Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

New i30

In Hyundai, Volvo on November 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

Earlier this week I had the chance to try out one of the most significant medium sized hatchbacks to be launched this year.

The new i30 is commendably different to the last model.  Rather like the Golf you can see traces of the previous generation model, but this one looks more cohesive.

I could have taken an Audi A3 from our local car rental centre, but I thought I’d give the Korean a try instead.

First impressions?  Perhaps the Kia version is prettier?

The lady showing me around the car introduced a number of special features.  Wow, it’s packed with goodies, even on basic diesel version.

The most interesting was the Stop/Start fuel saving  device, which reminded me of an old Golf Formel E I once drove.  Then there was the excellent bluetooth link for my phone.  It paired very quickly.

I’m not convinced by the cheap 70s Japanese stereo system like centre dash design, nor the blue dials come to that, but generally the interior was fine.  The stalks controlling wipers and indicators were ultra tactile, whilst the polished metal collar on the gear lever was positively sensual.

The seats were nearly as good as those in my Volvo, and certainly better than the Golf estate I had recently.  I suppose the Golf is the real rival here.  In key areas the i30 pips the Golf, kit, comfort, and acceleration. The 1.6 oil burner certainly wasn’t quick, but there was more torque than a base Golf, and more bhp too.

I did find the road noise surprisingly loud, and wasn’t too convinced by the three weighting options for the steering.  Most owners probably couldn’t tell the difference, or care less.

I guess the real crunch on a car like this is MPG.  Here the Golf does better.  I got 49.1 mpg on the read out, but doing the maths this was a true 47 over 248 miles.  The Golf I drove gave me 5 mpg more.

There were too many controls on the steering wheel, and I wasn’t impressed by the 6 buttons on the radio. Add 4 more and it could have become a Volvo like phone key pad.

Could I live with one every day?

Possibly, but whilst the engine sounded refined I just struggle with any car that isn’t quick off the mark.  Perhaps a 3.3 petrol version would be more fun?

Darn, they don’t make one.


Volvo C30 T5 R Design Geartronic

In Travel, Volvo on November 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm
Volvo C30 T5 R Design Geartronic at Westfield - Straford

Volvo C30 T5 R Design Geartronic at Westfield – Stratford

Perhaps the greatest car of all time is the Porsche 911.  What started out as reasonable efficient 2.0 litre sports car, with a lively rear end was gradually developed into an icon.

Ponder this though.  Ford replace the much loved Cortina with the revolutionary Sierra, and it was pretty dismal.  It looked wrong, it alienated die hard Ford fanatics, but did the Blue Oval give up?  Not at all they honed into one of their best ever sellers.

Which brings me to another less well documented “success story”.  The C30. I always liked the looks of the original, but despite it being the slowest depreciating car we ever owned I really never liked our 2007 C30 D5 Geartronic.  The ride was hard, the fuel consumption rather disappointing, and it didn’t communicate with the driver.

So two years after we “got rid of our D5 C30” we’ve now bought a T5 C30.  Why?

Firstly I wanted a comfortable car with an integrated SatNav, and proper Bluetooth phone set up. Secondly I didn’t want a boring diesel, and thirdly I wanted a 500 Abarth.  Darn, the latter despite being great value simply doesn’t come with a good sat nav.

So what’s small and quick and once got good reviews in Evo magazine?  Yup, the updated C30 T5.  It has a new chassis, quicker steering, active headlights and a warbly 230 bhp 5 cylinder soundtrack. It’s very undramatic when you are cruising, almost effortless in fact.

In a week I’ve done a thousand miles, and it’s way better than the early C30s.  The seats are even better than before, still the same shape but now in a lovely leather.  The lights are much better for quick thraps down country lanes, and fuel economy hovers around 27 mpg.  Not bad for a 4 seat hot hatch.

I’ll keep you posted on how we gel.

I’ve now done 2000 miles since buying the T5.  On the whole we’re getting on fine.  I’m sure there’s “stepping” on the tyres, which induces a whole lot of road noise (especially on smooth surfaces), but thankfully once we get over 50 mph you can’t notice it.

Yesterday the car had it’s first M.O.T., and it went through with no problem, which is a relief.

I’s hoped the bendy headlights would be as good as they were on my old 335i cabriolet.  They aren’t, but after driving a Hyundai i30 this week without bi-xenons I now realise they aren’ that bad at all.

nice bum!

The load cover for the boot is neat, but just as frustrating as the loose plastic item on our D5.  Yes it’s prettier and easier to use, but it allows very little access to the load area. I think I’ll just revert to no cover, and a travel rug instead.

One thing that really stands out is the terrific composure through bends, and absence of squat or dive under acceleration or braking.  It’s head and shoulders above our old Sonata in that department.

I’m slowly getting tuned in to the controls, and the phone is loud and clear when I use the bluetooth.

The sound system is good, but if I use the the iPlayer to listen to 6 Music a phone call knocks out the reception, and you can’t be fiddling with re-loading the page at 60mph on a motorway.

Small quibbles really. I’m getting around 27 mpg most of the time, which isn’t too bad.

I think I’ve made a good choice.

MARCH 2013

Now that I’ve had the T5 for a few months I thought I’d an update.

Something that’s really surprised me is just how much the car stand’s out in the crowd.

I’ve never believed a fast car is for plodding.

In fact I’m very happy to use the LOUD pedal, but despite having owned much faster cars this is the first one which has got me into repeated trouble with “The Old Bill”.

These occasions weren’t that bad, nobody threw their toys out the pram and I still possess “the right to roam”, but perhaps a bland silver wouldn’t stick out so much.

Then there’s the tyres.  They don’t seem to be wearing out very quickly even after I’ve done 10,000 pretty hard miles, but the road noise is such that I’m on the verge of replacing all four so that I don’t have to drown out the din with the radio.

Lastly there’s the ride.

Having driven 190 miles in our 2010 BMW 320 today I’m now beginning to appreciate just what a great job Volvo have done with the chassis. Where the BMW crashes and bangs the C30 just absorbs and glides.

Who’d have thought a Volvo would out perform a BMW on the twists and turns of British asphalt?

Not me.

October 2013 – I said goodbye to my Passion Red C30. Having just landed my first “job” in 13 years I couldn’t justify opting out of the company car scheme.

One day the taxman will catch up with me and clobber me for £4000 a year, but this lovely machine cost me over £5000 in depreciation over the same term.

In 5000 miles I haven’t really “enjoyed” my BMW, and this little rocket is sorely missed.