The changes to the 2016 Hyundai i30 SR are relatively minor, but when you’re dealing with a variant of what is currently Australia’s best-selling car, the phrase “ain’t broke, don’t fix” comes to mind.
A local initiative, the i30 SR first burst into existence in 2013 sporting a 2.0-litre engine and suspension package developed by Hyundai Australia’s enthusiastic and passionate chassis engineers.
The concept was well received and Hyundai head office adapted the concept for the Korean domestic market, adding some cosmetic touches of its own. These enhancements have now made their way onto Aussie SRs.
Most of the effort has been concentrated on the interior, the new sports bucket seats sporting chunky side bolsters and red seat inserts, black headlining replacing the previous drab grey and there’s red stitching on the seats, steering wheel and front arm rests.
The SR Premium adds sat-nav and a panoramic sunroof over the $26,550 SR; the roof can be added separately to the base SR for $2000, but sadly the nav cannot, though Apple Carplay does allow drivers to use the navigation in their smartphone.
Mechanically, the only change is the adoption of 17-inch alloys wearing 225/45 R17 tyres. Our chief criticism of the previous SR was the wet weather incompetence of its Hankook rubber; the Series II comes with Hankook, Kumho or Nexen tyres, but the dry conditions of the launch means we’re unable to say if there’s been any improvement in this area.
On a dry road the i30 SR is reasonably entertaining without approaching true excitement. The ride is very good, soaking up most bumps but with an underlying firmness, the steering is accurate enough (though its different modes are a waste of time) and the handling through fast corners is neutral and confidence-inspiring.
Push harder and Hyundai’s warm hatch will slowly fall into varying degrees of understeer, with any effort to involve the rear end more or less ignored. Drive within its limits, though, and it’s willing and entertaining.
Driveability tweaks robbed the 2.0-litre atmo four of 5kW/8Nm some time back, but that’s not enough to make a difference, the engine revving with reasonable enthusiasm towards its 6750rpm redline.
The six-speed auto feels marginally keener, and can now be controlled with shift paddles, but the $2300 premium makes the manual the better bet. In fact, the less you can spend on an i30 SR the better, its value proposition strong at $26,550 but a lot shakier at the $33,550 top end.
The Mazda 3 SP25 is still a more capable steer, but the death of the Kia Proceed GT and impending demise of the Holden Cruze SRi means the warm hatch ranks are thinning, so it’s worth putting the i30 SR on your shopping list. Mind you, given its sales figures, it’s probably already on it.
Just remember, there’s an all-new i30 due next year.
Engine: 1999cc inline-4cyl, DOHC, 16v
Power: 124kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 201Nm @ 4700rpm
0-100km/h: 7.7sec (claimed)