2018 Hyundai i30 N Road Test, Review

i30 N Introduction

Hyundai i30 N is a great package to begin with.

If this handsome stranger comes knocking at your door, grab it with both hands and don’t let go.Looks and well packaged technology combines with a keenly priced range that was gagging for a go-quick halo model. Now we have one, and it is fabulous.

Developed at the infamous Nordschleife Nürburgring, thus the “N” badge, i30 N is a track-focused road hot hatch. Since 1927, the Nürburgring has tortured cars and drivers to destruction. There is nothing more thrilling than tyres screaming for mercy.

i30n eschews the GTi monikers of the other hot-hatchers in their jaunty fake Burberry caps and thick gold chains. Instead, Hyundai, the quiet achiever, has sat in the back row learning, watching, and waiting. They then had a crack at making a halo model and got it just right.


All-LED lighting adds bling to a body with neatly rounded corners, and curvaceous lines.

The distinctive European language to the metalwork is not by accident. Head designer, Peter Schreyer, previously worked for Audi. Thomas Buerkle heads the European design studio and is the man whose hands crafted much of what we now see in i30.

At the Australian launch, Thomas spoke of i30 as if it was his child.

It is understated, until you start that madly cackling engine.

Each and every line, crease, and fold, is intentional. The side profile has a has the faint whiff of Mercedes-A-Class ab out it. Muscular mud guards bulge over the 19” 5 split-spoke alloys shod in Pirelli P-Zeros.

Obligatory touches of sporty red are glimpsed through the wheels giving a slightly angry look. It looks like it could stand on its nose as you stomp on the peddle.

The roof slopes gracefully towards a petite spoiler atop the rear hatch. It gives the impression of just a touch of downforce a track-focused car should have. We know most won’t ever go to a track but it is nice to have if you do.

A small window behind each back door gives the cabin an airy feeling and adds to the rear view. Although rear-view is helped by reversing cameras, the more glass, the airier the cabin.

The hexagonal waterfall grille sits between super-bright LED headlights and running lights, with the lower bumper trimmed in more of the hot-hatch red garnish. It is meant to be a “splitter”, and needs a careful eye when parking nose-in. Sitting 8mm lower than the regular i30, it is a nuisance at shopping centres, but more about that later.

The low bonnet is thanks to the already sporty credentials of all i30’s. Haven’t they done well?

Around the back there is yet more red trim down low, keeping a mean set of raspy twin exhausts company. Horizontal lines stretch the width of the pert rump.

Like all hot hatches, i30 N rolls convenience and handling into a package that goes as quick as it looks.


The cabin beautifully designed.

The dash board uses the  language from the handsome exterior. Strong horizontals are highlighted by quality soft touch materials. However, some of the plastic around the floating centre tablet could be given a bit of polish.

Inside is where you most notice the upgrades the Luxury Pack brings, and I’d be sure to tick that box on the order form.

Seats in the base model adjust with move-em-yaself levers, and have a hex-pattern fabric. The Luxury pack adds sumptuous leather/suede coverings and power/memory adjustment. Leather always adds an extra touch of class. Don’t worry about your bum being cold though, there is heating for crisp winter nights.

You’ll be doing some spirited cornering so deep side cushions aren’t are not purely decorative. They hold you firmly while managing to be feel fairly comfortable even on longer drives.

Driver readouts glow angrily in a fiery red sport mode, and include a centre LCD where menus are fettled and digital speedo is displayed. Settings are split between this, and the 8” tablet at top of the centre stack.

The steering wheel has been festooned with no less than 18 backlit buttons. Your thumbs are always in easy reach of the controls, and comes in particularly handy when changing radio pre-set stations.

Blue “N” buttons control drive modes with the right-hand one having a programmable mode.

i30 N only comes in a 6-speed manual with a short-ish throw on a low-rise gear lever. A centre bin is roomy but gets in the way of changing gears if the seat is set too low. A nifty cubby hole in front of the gears is generous enough to give even the biggest hands access to the power and USB ports. There is also an AUX port for anyone born in the 1800’s. It gains wireless charging in the Lux pack

Dual zone climate controls sit above the cubby space. There a SYNC function so the driver doesn’t have to turn two knobs every time he wants to feel less frosty. The system keeps the ambience just so no matter how hideous things get outside.

Space in the rear is a trifle snug with 4 on board so the peasants in the poor seats will need to be very close mates indeed. There were only a few centimetres between my knees and the driver’s seat. That’s OK for shorter trips. For those who still use maps, there are nets on the rear of the front seat backs.

Luggage space is 381L seats up, and 1287 with the seats paid down. Hyundai have been clever enough to realise a space saver spare tyre allows a deeper floor, but there is a 15cm step into the main cabin. I’m pleased to see Hyundai didn’t throw in a puncture repair kit in lieu of a proper wheel.

A stabilser strut braces the body and straddles the space between the wheel arches. It is one of the few visual cues of “N” modifications. Most of the bracing is in places only your mechanic will ever see.


i30 N has all the goodies that come with the less formidable i30’s, but adds the cool stuff. It’s a shame smart locking and auto wipers aren’t standard in the base car.


  • Performance brake package
  • Electro-mechanical Limited Slip Differential
  • Electronically Controlled Suspension
  • Active Variable Exhaust System
  • Launch Control
  • Rear stiffness bar
  • chassis brace in luggage area
  • Rev matching
  • N race computer
  • N drive mode system

Exterior and technology

  • Full body styling package
  • 19-inch alloy wheels, Pirelli P-Zero HN tyres
  • LED headlights and taillights
  • LED Daytime Running Lamps

Interior and technology

  • 8” touch screen satellite navigation
  • Apple CarPlay™1 and Android™2 Auto
  • compatibility
  • DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth®3 connectivity
  • SUNA™4 live traffic updates
  • Dual zone climate control
  • Alloy pedals
  • Sports front seats
  • Driver’s extendable thigh-support
  • Windscreen auto defog function
  • Power windows
  • Cruise control
  • Automatic dusk sensing headlights
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • 7 airbags

Options: $3,000 Luxury Pack adds:

  • Suede effect/leather seats6
  • Wireless smartphone charging7
  • – Smart key and push button start
  • – 12-way electrically adjusted front seats with driver’s
  • -Integrated Memory System (IMS)
  • – Front park assist system
  • – Rain sensing wipers
  • – Power folding exterior mirrors
  • – Heated front seats
  • – Heated steering wheel
  • – Rear privacy glass
  • – LED courtesy and puddle lights
  • – Solar control windscreen glass
  • – Electro-chromatic interior mirror
  • – Luggage net

Luxury Pack with Panoramic Sunroof an extra $2,000 over Luxury pack

Drive and Engine

Engine and transmission

  • 2.0L turbo GDI four cylinder. Six-speed manual
  • 202kW/353Nm (over-boost 378Nm)

One of my favourite drives is Wisemans Ferry.

There are plenty of twists and turns, punctuated by long, luscious, straights through some of the most picturesque countryside Australia has to offer.

As you descend through the sandstone escarpments, the exhaust spits angrily as the rev-matching blips the throttle just a smidge. If you really want excitement, back off after mashing your foot to the floor for a manic cackle.

In Nana Mode, i30N is as sedate as a Sunday arvo, on a yacht, sipping cocktails. Switching to Sports modes, or the Code Brown “N” mode, makes I30N all angry, and red. The already-firm suspension toughens up. Things get urgent and your senses are assaulted with noise, movement, and action.

On the Wisemans road, the surface has been churned up by dump trucks. After a few K’s, you feel like you’ve been thrown over a cliff with a shedload of bricks, but those corners…..

i30N scampers around like a cat on carpet. A wise driver will leave as much of the traction control on as the “N” allows. It leaves just enough protection to safely envelope the driver, while still making you feel like you’re on a Crazy Mouse.

The big drive mode buttons make switching between drive programmes easy, and because there are no auto transmission paddles, your fingers are free to select whatever gets your juices flowing.

Around town, you can leave it in normal mode.

It gives the throttle enough get up and go without slapping you upside the head at every traffic light. Speed bumps have to be taken with care, and parking nose-in takes all your skills. Do yourself a favour and don’t go around the front to see how close you came to disaster when you stop for that litre of milk at Coles.

Peter Barnwell drove i30N too. Read Barney’s thoughts HERE



Hyundai SmartSense™5 including:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • – Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
  • – Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • – Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
  • Rear view camera with rear park assist system

Rear cameras have made better drivers of us all. Try doing without it once you’ve lived with one for more than a week.

Safety systems on i30 N can be turned on and off as you wish. Lane control is incredibly annoying in those mountain passes but makes highways much less of a trial. It will keep you centred in the lane while the system keeps an eye out for wayward obstacles.

AEB is a requirement for 5 star safety on 2018 tested cars, and i30 N has an entire suite of safety gear.

Good Bits

  • Thoroughly engrossing drive
  • Well thought out cabin
  • Brilliant engine/gearbox

Not So Good Bits

  • Some plastic feels slightly cheap
  • Centre bin too tall
  • No auto wipers, smart entry/start on base model


Hyundai i30 N is an absolute peach.

It will have Focus ST and Golf GTi gagging for an update. It is backed by 5 years of warranty and roadside assist too.

The driving experience is just enough to live with daily, but exciting enough to make you want to drive the half a block to the shops rather than walking. You want to take a cheeky spin to the beach, just because.

You would want the extras the Luxury packs brings though. Leather and Suede, auto wipers, and smart entry take what is a great car, and makes it an excellent one.

Facts and Figures: 2018 Hyundai i30 N

  • Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder turbo petrol producing 202kW/353Nm with
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: Czech Republic
  • Price: from $39,990 (plus on-road costs)

Author: Alan Zurvas

Rating: 9/10