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Hyundai’s new generation i30 SR has gone straight to the top, convincingly taking out the hotly contested Small Car class in Drive’s prestigious 2017 Car of the Year awards.

The model beat out finalists including the Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Trendline, the Ford Focus Trend, and the Subaru Impreza 2.0i-L.

After a solid week of testing against its peer group, Hyundai’s best-selling car came up trumps, showing off its refined dynamics, lively engine and new technology by beating the best from Europe and Japan.

The six-strong judging panel, comprising Drive’s editorial and road test team, put more than 50 cars through their paces at Wakefield Park Raceway to determine the class winners.

Judges used the raceway to compare handling, vehicle dynamics, ride quality and braking ability, before embarking on an extensive road drive programme to assess each car thoroughly in urban, rural and highway driving environments.

“Our finalists are the best of the best in their respective classes and the small car class is very competitive,” said Drive editor Andrew Maclean. “Hyundai i30 represents great value-for-money in that class and i30 SR is a genuine pocket rocket.”

“Its 150kW, 265Nm, turbocharged 1.6-litre engine delivers real hot hatch performance in a sub-$30,000 car. It has fantastic dynamics and the local chassis tuning stands it apart from everything else in its class.”

Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, JW Lee, said “i30 SR’s win in the Drive Car of the Year awards just six months after its launch here is a great result.”

“Our confidence in the new, third-generation i30 range has been bolstered by this win in one of Australia’s most prestigious Car of the Year competitions,” said Mr Lee.

“The i30 offers a comprehensive suite of technology across the range and its beautiful design – coupled with outstanding chassis dynamics and real value for money – makes our affordable premium small car a winner with Aussie customers as well,” he added.

The numbers that matter (Source: Drive)

  • 5 years, unlimited kilometres – Hyundai’s warranty outstrips rivals’ three-year guarantees.
  • 7.5 seconds – The i30 SR is easily the quickest small car finalist to 100km/h.
  • 395 litres – It also has the biggest boot.

Verbatim: “The i30 looks like a premium small car – it comes across as having that layer of polish on it” – Stephen Ottley

What we liked: Punchy engine, sports car interior, mega warranty

What we didn’t: Not cheap, firm ride on 18-inch wheels, automatic quirks

Price: From $28,950 plus on-road costs

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol

Power: 150kW at 6000rpm

Torque: 265Nm at 1500-4500rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel-drive

Fuel use: 7.5L/100km