Review: Hyundai i30 N Performance

Introduction

The i30 N is Hyundai’s first attempt to compete in the hot hatch market. With the newly established N Performance division (born in Namyang, honed Nürburgring), headed by Albert Biermann (ex BMW M boss), Hyundai is investing a lot of money, talent and effort in creating exciting high performance derivatives of its models.

The C-Segment hot hatch from Korea is fitted with a 2.0 liter Turbo-GDi engine producing 202 kw / 275 hp and 353 Nm of torque (up to 378 Nm in overboost) in its range topping version, mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox. It can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6,1 seconds while top speed is 250 km/h. Other features include Electronic Controlled Suspension (active dumpers with continuous adjustment), electronically-controlled mechanical limited slip differential (E-LSD), more powerful braking system, 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero high-performance tyres and Variable Exhaust Valve System.

Since its launch in 2017, the i30 N has received favorable reviews from the press, proving that the guys at the N Performance team know how to set up a competitive hot hatch against the likes of VW Golf GTI, Peugeot 308 GTi and Renault Megane RS which are its direct competitors.


Exterior Design

The i30 N is based on the third generation i30 that was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, designed by Peter Schreyer. The N specific bodykit that improves the looks and the aerodynamics of the car, includes deeper front bumper with larger air intakes, side skirts, more aggressive rear bumper, dual exhaust pipes and a roof spoiler finished in black with a triangular third brake light. The car also comes with LED headlights with black bezels, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights with beautiful graphics.

Overall, the i30 N has a strong road presence, especially with the light blue color that has an exotic flair combined with the 19 inch alloy wheels finished in black with silver details, the red calipers and the red stripes on the front and rear bumpers. Some people find it subtle for a hot hatchback but in my opinion, Hyundai designers did a great job in creating a balanced but still desirable look for a broader audience than some of its rivals.



Interior / Equipment

The interior of the i30 N doesn’t differ much from the base model but offers rich equipment and a few unique touches. The sporty seats upholstered in cloth or suede-effect leather (heated and electronically adjustable with memory function) are comfortable and do provide more support however they could be a little bit more tight. The heated perforated leather steering wheel with N specific buttons is a very nice touch, complimented by the N gear knob, the sporty instrument cluster and the aluminium pedals. The only complain has to do with the non premium feel of the hard plastic materials on the dashboard that could be more appealing to the touch.

The 8 inch touch screen of the infotainment system is easy to use and offers all the connectivity options you would expect from a modern car (Bluetooth / DAB+ / Aux in / USB / Navigation / Android Auto and Apple Carplay support). Additionally, the N specific screen allows driver and passengers to monitor things like the oil and boost pressure, acceleration forces, lap times etc, proving that this car is not your typical C-Segment hatchback.

The cabin is spacious with a large glovebox, handy storage areas between the front passengers, wireless smartphone charging space with USB and two 12-volt sockets, as well as a total of 4 cup holders and large door bins. At the back there is enough room to comfortably fit 2 large-sized individuals, as the middle seat is narrow and could only be acceptable for short distance use. Knee room is great and head room is about average for the segment. Cargo space has a volume of 381 liters (slightly smaller than the stock model because of the stiffness bar that can be removed) but the seats can be easily folded down if there is need for more room.

Lastly, we have to mention the safety equipment of the car that includes seven airbags and the SmartSense pack of driver assistance systems with forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert and lane keeping assist that provides steering intervention to keep you centered in the lane. The only thing that is missing from the list is an active cruise control function that unfortunately isn’t offered as an option.



Driving Experience

From the moment you start driving the i30 N you instantly feel the great capabilities of the chassis and the excellent suspension setup. But let’s start with the car’s behavior in everyday driving situations before we proceed to the really interesting part.

By pressing the left button on the steering wheel, the driver has access to three driving modes – Normal, Sport and Eco – which change the character of the i30 N prioritizing comfort, sportiness or fuel economy. Ride feels a bit harsher than the regular i30 (even on the Normal mode), however it offers acceptable levels of comfort in everyday driving situations – thanks to the Australian specific suspension setup from the local Hyundai N Performance team. In Normal or Eco modes, the steering wheel is light and even though the lack of feedback can be annoying, it is definitely more suitable for parking and low speed maneuvering inside the city.

And now let’s move on to the “hot hatch” part. The chequered flag button on the right side of the steering wheel, gives you gain access to both the N mode and the N Custom mode. In the N mode, the car goes through an instant transformation from a fast hatchback to hot hatchback that always feels ready to attack the road. The exhaust note becomes significantly more aggressive and together with the nicely weighted steering (rack-mounted electric power steering), the faster response from the engine, the noticeably stiffer suspension and the more intense rev matching function (that can be switched off) awaken the car enthusiast in you. The manual 6-speed gearbox and the well balanced clutch pedal allow a closer connection between the driver and the car (a new 8 speed DCT gearbox will be available in 2019). The 2.0 liter engine provides all the power you would ever need for road use, delivering it in a linear way. When revving or accelerating, the exhaust delivers loud pops and crackles that together with the sound of the turbocharger make you want to drive with the windows down (exhaust sound is also electronically enhanced in N mode, however the real thing is good enough).

Thanks to the fantastic electronically-controlled mechanical limited slip differential (E-LSD) that distributes torque between the front wheels, you can escape corners flat-out without any noticeable understeer. The 235/35 R19 Pirelli P-Zero tires provide huge levels of grip, supported by the continuously variable suspension and the E-LSD that also hide the car’s generous weight of 1429 kg. There is also minimum torque steer, even though we are talking about a FWD hot hatch with 202 kw / 275 hp of power, and only under very hard straight line acceleration you will witness controllable front wheel spin. Finally, the brakes are very powerful and extremely durable, showing no sign of decline in their performance, as their limits can’t be possibly discovered in road use.

Finally, for those who want to customize the car’s settings based on their preferences, there is the N Custom mode that allows you to independently change each part of the car – for example you can keep everything in N mode and put the suspension in Normal mode so you can enjoy a more comfortable ride while hearing the sensational sound of the exhaust.

The best thing with the i30 N is how friendly, safe and manageable it feels to the driver. This car loves corners and even though it is very capable in city or highway driving, you keep feeling that you are wasting your time when you are not pushing it hard on a twisty road in the countryside.


Pricing / Warranty (Australia)

Base price (before on road costs): $39,990
Metallic / Mica Paint: $495
Luxury Pack: $3,000
Luxury Pack with Panoramic Sunroof: $5,000

Drive Away Price: $44,065$47,673

Hyundai iCare includes a 5 year unlimited km warranty, covering track use in non-competition events, lifetime servicing plan, 10 years of roadside support when serviced at a Hyundai dealer and 10 years of complimentary satellite navigation updates.


Verdict

The Hyundai i30 N is a great hot hatch overall, offering an exciting driving experience for all kinds of drivers, combined with aggressive styling and practicality. It is a fully equipped and well engineered car with competitive pricing and impressive performance specifications.

Hot Hatch Rating: 8,5/10


 


Detailed Specifications

ModelHyundai i30 N Performance
Production2017-present
SegmentC
Doors5
LayoutFWD
Engine Displacement1998 cm3
CylindersL4
InductionTurbocharged
FuelGasoline
Fuel SystemDirect Injection
Power (hp)275 hp
Power (kw)202 kw
Power (@rpm)@6000 rpm
Torque (Nm)353  Nm (378 Nm in overboost)
Torque (@rpm)@1450 rpm
0-100km/h6,1 sec
Top Speed (km/h)250 km/h
Top Speed (mph)155 mph
Fuel Consumption7,0 lt/100km
CO2 (g/km)163 g/km
Gearbox6 MT
Weight1429 kg
Length4335 mm
Width1795 mm
Height1447 mm
Wheelbase2650 mm
Front Track1557 mm
Rear Track1565 mm
Boot Space381 liters
Tire Size235/35 R19
Front Brakes345 mm Ventilated Discs
Rear Brakes314 mm Ventilated Discs