LONG-TERM ROAD TEST: Hyundai i30 SR Premium
Space and flexibility are among the primary reasons Australians have latched onto sports utility vehicles with unbridled enthusiasm.
For those who haven't noticed, the high-riding wagons which fall under the SUV nomenclature are the new black. With the new car industry approaching record sales again this year it's SUVs and 4x4 vehicles driving the growth.
It seems everyone wants to sit one rung above.
Our family swallowed the SUV pill a few years back.
The bride wanted one following a reasonable stint with a VT Commodore wagon. Despite having other buying intentions, I sensibly obliged. Happy wife, happy life.
Despite the better half initially scoffing at the thought, we bought a diesel-powered Kia Sportage which has ably served a growing family.
Yet a two-month stint in the Hyundai i30 SR Premium has shown the SUV has been superfluous to family needs.
Only one occasion were we forced to revert back to the Sportage...the culprit a six-foot surf board unable to fit with two kids in the back. Albeit if the i30 was to become our permanent transport, we'd have roof racks for boards and bikes.
For everything else it's literally carried the load.
Weekly grocery shops are handled by the 395 litre boot, and the seats fold 60-40 if awkward-size gear needs to be hauled.
There are no complaints from the six or 10-year-old about legroom, and most importantly, the bride is loving the mod-cons.
The likes of radar cruise control that maintains a safe distance from the car in front is awesome when in traffic, blind spot warning saves cutting someone off, Apple CarPlay (Android Auto is also standard), leather trim and panoramic sunroof are all ticking the right boxes.
One issue raised has been the smart key, which doesn't automatically open the doors within range. You have to press a button on the door handle. First world problems, I know.
If the i30 became our weapon of choice, the running costs would also be less expensive. While the i30 requires maintenance every 10,000km compared to 15,000km on the SUV, over the same initial five-year period the oil-burner Kia requires $1000 extra in maintenance costs.
While the diesel is supposed to be thriftier, both have delivered about eight litres for every 100km - but a tank size of 50 litres compared to 62 means extra trips to the servo in the Hyundai.
Both run 18-inch tyres, with the i30 having a smaller aspect ratio (tyre wall), so costs are similar there, but the SUV carries about 300kg of extra weight.
Living in a hilly area means it's hard on the brakes, so front pads and rotors need replacement more regularly in the SUV. At more than $600 fitted, the extra weight can cause more regular maintenance and the Kia is approaching its third set in five years.
The i30 SR premium starts from $33,950 plus on-roads, while to again buy the equivalent SUV would be $39,690.