New Hyundai i30 sedan 2020: Why the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla should be worried

With the Hyundai i30 sedan launching locally later this year, the Korea carmaker will have the most comprehensive small car-range in Australia.

The news this week that Hyundai Australia has decided to drop the Elantra name for its four-door small car and instead call it the i30 sedan may seem like a small change on the surface, but has potentially significant implications.

One of the biggest changes with the new moniker is that it will help the i30 on the sales charts. At present, despite the fact the i30 and Elantra are as similar as the Toyota Corolla hatch and sedan, they are counted as two separate vehicles because they have different names. Combining them in 2019 would have made the ‘i30’ the biggest-selling small car – 31,022 compared to the Corolla’s 30,468.

Look slightly further back, to when the i30 and Elantra were fresher, and in 2016 the combined sales of i30 and Elantra would have elevated it to the top spot in the sales charts – the biggest selling new vehicle in the country.

Car companies like to play down the significance of being number one on the charts, but there is no doubt Hyundai would love to see the new i30 family knock-off the Toyota HiLux.

“The cars (i30 hatch and sedan) are essentially the same underneath, with similar dimensions and specifications,” said a Hyundai Australia spokesperson. “Some of our key competitors have the same names for their hatch and sedan body styles in this segment so it makes good sense to align them in this market.

“Australia is one of the only right-hand-drive markets for the car globally, and one of the only markets selling the sedan and hatch body styles together. So, it makes sense to align the naming of the sedan and top-selling hatch under the popular i30 banner.”

The other big implication of the name change is how it will broaden the appeal of the i30 range. As stated at the beginning, no other small car nameplate will be able to match the breadth of the i30 line-up because it will consist of:

  • Hatch and sedan body styles
  • The $19,990 (plus on-roads) i30 Go for value-conscious buyers
  • A range of options across all variants with the Active, Elite and N Line trims
  • The i30 N hot hatch plus the i30 Fastback N five-door liftback performance halos
  • And the likely addition of a hybrid option in the near-future

To have a sub-$20k offering is becoming increasingly rare in the small car space with the Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf all missing that entry-level variant. While not as profitable as the more expensive versions, it does add volume and buyers into the Hyundai brand.

The variety of i30 models across the middle of the range also helps its appeal to a wide audience with a variety of price points.

Plus, the success of the i30 N and Fastback N adds another element to the i30’s appeal – something neither the Corolla and Mazda3 can compete with yet.

Importantly, the updated i30 N will not only bring more power but should also introduce the long-awaited automatic option, which should significantly expand its sales appeal.

Utes and SUVs may be extremely popular but one look at the sales charts underlines the ongoing strength of small cars in Australia and Hyundai’s i30 looks set to expand its appeal.