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Hyundai i30 wagon


A competitive entry to New Zealand's car market

There's a palpable air of optimism at Hyundai. It's number five in the sales tables year to date, up from ninth last year. And it hit second in the passenger car charts for March, knocking Ford from its perch on the back of a sales rise over the same month last year; almost unheard of in the current climate.

This year's numbers are so far pinned to the ageing Getz - which will be retained when i20 arrives later this year - and the excellent i30 hatch.

Now there's a wagon to complement the latter car and take the battle to Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Mitsubishi.

That Hyundai has the Corolla wagon in its sights says much for the quality of this car, though there are still some customer reservations about Korean brands to overcome. That it's competitive with the Japanese marques is undeniable, but the Toyota sells around three times as much as the Nissan and Ford so the i30 will have its work cut out.

Fortunately the German-designed car is as handsome as its hatch sibling, the lines so subtle that from the rear it's hard to spot as a wagon.

The rejigged proportions help, this wagon 230mm longer than the hatch with a wheelbase extended 50mm, and track up too to help offset the additional height.

There are six variants and three engines - the same as those fitted to the hatch - though the $30,990 1.6 manual is available to order only. Otherwise the 1.6, 2.0 and 2.0 Elite, and 1.6 diesel and diesel Elite are all mated to a four-speed auto transmission that does a reasonable job of transmitting power to the front wheels.

The 85kW/255Nm 1.6-litre diesel is still the pick of the bunch thanks to the engine's strong pull, with peak torque available from 1950 to 2750rpm. With three aboard the 105kW/186Nm 2.0 petrol felt the extra weight - the wagon tips the scales at 1448kg to the equivalent hatch's 1407. The benefit of course is the cargo space, at 415 litres to the hatch's 340 with all the seats in use and up to 1395 litres with the second row folded.

Handling from the four wheel independent suspension is reasonable given the car's workaday focus, though we didn't test with luggage aboard.

Specification's as good as we've come to expect from Hyundai, with the standard safety pack (fire extinguisher, high-vis vest and first aid kit) supplementing the six airbags, anti-whiplash headrests, stability control and ABS brakes fitted to every car. The Elite adds leather and cruise control, too.

A USB and aux port are also standard fare with an iPod cable for the Elite that lets you control the gadget via the steering wheel-mounted buttons; according to Hyundai, Apple NZ calls the i30 "The single best iPod accessory we've ever seen".

Wagons are only a small part of this segment, but Hyundai says this i30 will boost sales not so much via the vanishing private buyer, but because wagons are popular with fleets.

See Hyundai i30s for sale on Auto Trader here.

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