2018 Hyundai i30 n review practical motoring

The i30 N kicks off from $39,990+ORC and is only available in one specification; our cars here are equivalent to the ‘Performance Package’ you might have heard about on OS i30 Ns. That said, there are two packages available for the i30 N and they are the Luxury Pack which adds things like leather seats, push button start, wireless charging and more ($3000) and the Luxury Pack with Sunroof ($5000).

In standard trim, the i30 N is well equipped with an infotainment system offering native sat-nav and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera with rear parking sensors (front sensors are added as part of the Luxury Pack), space saver spare and Hyundai’s active safety suite, called SmartSense which includes forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking and driver attention alert.

It’s worth noting that while the i30 N is a global car, meaning it was designed to work well across all the markets it’s sold in, Hyundai Australia’s clout is such that its engineers were allowed to fiddle with the formula and tweak the thing to suit our roads. No other country was allowed to do that. What’s the interior like and how practical is it?

Let’s start with the back seat because it’s here you’ll notice the main difference between the i30 N and the garden variety i30. See, the front seats are a little bulkier and so you don’t get quite as much rear seat legroom as you do in, say, the i30 SR. And you don’t get things like directional rear air vents or charging outlets but, don’t panic, because there are air vents under the front seats for piping hot or cold air into the back.

Despite having a little less legroom there’s still more than enough for two adults to sit comfortably in the back (there’s good headroom – our test car didn’t have the cost optional sunroof which would rob some headroom), and fitting a child seat is a cinch. There are top tether anchors for all three positions and ISOFIX on the two outboard seats. While the two outboard seats are well shaped and comfortable the middle seat is more of a perch, but it’s broad and flat enough that an adult could sit in that spot for shorter journeys if required.

Move into the front and the cloth covered seats are nice and grippy, holding you in all the right places but without making getting in and out of the thing a chore. And, if you’ve got longer legs like me then you’ll love the fact you can extend the seat base for extra under-thigh support. From the front seat, there’s good vision right around the car.

The boot offers 381 litres of storage and expands to 1287 litres if you fold down the 60:40 split fold rear seats. Be warned, though, doing this will give you a little more room but there’s a significant step up from the boot to the folded down seats and the removable brace will make through-loading a little awkward. There’s a space saver spare beneath the floor.

The dashboard mirrors the standard i30, meaning you get a well-designed dashboard with controls that are easy to understand and use on the fly. My one gripe with the interior is that not enough is made of the fact this is the hot shoe model, meaning the interior, despite the odd scattering of N lettering and the alloy pedals is a bit plain. But, maybe it’s a case of walking quietly and carrying a big stick…

The infotainment is the same as that used in the regular i30 with one key difference and that is the N button. Pressing this on the Home screen allows you to deep dive into the different drive modes, there are five different drive modes and while we recommend leaving the thing in Normal is probably the best way forward but if you do want to play with the N function, be warned because there are about 1944 different settings from steering weight, to the differential, exhaust note and more besides.

The i30 N runs a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 202kW at 6000rpm and 353Nm of torque from 1750-4700rpm with an overboost function that sees torque bump to 378Nm across the same rev range for about 18 seconds. Even with the exhaust note turned to Sport+ the start-up process is tame, in my opinion…unless, ahem, you’re standing next to the thing.

Turn the key and the i30 N snorts into life before falling back to a subdued growl. Personally, I’d like a little more of the exhaust note to filter inside the cabin. Indeed, with the music playing, even if you’re really going for it, the bark and roar, on the inside, will be a distant growl only. Drop the windows, though, and there’s plenty of popping and crackling as you duck and dive through corners.

The i30 N has plenty of aggro but go for a drive and the thing won’t try and snap your neck off. It doesn’t need to. The engineers have dialled back the throttle calibration so that it doesn’t constantly feel like its straining at the leash and, with peak torque arriving at 1750rpm and hanging around until 4700rpm, it doesn’t need to know.

Don’t misread me, the thing feels properly muscular no matter what gear you’re in and that’s down to that wide band of torque. But it’s also what makes the i30 N such an easy car to drive. It’ll tootle around town lazily and happily and then when you’re out of town and have given its head it’ll rip and tear at the road like a nutcase. What’s it like on the road?

It’s muscular everywhere but it’s got good table manners, if you know what I mean. Out of town it steps it up a notch. But unlike a lot of hot hatches that try and scare the bejeezus out of you when you start pushing them the i30 N takes you along for the ride, ironing out any of your hamfistedness, but giving you more than enough of a thrill to leave you grinning like a fool after a run along a twisting back road.

Tip the thing into a corner and the body stays flat and you can absolutely feel the suspension doing its thing to keep the tyres pressed into the road. And, oh my, the grip. There’s almost no thump through into the cabin and despite the steering being totally unaffected by even the very worst roads or mid-corner thumps, there’s a directness and weight to the wheel that impresses.

The thing that really gets you about the i30 N is that even when you think you’re travelling fast enough, you’re not and that’s the mark of a good performance car; that it’s always got something in reserve even when you don’t. One section of our road loop is as rough as guts and the i30 N soaked it up in a way I just wouldn’t have expected and not just for a hot hatch… even air sprung vehicles don’t ride as well across some surfaces as this thing.

This thing would be a hoot on a track but I didn’t get to test it on one and, to be honest, nor will the majority of owners. And that’s fine because this thing will deliver all the thrills on the road but the N mode will probably be overkill. Hitting the chequred flag button tightens things up, sure, but as our Dave Morley wrote in his launch report (and he did get to drive it on a track) N Mode, on the road, doesn’t give enough or make the thing noticeably quicker or more feelsome through corners than if it was left in Normal. A second press of the flag gets you into the ‘custom’ section with it 1944 variables. What’s it like to park?

Okay, not everyone will be super concerned about parking the i30 N (it could be a pain to park and it wouldn’t be a deal breaker), being based on the regular i30 means it’s a small car with a good turning circle (11.6m) so parking is a cinch. The reversing camera offers a good field of view and dynamic lines but the picture quality could be better. There are reversing sensors and the Luxury Pack adds front sensors which would make nosing it in to a parking spot a little easier.

We’ve already covered off the pricing and the two extra-cost option packs for the i30 N. Metallic paint costs $495. Like the rest of the range, the i30 N gets a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty which covers track use as long as its non-competition and also the fitment of track tyres (none of its competitors offer warranty cover like this) and is offered with up to five-years capped price servicing. There are several plans, from three years ($897), four years ($1296) and five years ($1595). What safety features does it get?

The i30 N gets Hyundai’s SmartSense suite which includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist and driver attention alert. As mentioned, there’s a reversing camera with sensors but no rear cross-traffic alert or reverse braking, seven airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, hill-start assist, central locking, engine immobiliser and an alarm.