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Hyundai i30 CW LPGTECH - car in the back seat
It’s not the brand new Hyundai i30 CW (only 5600 km on the clock so far) that serves as the main point of our interest here, but the TECH gas system installed in this car, designed and manufactured by LPGTECH from Białystok, Poland. Why is the car of secondary importance here? Well, simply because we had access to it thanks to the gas system manufacturer, not the car manufacturer, and besides, the TECH 224 controller with the whole kit could as well be used in a totally different car.
So let’s start by clearing up why LPGTECH chose this compact Hyundai in the first place. Not more than a few years ago hardly anyone treated cars manufactured by the Korean company as anything more than a cheaper and lower-quality alternative to the models of European brands. This has changed. Today, Hyundais and Kias compete with Fords and Volkswagens as equals, and the commercial success of the i30 seems to confirm that the manufacturers of Focus, Golf and Astra should change their attitude and start showing some respect for their Asian rival.
In Poland, the i30 is popular among fleet operators, which makes it a good test car. And it's quite a looker for a representative of the most popular class of cars on the European market, so it draws the attention of potential TECH system customers – fleet managers. And why exactly does it draw this attention so successfully?
To answer this question we must take a look at our test car, or rather than looking at it, we should look into the car and its gas system, as the most important features are not to be seen with the naked eye or even through a looking glass. But there’s something that makes this LPGTECH system special “at first sight”.
It’s the LPG filler that is usually placed low in the bumper (even in many cars with factory-fitted or dedicated systems), but here it is located under the petrol flap cap. This solution is much more convenient due to the autogas refueling self-service that has been allowed lately here in Poland, especially that the manufacturer from Białystok managed to place the adapter to the LPG valve permanently and you don’t have to screw it in and out every time. It’s true that sometimes you’ll have to remove it because it partially obscures the petrol filler, but we still think that it’s easier to remove it from time to time (after all, you fill up with LPG much more often than with petrol) than to screw it in each time you refill you car.
LPGTECH chose an i30 with a 1,6 liter, 135 PS unit for the tests. A compact car doesn’t really need more, so it’s lively regardless of the type of fuel used, and the consumption rate is quite decent, but we’ll write about that later on.
The engine’s one thing, the power’s another, but the thing that’s even more important is that the version of i30 adapted by LPGTECH does not use petrol (from the moment the engine is warmed-up and switches to gas fuel, that is). Based on our experience with cars with factory-fitted systems, we got used to the fact that petrol is often used as lubricator under load. This may be overly precautionary measure on the part of manufacturers or importers, so the company from Białystok decided not to add petrol and “feeds” the engine with autogas only. But LPGTECH engineers do not have concerns about premature wear of valve seats or valves. If the test results and observations prove consistent with the expectations of technicians, the company from Białystok will start more serious conversations with Hyundai Poland regarding future cooperation.
Hyundai was not equipped with a valve saver kit because we’re conducting tests on the car’s behavior without additional protection of valves and their seats. These tests are supported by the fact that the exhaust gas temperature at the proper calibration of the blend composition (AFR identical to the petrol supply) is comparable on LPG or even lower.
Mateusz Miastkowski, head of technical support
Just like we usually do during our tests, we checked the car on a chassis dynamometer. During a virtual drive on petrol, the engine did a better job than promised by the manufacturer – 137 PS instead of 135. It was 9 less with LPG (128 PS). Torque was similarly lower (down from 160 to 151 Nm). A lot or not really? It seems a lot, but considering the initial power, the loss of 6% of the driving force is not that noticeable. What’s more important is that power and torque curves run in parallel when we drive on petrol and gas, which means the engine characteristics are similar.
Let’s focus on the advantages and unique features of the TECH system. Switching from petrol to LPG is quite fast after start-up (the warmer the engine, the faster it is – sometimes even straight after starting the car), and the buzzer and the LED located on the switch inform us (with a sequence of sounds and gradual lightening) about enabling LPG injectors, one by one. When the engine is warmed up, the whole procedure starts right after you turn the key in the ignition and takes not more than 1,5 seconds. The first switchover in the morning takes a bit longer – the engine starts on petrol (for about 1 km), and the time gaps between activations of consecutive LPG injectors are a bit longer, but the whole switchover process (after warming-up, between starting the first and the last injector) lasts no more than 5-6 seconds.
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