Home  »  Car Racing  »  Features

13 Reasons to love the Hyundai i30N

Submitted by on September 24, 2018

We just spent a week with the Hyundai i30N and we loved it.

Make no mistake, the Hyundai i30N is a true drivers machine. Hyundai’s first foray into the 40 years old “hot hatch” category will go down as a classic in it’s own right.

In short, it nails the formula. It has a fabulously smooth, revvy and powerful engine, precise steering with good feel, along with great brakes. It also sports a slick six speed gearbox and it produces a great exhaust note that makes all the right noises. It really is a rewarding drive that puts a smile on your face.

Fabulous Engine

Torquey, linear and smooth, the i30 N’s 2.0-litre four cylinder, all aluminium power plant features direct injection, variable valve timing and twin-scroll turbocharging to produce 202kW and 353Nm. However forget the numbers, what you need to know is that it’s a great motor, that likes to rev, has no hint of lag and is powerful enough to provide genuine excitement.

Driving Modes

When manufacturers get this right the Drive Mode feature can really transform a car from good to great.

The i30N has five individual drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N or N Custom settings, activated by two dedicated buttons on the steering wheel. Really though, you only need two modes. Normal and N Custom!

In Normal the car is a smooth and relaxed suburban cruiser. However once you hit the “chequered flag” button on the steering wheel to engage “N Custom mode”, the little Hyundai is transformed into a smoking hot hatch sensation.

All the individual parameters of engine mapping, damper firmness, steering weight, e-LSD characteristics, stability control and exhaust sound level can be individually selected and saved in the N Custom mode. For example you can select the clever rev-matching system to smooth out gearshifts or turn it off to heel and toe yourself.

The dash is really simple to operate and made setting up the Hyundai for maximum fun as simple as pushing a single button.

Snap, Crackle, Pop

The i30N’s most smile inducing feature is the exhaust note. Set it to N mode and enjoy a symphony of pops and crackles. We took the long way home just so we could accelerate and back off in a tunnel. It makes you laugh. We promise.

F1 style shift lights

It’s so much fun to have both a tacho and a shift light.

The i30N features a row of shift lights high in the dash that progressively illuminate before flashing just shy of redline, allowing you F1 style shift timing without having to glance at the tacho.

The gearshifts themselves are easy to nail given the well-defined gate, nicely placed shifter and slick carbon synchros internals.

It Loves Corners

Great steering wheel, good steering weight, goes where you want it to go. Understeers a bit when REALLY pushed, but you could also make it oversteer. What a hoot!

The i30N sports a super playful chassis that rewards attack. Wind on the power, let the e-diff sort things out and go.

The combination of active dampers, a built in rear strut brace and Pirelli P-Zero’s riding on 19″wheels make for a seriously fast and sporting drive.

Good Looks

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but personally I really like the i30 Ns lines and I’m also a fan of the Performance Blue colour our test model came with.

Designed in house with a team led by Albert Berman the former head of BMW’s M division, the N sports some fabulous details along with quite muscular proportions.

There are some neat aesthetic details inside and outside the car, such as the red pinstripes on the front and rear lower spoilers and matching red calipers.

Good Seats, Wheel and Ergos

Another key to a good car of any description are the seats and basic ergonomics.

The i30N’s seats are comfortable, supportive and given the car we tested featured 12 way adjustable electric seats we found it easy to get comfortable. The gear lever is in the right spot and looks and feels reminiscent of the original VW Golf GTi gear knob of the 1970s. The steering wheel has telescopic and height adjustment is of a nice size and shape with the leather offering good grip and feel.

Ease Of Use & Connectivity

I don’t drive a modern car, so some infotainment systems shit me because they are just not intuitive. Not this one.

The i30N’s 4.2-inch digital display in an easy to operate infotainment screen that seamlessly combines trip, music and navigation options along with allowing live performance readouts from the “N race computer” when you are on N mode

Did I mention it has Apple Car play?

Everything just worked. The tunes, the mapping, everything and I didn’t need to consult the instruction manual to get the most out of it.

Great Brake Performance

There’s plenty of feedback, good feel and powerful bite through the i30Ns brake pedal.

We drove the car as hard we could and the little beast never showed a hint of fade or overheating.

You could dive deep, trail brake and generally stop with confidence. The tyres held up very well too.

Track Warranty

Hats off to Hyundai for having the confidence to back their little N weapon with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty that remarkably includes track use, though competitive events are not covered.

For reference Porsche covers only the 911 GT2 RS for track use. Most other manufacturers will consider  your warranty void if it thinks your warranty claim is related to tracking your car.

Hyundai makes no such stipulation. And no wonder they are confident. It’s feel like a very durable car.

Race and Rally Proven Badge

Hyundai’s relatively short race and rallying pedigree is paying big dividends with the release of the first road going N model.

Hyundai’s has been competing in the World Rally Championship since 2000, and rallying with the i20N since 2013 which has now developed into a WRC rally winning car.

Hyundai is also now selling turn-key i30N racing cars for the TCR touring car series.

They say racing and rallying improves the breed and its certainly true for the i30N, which sports a bit of the wonderful competition cars DNA.

The “Lever of Fever”

My late colleague Henry Hope-Frost described a mechanical handbrake as the “lever of fever”. It was his was of explaining the added thrills a handbrake lever could potentially provide to a driver. He believed all good cars should have them. I agree with him.

Ignoring the fact that a powerful front wheel drive car with a good handbrake lever is a great recipe for rally inspired thrills, they just make sense.

Durability and Value

Equally impressive as the i30N’s actual on track speed is the i30 N’s durability. Despite being driven hard for multiple laps, by me along with a range of other drivers on our track day experience the i30N never missed a beat. The temperature gauge didn’t move, the brakes didn’t overheat, in fact the N was begging for more.

And all this from $39,990 plus on-road costs!

Thanks to Hyundai Australia for the chance to test the car.

Words: Rich Fowler

Images: MotorsportRetro.com, Hyundai.com.au, TheMotorReport.com.au, Whichcar.com.au

Don't miss out! Our best stories, direct to your inbox!


Sign up now - it's free, weekly, and spam-free.