THE success of the Hyundai i30 is undeniable, its comforts and performance ticking boxes for most small car buyers and giving the Korean brand that kind of widespread acceptance it was seeking in this country as a big-time player.
Now the second-generation i30 which went on sale here in 2012 and updated three years later is now on its way out with a better, brighter model to make its appearance shortly.
In the meantime we get a slight tweak to the SR and SR Premium which sit atop the petrol-powered i30 hatch range, and an offering which asserts a sportier call to action.
There have been small changes to the exterior and interior style with updated equipment too, nothing ground breaking mind you but just a little reminder to whet the appetite for the models to come.
Like red? Well, it does make you go faster. And you can't miss it in the jazzed up interior with the colour playing a starring role in the stitching on the steering wheel, seats and front door armrests with red also adding a touch of bling to the starter button.
That, and the darker grey trim highlights aside, this SR looks pretty much like a regular i30 - no-fuss, well-built and efficient.
Seats are fairly comfortable with improved enhanced side bolsters keeping you nicely cushioned when the going is more robust but the position of the driver's seat itself felt a tad high and that optimal driving position elusive.
There are storage options aplenty including a host of cubby holes and deep door pockets while the boot is more than up to the weekly grocery run or a trip away.
Given this is a small hatch it is no surprise that room in the rear is at a premium but the kiddies fit well enough, the extended toy collection perhaps not so much.
On the road
There are no changes to the lusty 2.0-litre petrol engine but the Hyundai SR and SR Premium benefit from a locally tuned suspension setup, which proves firm but accommodating enough to be comfortable.
This Hyundai makes an excellent city runabout, nimble and easily maneuverable, it is excellent in tight conditions and seems to offer confidence sometimes absent in small cars. It lacks the pulling-power of some turbo-charged rival but is more accomplished from the midrange and once it gets going it doesn't need must persuasion to keep it moving.
You can choose from three steering modes - Normal, Comfort and Sport - not that it makes too much difference except the latter is slightly heavier. Overall, though, the steering misses out on that precise feel with very little in terms of feedback.
The steering mounted paddles are good allowing you to make better use of gears for maximum engagement. I'm not hearing much about sportiness, you may say, and well, that's true.
Hyundai may want the SR and SR Premium to err towards a warm hatch but the truth is that it needs more grunt, sportier handling and more driver involvement for that to be a reality.
What do you get?
Hyundai offerings generally come well equipped and the SR features standard inclusions like dual-zone climate control, auto headlights wipers, 7-inch colour touchscreen with smartphone connectivity as well as rear-view camera and LED daytime running lights.
The SR Premium adds a glass sunroof, heated seats, auto dimming rearview mirror and satellite navigation.
Safety is maximum five stars with seven airbags, ABS with EBD and vehicle stability management system.
Official fuel figures range from 7.3l/100km in the manual to 7.7l/100km for the auto but you can get that down to around 5.5l/100km during longer highway expeditions.
Of course the i30 comes with Hyundai's worry-free five years unlimited kilometre warranty, lifetime service plan and free sat nav updates.
Buyers should also look at the Mazda 3 SP25 ($25,190), Ford Focus Sport ($26,490) and the Holden Cruz SRi Z-Series ($27,140).
Connectivity quickly becomes an important part of a new car's appeal.
And while sat nav should really be available on both models, the Google Now voice control and Apple CarPlay are a definite plus.
We also like the sportier touches to the interior, the space options and the comfort over irregular surfaces.
Exterior changes are almost too subtle to detect.
The sleek swooping lines, which first made a style statement some five years ago, continue to serve the i30 well and 17-inch alloy wheels and chrome trim unique to the SR and SR Premium do their bit to add interest.
Look, this is a good car with good features and inclusions but it is no hot hatch.
It does serve as a nice filler while we await the new Hyundai i30 which is due in Australia early next year and if you want something with a bit more voom there is the 200kW i30 N which will follow shortly after.
Model: Hyundai i30 SR and SR Premium.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive small hatch.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 124kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 210Nm @ 4700rpm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.3 litres/100km combined for manual and 7.7l/100km for auto.
Bottom line plus on roads: from $26,550 (SR) and from $31,250 (SR Premium) .
What matters most
What we liked: Firmish but comfortable ride, good inclusions, steering wheel paddles.
What we'd like to see: More responsive engine, improved driver engagement.
Warranty and Servicing: 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty and lifetime servicing program.
Driving experience 16/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 17/20
Value for money 16/20
Style and design 16/20