While some folks can afford to pick the car they want, go for the range-topping variant and then add anything missing as an extra cost option, most buyers face a bit more of a juggling act.
They have to weigh up the asking price against the features they want or can do without — and we think the i30 Elite hatch absolutely nails this value equation.
At $30,220 plus on roads, it’s hardly bargain basement territory for a small car, but nor is it nudging flagship price — despite having some gear you’d expect on a range-topping variant.
Though the current i30 is getting on a bit by small car standards — it arrived in 2017 — it was updated in October. Standard gear includes alloy wheels, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (impressive), a 7.0-inch colour LCD Supervision cluster, leather steering wheel and gear knob, an electronic parking brake and air-conditioning vents for rear occupants.
The Elite also scores a leather interior, 17-inch alloy wheels, a crystal-clear 10.25-inch navigation unit, Infinity premium audio system, keyless entry and start, digital radio, dual-zone climate control and wireless phone charging.
That’s some pretty impressive kit, while safety gear includes blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, collision-avoidance assist, driver-attention warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and more.
It’s also had a design tweak, most noticeably the LED daytime running lights, which borrow the striking ‘parametric pattern’ seen on the upcoming new-generation Tucson.
Of course, you might be wondering where the corner-cutting is to keep the price low given the high spec level — and the answer is under the bonnet.
The Elite misses out on a turbo engine, which others in this price bracket offer — including its cheaper, $29,420 i30 N-Line stablemate.
But you get more gear in the Elite, plus its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol four is actually very good.
It revs willingly around town, offering good off-the-mark acceleration and combining well with an unobtrusive six-speed conventional auto.
Add in some very sound steering and local suspension work and you have a fun car to chuck around.
The claimed 7.4L/100km is pretty high for the class, especially when for this money you can get an aforementioned turbo unit, or a very frugal hybrid.
Still, we’d argue the fun factor makes up for it.
The engine can run out of puff and struggle a tad when asked to accelerate through the mid-range at higher speeds, though, and sometimes feels and sounds like it’s working hard.
Combined with some ample tyre roar and the i30 isn’t the most refined cabin you’ll find — especially on coarser surfaces.
The second row is also pretty tight, even for a small car — but there’s better news further back.
Competitors such as the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 have made the cargo areas in their hatches so small — 217 and 295 litres respectively — you almost have to opt for the sedan version if you want to cart anything substantial.
The i30 offers a relatively generous 395 litres, but if it’s really not enough there’s also now an i30 Elite sedan (the vehicle formerly known as the Elantra), offering an extra 79 litres of cargo space for an additional $570 on the list price.
Still one of the best small cars out there, with some seriously generous spec for the price and engine which overcomes its shortcomings by being fun to drive.
2021 HYUNDAI i30 ELITE HATCH SPECIFICATIONS
- Price: $30,220
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
- Outputs: 120kW/203Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Fuel economy: 7.4L/100km