, the electric mirrors open, but the doors remain locked until you press the handle button.
Most cars with similar functionality open when you pull the handle.
Being a small hatch, we also couldn't fit all the gear for a beach trip. That means roof racks would be a must-have investment.
MAZDA3 SP25 ASTINA ($33,490)
Boasts sophisticated driver assist technology like the i30, like collision warning with automatic emergency braking in forward (from 4-80km/h) and radar cruise control, good all-round performer.
HOLDEN ASTRA RS-V ($30,740)
Impressive package for the coin. Not the classiest interior around, but it's certainly quick. Servicing is every nine months.
VW GOLF 110TSI HIGHLINE ($34,490)
Probably the most refined, luxurious and comfortable car in the small hatch line-up, with sweet engine, but servicing and any mechanical issues can be expensive.
Not everyone has to follow the SUV fashion. The i30 SR is a fine example of a vehicle which has vastly better driving dynamics, performance and features than the SUV equivalent.
Opt to downsize from something bigger and you can save thousands on the initial outlay and throughout ongoing maintenance.
But the big question, would we buy one with our own money? Absolutely.
AT A GLANCE
Hyundai i30 SR Premium
PRICE $33,950 plus on-roads.
ENGINE 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol 150kW/265Nm.
THIRST 7.5 litres/100km (combined average).
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed automatic, FWD.
SAFETY Five-star, seven airbags.
SPARE Space saver (full size can be optioned).
DIMENSIONS 4340 mm (L), 1795 mm (W), 1455 mm (H), 2650 mm (WB)
TOWING 1300kg (braked); tow ball 75kg.
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