Hot hatches are not known for their outright performance, but what they lack in power they more than make up for through driver engagement and downright fun. And like many people, driving is my therapy and I can confirm the Hyundai i30N DCT delivers plenty of smiles per mile.
I recently drove the all-new i30N DCT in both standard and Premium spec with sunroof to get some quality time with this perennial hot hatch favourite. The upgraded engine in the i30 N now produces 206kW and 392Nm – increases of 4kW and 39Nm respectively over the older engine. The 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder features a new turbocharger, intercooler set-up combined with a new ‘flat-power’ ECU tune, among other refinements. Hyundai recommends the use of 95 RON petrol, and the i30N is E10 compatible. The official combined fuel consumption is 8.5L/100km and for my week with the i30N DCT I used 9.7L/100km and in the i30N DCT Premium 9.5L/100km, so an average of 9.6L/100km.
Extra power requires greater braking performance and the i30N comes with 360mm front disc rotors (up from 345mm) with signature red N calipers. The forged, single-piece aluminium wheels that have been developed in-house by Hyundai reduce weight by 14.4kg compared with the original i30 N’s cast alloy wheels.
The eight-speed wet dual-clutch N DCT automatic improves the 0-100km/h time by half a second over the manual i30N, 5.4 seconds compared to 5.9 seconds. While all current i30N models have a maximum speed of 250km/h. Pin the throttle off the line and hold onto the steering wheel as there is some torque steer in the i30N and in the wet tramping from the front tyres. Watch the shift lights on the dash and quickly upshift when the lights flash just before you hit the 6,750rpm red line on the analogue taco, lift off here and there is machine gun fire pops on the overrun. Aggressively downshift until you reach second gear, then the computer steps in and decides when first gear can be selected and repeat until your heart smiles as bright as your beaming face.
‘Manual’ mode in the DCT is activated by tapping the gear selector to the right, giving the driver control of gear changes that encourage aggressive pops and bangs from the exhaust as you pull the wheel-mounted gear selectors. My only complaint from this entire process is I would prefer to have metal gear selectors rather than the plastic steering-wheel mounted gear selectors used on the i30N.
The 2021 i30N also now comes with the aptly named N Grin Control System, which gives the driver a choice of five driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom. In N Custom mode, drivers can select from Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings for individual vehicle systems including Engine, Suspension, Steering, ESC, Exhaust sound, e-LSD and transmission. The selections are made using a cool spider web style graphic that allows the driver to see all of the options on one screen without having to open individual menus. You can also display a G-force meter, performance timer, turbo graph, torque and power graphics on the infotainment screen as well.
Press the chequered flag button on the perfectly proportioned steering wheel and you get instant access to standard N mode or your customised N mode. It should come as no surprise that the suspension was very firm in the N mode, a little less firm in Sport mode and bearable for everyday driving in the Normal driving mode. The exhaust noise is also more socially acceptable when you are driving in Normal mode.
Premium i30N variants come with N Light Sport Bucket Seats, which trim an additional 2.2kg off the kerb weight compared with the standard cloth seats that come on the base i30N DCT. The N Light seats do bring a superior feel to the i30N with leather and Alcantara upholstery, Performance Blue stitching and an illuminated N logo in the integrated headrest. The seats are heated in the Premium i30N, while both variants only have manual seat adjustment for height, recline and forward/back.
There is a lot of plastic in the i30N cabin, but technology is adequate with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging for compatible devices in a cubby at the front of the centre console along with two 12V outlets and one USB port. Voice control is activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the masculine silhouette on it, but like other Hyundai’s the feature only works when Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is connected.
The rear seats have ample head room for adults, but leg room was tight for me. There two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but only enough room for two car seats due to the width of the i30N. The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two rigid cup holders at the front and there is decent drink bottle storage in the door cubbies. Neither the standard or Premium i30N DCT had rear air vents or USB ports.
The boot is manually opened and I thought a decent size for a hot hatch, but if you need extra storage space the rear seats have a 40:60 split folding mechanism. I was thankful that I had a space saver spare tyre because I finally succumbed to Sydney’s pot holes and got my first flat in a press car while driving the i30N.
The Hyundai i30 range comes with a 5-star ANCAP (2017) safety rating, but this does not apply to i30N models. Dual frontal, side chest, side head-protecting airbags (curtains) and a driver knee airbag are standard and the i30N DCT does come standard with some Hyundai SmartSense technologies. These include Lane Following Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist and Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist. The i30N DCT has auto lights, but no auto wipers, standard cruise control and standard reversing camera with rear sensors only. While the Premium i30N DCT gets front sensors as well and auto wipers. One feature I liked was when I changed the lights or wiper settings a display came up on the driver’s dash to tell me what option I had selected.
All new Hyundai models come with Hyundai iCare, with owner benefits including a five-year unlimited km warranty, Complimentary Roadside Assist for 12 months on new vehicles, 1,500km complimentary first service, a dedicated Customer Care centre and myHyundai – an exclusive owner website. The i30 N requires a service every 10,000km or once a year, whichever comes first and upfront service plans can be purchased for three, four or five years costing $1,005, $1,340 and $1,675 respectively. When servicing with Hyundai, customers will also receive a Sat Nav Update Plan and a Roadside Support Plan for up to 10 years.
With more power, faster acceleration and the N Grin Control System the Hyundai i30N DCT delivers a smile-inducing therapy session for lovers of driving. The i30N DCT hatch starts at $47,500 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs and with the optional Dark Knight metallic paint ($495) the i30N tested here was $47,995 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs. The i30N DCT hatch Premium with sunroof is $52,000 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs and it would be my pick of the two cars tested here. Visit you preferred Hyundai dealer on the award winning i30N DCT.
|Quicker acceleration over the manual i30N||No ANCAP safety rating|
|The N Grin Control System and graphics||No rear air vents|
|The N Light Sport Bucket Seats||Plastic wheel-mounted paddle shifters|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.