Variant: N Line Premium
Engine / Transmission: 1.6 litre – 7 Speed automatic
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.2L/100km combined
Price: From $39,463 drive away
The EFTM Garage has seen a number of Hyundai’s come through the B&D over the last few weeks and every time one does I am reminded of just how good they are. It wasn’t all that long ago when Korean cars were both cheap and nasty.
Not only have the products from Korea’s big two, Hyundai and Kia, been the equal of the best from Japan for many years now, importantly for both brands, I am getting a sense of a celebration of ‘Korea’ in their product.
This confidence and self identity hasn’t gone anywhere near far enough yet, but I really appreciate at least a touch of this ‘celebration’ in the i30 N Line Premium.
Toyota’s Corolla is lazy. It doesn’t need to work hard to capture sales. It could be an utter dog (it’s not, by the way) and it would still sell millions. Volkswagen’s Golf works flawlessly, but it is about as fun as Angela Merkel at a buck’s party (nevertheless, that is exactly where I parked my own hard earned and is still my ‘go-to recommendation’).
The i30 is different. The subtle blend of tech, touches of sporty and a recognition of traditional hatchback strengths is a really compelling combination.
Korea is a haven for tech heads and even has the world’s fastest internet, but as with most of the range, Hyundai continues to ‘hide’ the i30’s tech behind traditional buttons, knobs and switches.
It just works and I am so pleased that they have the confidence to resist endless touch screen displays that simply don’t work away from the billiard table smoothness of the dealership forecourt.
Everything that you would expect to be included in what is quite an expensive small hatch is: Hyundai’s ‘SmartSense’, including autonomous braking, forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane change alert, stop-start active cruise control, wireless charging, full length sunroof, heated and cooled leather trimmed seats, Infinity branded premium stereo and LED headlights and taillights.
A blessing continues to be Hyundai’s resistance to follow the stop-start engine system trend. Outside of a lab or very congested city streets with long delays, it adds to mechanical wear, increases the noise and vibration being transmitted to the cabin and just doesn’t work.
A less confident company would have adorned the N Line Premium with garish bright red seat belts, wings and a harsh riding suspension tune. Instead, the N Line is fitted with a very subtle body kit, controlled but compliant suspension and classy plum red seat belts and stitching highlights – the result of which is far less ‘Red Devils’ and far more traditional Korean ceremonial robe.
The N Line Premium represents what I think is the sweet spot in the i30 range. It’s not cheap, but it doesn’t need to be. It is the equal of any of the Japanese offerings for build quality, with the exception of Lexus, and it betters the Golf Highline on equipment, but is perhaps a step or two behind in chassis sophistication.
There are no two ways about it; the i30 N Line Premium is a great car.
Not So Impressive:
Ultimately for Hyundai, the real competition to the i30 N Line Premium comes from within its own stable. For just $5k more, the i30N packs most of the equipment with a whole lot more punch. I mean A WHOLE LOT MORE!
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Make sure you give the i30N a blast before you sign on the dotted line for the i30 N Line Premium. The N Line is a much more balanced package, but it feels a little undercooked next to its wilder brother.