Make: Hyundai
Model: i30
Variant: N
Engine / Transmission: 2.0 litre turbo – 8 Speed DCT
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.5L/100km combined 
Price: From $58,100 on road (as tested)

First Impressions:

We last had a close look at the i30N back in 2020. Two years ago, it was only available as a rather tasty 6 speed manual. About a year later, no doubt when sales continued to lag, Hyundai lamented and introduced a DCT automatic transmission option to the i30N range. This latest mid-life update brings handsome improvements to the nose and tail, lighter wheels, a little more power (the last thing it needs!), more safety (with blind spot assist and cross traffic assist) and more interior tech. 

Tech Inside: 

The 10.25 inch touchscreen display is an improvement, both in size and refinement. Performance settings are easily accessible through either the touchscreen or wheel mounted “N” button. 

The Sounds of Nature function allows you to listen to singing whales or something. It’s stupid. An altogether more satisfying sound can be found by opening up the multi-modal exhaust. It’s silly and immature but so, so much fun – although my neighbours did make a point to complain about it during the test. Oops! 

Importantly, other manufacturers have a lot to learn from Hyundai when it comes to configurability. For example, the i30 allows you to choose the level of exhaust amplification, steering feel, the point of traction control intervention and the assistance given by the e-LSD differential. This is car-tech at its best, allowing enthusiasts to set up their ride just the way they want it. It’s deeply impressive. 

Strangely, the i30 N’s cruise control is an old-skool, non-radar type. Don’t ask me how I worked that out!!! 

Most Impressive:

The most impressive feature of the i30N is Hyundai’s commitment to driver engagement. The power delivery is brutal. The handbrake is a bespoke pull up hydraulic type. The forged wheels are unrecognisable from cheaper alternatives but reduce unsprung weight, improving traction and turn-in. Ultimately, it’s not quite as single minded as, say, Toyota’s GR Yaris, but it’s very, very close. 

Still, no GR Yaris on Earth is as versatile as the i30N. I adore the fact that you can get the same car in three different body styles – the practicality of a hatch, the sharp style of a sedan or the inexplicably rare fastback – my personal favourite. 

Not So Impressive:

… and in my opinion, this is also the i30’s only failing. I’m simply too old, too fat and too grumpy to put up with this cars theatrics day in and day out. The ride is jarring. The noise is tiring. The torque steer at full noise on a bumpy back road is terrifying.

If you are prepared to live with these compromises, the i30N is one of the best hot hatches money can buy. Just remember, something like a Golf GTi can walk the line between performance and comfort with a lot more finesse.  

On a Test Drive:

Make sure you have a good, long test over the sorts of roads you drive on every day. Only then can you be confident with living with the awesome 11 out of 10 character of the i30N.