Hyundai i30 N Line Sedan review

The Hyundai i30 N Line Sedan replaces the Hyundai Elantra that had been on sale in Australia since 2016.  There are six different variants of the i30 sedan.  The base spec i30 Active manual costs $24,790 before on road costs.  This top of the range N Line Premium model on test costs $37,290 before on road costs and is only available with a seven speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.

This sporty variant joins the Hyundai i30 sedan range, with the N Line receiving a sports suspension tune, multi-link rear suspension and a more powerful turbocharged engine.  Having previously driven a number of Hyundai’s with a six-speed manual gearbox, it will be interesting to see how the seven speed DCT gearbox compares to it.

Interior

This car features a 10-way electrically powered driver’s seat, while the front passenger seat is manually adjustable.  The driver’s seat moves back automatically when opening the door, giving more room to exit the car.  Both of the leather appointed front seats are heated and ventilated, with red stitching and the ‘N’ logo embroidered onto the backrests.  The ‘N’ logo is also displayed on the well-proportioned three spoke heated steering wheel and gear knob.  There’s more than adequate head and leg room for front seat occupants, however in the rear, room in these areas is a little bit compromised.  Folding down the rear seats is a bit unconventional; you have to open the boot to get access to the latches.  The panoramic glass sunroof is easy to use and is electrically operated.  The 10.25-inch high-definition touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital driver’s cluster are well integrated into the dashboard.

The centre fascia is well equipped with buttons to operate the radio and climate control and underneath these is a 12V socket, USB outlets and a wireless phone charger.  To the right of the gear knob, there are buttons for the electric parking brake and auto hold as well as the rear camera.  Traction control and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are easy to turn on and off with the push of a button to the right of the steering wheel.  There are a couple of cool features of the i30 N Line Sedan that need to be mentioned.  When driving at night, there is a small horizontal strip of light underneath the vents that changes colour depending on the drive mode selected.  The driver can also change between four different layouts for the instrument dials on the 10.25-inch digital driver’s cluster, depending on their individual preference.  There are plenty of cup holders for both front and rear seat occupants and air vents for the rear seat passengers.  In this model, there’s a spacesaver wheel included and 474 litres of boot space.

Exterior

Hyundai’s i30 N Line Sedan is available in a choice of six different exterior colours, being Fiery Red, Lava Orange, Intense Blue, Phantom Black, Fluid Metal and Polar White.  This example is finished in Fiery Red and is one of the most unique looking sedans on sale today.  At the front of the car, there’s a large black front grille featuring geometric patterning and an N Line badge.  Below the grille are arrow-shaped air curtains on the lower spoiler to improve aerodynamics and engine cooling.  The side of the car is defined by arrow-like creases in its body panels, with the N Line badge again featuring on the front quarter panels.  The rear of the car is very distinctive, featuring arrow shaped lights, a small black spoiler on the boot, chrome twin exhausts and rear diffuser.  The 18-inch five spoke alloy wheels are wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tyres; 235/40/18 profile front and rear.  Brakes discs are ventilated at the front, measuring 305mm in diameter, while at the rear there are solid discs, measuring 284mm in diameter.

Standard equipment

The Premium grade of the i30 N Line Sedan has a 10.25-inch high-definition touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, 10.25-inch digital driver’s cluster, a Bose Premium audio system, DAB+, rear parking collision avoidance, front parking sensors, 10-way power driver’s seat, sunroof, electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, solar control glass, heated and ventilated front seats and sun visor extenders.  Other key safety features include six airbags, ISOFIX child restraint anchors in the rear, driver assistance warning, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, adaptive cruise control (auto only), blind spot collision avoidance and rear cross traffic alert.  There’s also LED headlights and tail-lights, dual-zone climate control, a rear camera and rear parking sensors, wireless (Qi standard) smartphone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and corded Android Auto connection.

Drive modes

Drive modes are activated by using the Drive Mode switch located to the right of the instrument cluster.  There are four different drive modes to choose from in the i30 N Line Sedan, including Normal, Eco, Sport and Smart.  There are eight pages to toggle through on the instrument display.  The first page displays drive information (current trip kilometres, fuel use in litres/100km, time driven in hours).  Page two displays since refuelling (kilometres, fuel use in litres/100km, time driven in hours).  Page three shows accumulated information (kilometres, fuel use in l/100km, time driven in hours).  Page four shows the digital speedometer and page five shows attention level.  Page six shows tyre pressures, page seven shows Drive modes while page eight displays the contents configurator.

Driving impressions and performance

The i30 N Line Sedan is powered by a 150kW, 265Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine known as the SmartStream, with power delivered to the front wheels.  The engine is started by pushing a button that sits underneath the main touchscreen.  This car has Hyundai’s seven-speed DCT with paddle-shift sequential manual mode.

The DCT gearbox can be operated by paddle-shifts behind the steering wheel or through the conventional gear shifter.  It’s a little hesitant when setting off from a standstill or accelerating from a very low speed and can sometimes select second gear instead of first.  I found this to be frustrating as well as the lack of a full manual mode that seems to be common in gearboxes from new Hyundai and Genesis models.  The engine and gearbox work in better harmony when accelerating at higher speeds and I found that the shifts from the DCT were smoother, faster and more precise in this scenario.  The i30 N Line Sedan is relatively lightweight by modern standards at 1340kg and completes the 0-100km/h sprint in a respectable 7.6 seconds.

The engine is quiet but when Sport mode is selected, there’s definitely more volume to the exhaust as well as some sound from the turbocharger, particularly noticeable under hard acceleration.  The biggest difference in engine noise is when selecting from Eco to Sport mode, with Sport mode offering a few pops and bangs from the exhaust.  The car’s in-gear acceleration is definitely at its sharpest in Sport mode and although it’s by no means a supercar, it builds speed deceptively quickly, with a nice shove into the driver’s seat.  It achieves combined fuel consumption figures of 6.8L/100km and has a 47 Litre fuel tank.  During my time with the car, consumption was around 8.5L/100km, with a mixture of freeway and country driving.

As far as putting the power to the road is concerned, the i30 N Line Sedan is more competent than the current Hyundai Veloster Turbo.  When exiting a sharp corner under heavy throttle and even with traction and stability control turned off, the car had no problems putting its power to the ground through its Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tyres.  There’s also minimal understeer when pushed hard and although torque steer is present, it’s never at unsafe levels.

For the i30 N Line Sedan, Hyundai engineers developed an Australian specification suspension tune that gets the most out of the multi-link rear-end.  Driving the car, it’s not a surprise that the car has a local suspension tune, with damper settings for compression and rebound being spot on for the different variety of road surfaces encountered on this test.  This results in the car being well composed over bumps and also being more than competent with fast direction changes and cornering.

Electric power steering is full of feel but I didn’t notice much change between drive modes.  It enables you to position the car exactly where it’s needed and inspires confidence.  The 305mm diameter ventilated front discs and 284mm diameter solid rear brakes are solid without being a standout and I felt like pedal feel was lacking.

There are however, some criticisms.  The first small criticism I have is the lane departure warning.  It’s understandable that modern cars have to have this technology fitted; however I’m not sure why they have to be so intrusive on the driving experience.  In this car, there was also wind noise coming through the door seal on the front passenger side, regularly causing a small whistle.  I’m not sure if this is a common issue or one that just affects this particular car.

Final thoughts

The i30 N Line Sedan’s main competitors are the Mazda 3 G25 sedan ($30,490), Toyota Corolla ZR sedan ($33,635) and Kia Cerato GT sedan ($31,990).  The i30 N Line Sedan is covered by Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a capped-price service schedule every 10,000km.  Those services cost just $299 each across the first five years.

The positives of this car certainly outweigh the negatives.  The DCT gearbox is too jerky and clumsy at low speeds for me and I’d personally prefer a manual gearbox.  There were also some small issues with build quality.  Having said that, in a sea of SUV’s and electric cars, the i30 N Line Sedan really stands out.  It’s a striking looking sedan from any angle, is safe, practical, well equipped and has great performance from its engine, suspension and steering.  It’s certainly a welcome addition to Hyundai’s i30 range, and brings a fresh perspective to the sedan segment.

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