Review: Hyundai i30 N (2018)
A real revelation of a hot hatch. Superb handling. Impressive performance. Seriously quick. Really good fun to drive. Undercuts most rivals on price. Traditional handbrake, not an electrical switch.
Performance Pack is impressive but costs an extra £3000. Very low profile tyres cannot absorb poor road surfaces.
Hyundai i30 N (2018): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 82% of the official MPG figure
Since the mid 2000s, Hyundai has undergone a huge transformation, with the brand producing ever improved and better quality cars. It's a remarkable success story for a manufacturer that not that long ago was knocking out the best-left-forgotten Sonata...
And now Hyundai is turning its hand to performance cars. Well, a hot hatch to be precise. It's taken the worthy if rather drab i30 hatchback and made it the first N car. The Hyundai equivalent of GTI or ST.
Not that this is Hyundai's first foray into 'sporty' cars. It launched the much underrated Veloster in 2012, but it only lasted three years on sale in the UK. However, the i30 N is more focussed on the performance element.
Hence why it's powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine - the standard version has 250PS but the Performance version with 275PS is the one to go for. Both have the same peak torque of 353Nm, however the Performance Package means it keeps on producing it 500rpm further up the rev range, from 1450 to 4500rpm.
Picking the Performance Package also adds larger 19-inch wheels wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero tyres, in place of the standard 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sports. There’s also an electronic differential designed to improve control in corners. The downside? It costs an extra £3000 but at £28k that's still not bad value compared to a Focus ST-3 which is priced around the same.
Hyundai may never have designed a hot hatch, but it's got everything right with the i30 N. This thing is an absolute revelation. It's hugely enjoyable to drive, has all the performance you need and handles superbly. It even rides well.
And while this is a genuinely superb hot hatch, it's still an i30, so that means a well built and practical car that also comes with a five-year warranty. Plus being a Hyundai, the chances of anything going wrong are slim.
The Hyundai i30 N really is a proper hot hatch. It doesn’t feel like a half-measure or a case of "almost but-not-quite". Perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay it is that once behind the wheel, you forget you're in an i30. Instead this is a great hot hatch in its own right.
And why N? According to Hyundai, the N brand was created at its R&D centre in Namyang. And then honed at the Nürburgring. Yes, they had to mention that didn't they. Apparently the ‘N’ symbolises a chicane, what Hyundai describes as 'the essence of its high-performance car development.' It also means Hyundai can use the phrase 'thrilling to the Nth degree'. See what they've done there.
What does a Hyundai i30 N (2018) cost?
Hyundai i30 N (2018): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 381–1301 litres
Like the standard i30, the interior of the N feels good quality, although Hyundai hasn't exactly gone overboard with the hot hatch styling. In fact it's pretty subtle. Which is an understatement.
Still, it does get sports seats which are very supportive with good side bolsters, yet still comfortable, which you'll appreciate on long journeys. There's also a thick leather steering wheel with contrasting stitching, plus a special gear lever.
But that aside it's pretty much the same as any other i30 with the same good level of finish and a solid feel to everything. Exciting it may not be but there's a lot to be said for user-friendliness and the i30 keeps things simple and intuitive.
All the controls are obvious and easy to use, the analogue dials are clear and everything just works. It's a car that you'll quickly feel at ease in.
It's well equipped too with a nice high resolution touchscreen system with navigation as standard along with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Other nice touches include a wireless charging pad although you'll need to check whether your phone works, especially if you have an iPhone.
There is also a connection to Live Services that provides traffic information, weather updates, speed camera locations and local points of interest in real time. The subscription to the service is provided free for seven years.
Being an i30, the N is also practical with decent room for rear passengers, although if you're above six-foot tall you may find it a squeeze. The boot is useful at 395 litres and is well-shaped, with a nice wide, flat load area and a double floor for hiding valuables.
Standard equipment from launch:
i30 N models get LED head and tail lights, Smart Adaptive Speed Control, Keyless Entry with Engine Start/Stop Button, 8-inch Touchscreen Satellite Navigation with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, Electronically Controlled Suspension, 17-inch ventilated front brake discs with 16-inch rear and manually operated hand brake, a Torque Vectoring System and steering wheel mounted Drive Mode Buttons, where the driver can access and customise engine and suspension settings.
Performance Package adds 19-inch alloy wheels with Pirelli P-Zero tyres of a compound that’s specific to the i30 N, an additional 25PS of power, Electronical Limited Slip Differential, 18-inch ventilated front brake discs with 17-inch rear, leather and suede seats with electrical operation on the driver’s and passenger’s seats and the Active Variable Exhaust System.
Child seats that fit a Hyundai i30 N (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Hyundai i30 N (2018) like to drive?
The standard i30 N gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 250PS - it's the same unit used in the Kia Stinger among others - but the N gets a completely different head, pistons, rods and crank. The result is a car that's unlike anything Hyundai or Kia has produced before.
Go for the Performance Pack and power is upped to 275PS although both have the same 353Nm of torque and it's this which gives the i30 N such strong in-gear pace.
That torque is available from 1500rpm, so you don't have to rev the socks off it to get meaningful performance. It also has an overboost which ups this to 378Nm for 18 seconds and is really noticeable when you're overtaking.
On paper, the i30 N will accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds. The 275PS Performance Pack knocks this down to 6.1 seconds - quicker than a Golf GTI 230PS manual if you're counting.
The i30 N isn't just about power though. It's the way it delivers its performance which impresses. The engine is flexible and free-revving but never feels coarse, even right up at the red line. The result is a car that wills you on to push the revs ever higher.
Put it in N mode and it sounds superb too, the exhaust taking on a booming resonance. Go for the Performance Package and it adds the Active Variable Exhaust System which crackles and pops when you come off the power. Yes you'll feel like some sort of teenage hooligan who has just passed his or her test, but it's so addictive, it's hard not to drive with the thing permanently in its most sporty N setting.
There's an old-school feeling to the way the i30 N drives. And we mean that in the best way. The steering has a lovely weight and feel to it, so you really feel part of the driving experience, the gear change is lovely and solid, plus it responds instantly to throttle inputs.
The handling is superb too. The i30 N is incredibly agile and feels nimble through corners, yet reassuringly grippy too. Despite all that power going through the front wheels, there's very good traction. Although like any front-wheel drive hatch, accelerate hard - particularly in the wet - and the front tyres will scrabble for grip.
The body control is very impressive and the ride quality isn’t too bad either. Yes it's firm, so hardly what you’d call comfortable, but it's not bone-shattering nor does it feel unsettled at low speeds. It's certainly one of the more refined hot hatches on the market.
If you can afford the extra, we'd definitely recommend getting the Performance Package. It gets you larger 19-inch alloy wheels (a marginal impact on ride quality) that come with Pirelli P-Zero tyres, in place of the standard 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sports.
Alongside those are a proper mechanical limited slip differential that keeps the front wheels pointed exactly where you’re expecting them to go, without impairing the steering feel.
Other extras include a body-stiffening brace between the rear wheels, stronger brakes, slightly tweaked steering and adjustments to the gear ratios.
This, along with the extra power, means it's a more complete hot hatch than the standard version and you do notice those additional bits of kit - especially the limited slip differential - in everyday driving, even if it's just accelerating away from a tight roundabout.
As for running costs, the official figures say the i30 N will do about 40mpg but in reality you're looking at a figure closer to 30mpg.
|2.0 T-GDi 250||37 mpg||6.4 s||159 g/km|
|2.0 T-GDi 275||36 mpg||6.1 s||163 g/km|
|2.0 T-GDi 275 Fastback||-||6.1 s||178 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Hyundai i30 N (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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