As seen in Issue 280, motoring guru Chris Nixon tests the Hyundai i30 and the legendary return of the Subaru ‘rex’…

Testing: Hyundai i30 SR

The sports version of Hyundai’s award-winning i30 hatchback range is a charmer.

It’s a sharp-looker with good equipment – electric driver’s seat, auto lights and wipers, navigation, ambient interior lighting – and handles with verve on 17 inch tyres and Australian sports suspension.

Its 2.0 litre engine is the most powerful in the i30 range, delivering 0-100 km/h acceleration in 7.7 seconds and impressive refinement.

Rival sports hatchbacks in the Holden Cruze SRi and Nissan Pulsar ST-S are more powerful and cheaper, but less poised.

  • $27,990 plus on-roads
  • 5-door hatch
  • 2.0 litre 4-cyl petrol engine
  • 129kW, 209Nm

For: Driving refinement, well-sorted suspension, good equipment.
Against: Some others offer more power for less cost.
Verdict: Best buy in the i30 hatch range.

Spares ain’t spares

If you’re buying a new car, check if it comes with a spare tyre, or what type it is.

More cars are being sold with temporary-type spares, latex repair kits, no spare at all or “puncture-proof” run-flats in order to save space, weight, fuel and cost.

Fine if you’re drivingbetween Milan and Lake Como, but dangerous if you get a flat out past Cunnamulla. If a spare doesn’t come standard, order it as an optional extra.

‘Rex’ roars back

The latest editions of the legendary Subaru WRX and WRX STi have hit the track with prices almost as hot as the cars’ performance.

At $38,990 the new “Rex” is $1000 cheaper than the superseded model, but the $49,990 STi comes in at a whopping $10,000 less.

Yet both variants improve significantly on the sports sedan that wrote the book on “bang for your buck”.

The 195 kW WRX now offers an eight-step CVT automatic transmission option.

It’s manual-only for the 221 kW STi, but it does have an impressive suite of electronic handling aids, upgraded interior specs and a delete option for the showy rear wing.

Water off a Nissan’s back

The days of cleaning the car could soon be over! Technology we’ve been waiting for since the automobile was invented appears at last just around the corner – Nissan is developing a self-cleaning car.

Hydrophobic (repels water) and oleophobic (repels oil) paint works by creating a protective layer of air between the surface and environment.

Nissan already sells a car with a “wash and blow dry” function on its rear view camera.

Water and compressed air automatically keep the camera lens free of dirt and ensure safety sensors work in all conditions. There’s no getting out of cleaning the interior as yet.