Track team: Jules, i30 N and Iain
Track team: Jules, i30 N and Iain

ROAD TEST: Hyundai's two-faced hot hatch i30N

HYUNDAI'S i30 N is the brand's first dabble in the hot hatch market and has become a much-praised segment disrupter. At $40,000 before on-roads, it makes VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST shoppers pause for thought. Subaru WRX buyers, plus those spending more on a Renault Sport Megane, Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R or Peugeot 308 GTi, must also raise an eyebrow. Can the i30 N cut it as a family car and weekend track toy?



Jules and Iain: “The i30 N could help recapture (our) misspent youth.”
Jules and Iain: “The i30 N could help recapture (our) misspent youth.”

IAIN: Remember 15 years ago when you had a Peugeot 205 GTi and I had a BMW M3?

JULES: We were childless and had disposable income for fun cars. Happy memories.

IAIN: The i30 N could help recapture such misspent youth. It has space for two kids and luggage. Its 202kW turbo engine and tech-packed chassis equal plenty of grins.

JULES: It looks special but is it too "boy racer" for oldies?

IAIN: Not at all. Compare it to the dog's dinner design of the Civic Type R and the i30 N looks classily purposeful with racy 19-inch alloys, large air intakes, red body trim and red brake calipers.

JULES: I like the body colour but it's very showy. Perhaps I'd need slate grey or white.

IAIN: Absolutely not allowed. Ours is in the correct Performance blue, as used by Hyundai on its World Rally cars.



JULES: I like the chunky steering wheel, alloy pedals and blue stitching for the seats. Neat layout and roomy enough up front.

IAIN: It's a bit too "normal" Hyundai. At twice the price of an entry-level i30, I'd want a bit more to differentiate it.

JULES: The plastics are soft touch and the seats sporty and cossetting. I think you're being fussy.

IAIN: I can't help comparing it to a VW Golf GTI. The German has the benchmark classy hot hatch cabin.

Old-school elements: i30 N also has cabin luxury pack option
Old-school elements: i30 N also has cabin luxury pack option

JULES: You don't get many goodies. No keyless entry, push start or electric leather seats.

IAIN: Buy the Luxury Pack and get all of the above plus heated steering wheel, front park sensors and wireless smartphone charging.

JULES: I'd tick that box.

IAIN: Not me. I like the old-schoolness here. There's a proper handbrake, no stop-start fuel saving and it doesn't excessively beep like a fussy nanny. Stick a key in the ignition, depress the clutch and select first gear. Wonderful.



JULES: The money's been spent on the race stuff. Having a Drive Mode selector helps the i30 N change personalities.

IAIN: Agreed. Five modes - Eco, Normal, Sport, N or N Custom - change engine maps, damper settings, steering weight, stability control, limited-slip differential characteristics and exhaust sound.

Change personality: Everyday driver or uncork the 202kW turbo
Change personality: Everyday driver or uncork the 202kW turbo

JULES: Normal mode makes it just about liveable as a daily drive, though you still feel harsher bumps.

IAIN: I love the Custom mode. My drive to work had me selecting Normal for all, except the exhaust. I had that in "most obnoxious" setting.

JULES: No wonder the neighbours dislike you.

IAIN: Cruise control, dual-zone climate control, satnav and Apple CarPlay through an eight-inch screen help with everyday driving.



JULES: Hatchbacks make great load luggers. Nice light boot lid to open, and ample room for the weekly shop.

IAIN: A rear camera and park sensors prevent parking bingles too.



JULES: As a small hatch it's a fine size for our two young 'uns. Child seats fit across the back but there's no room for an adult between them.

IAIN: It lacks the latest active safety but seven airbags, lane keep assist and AEB are ample.

JULES: The kids' bikes squeezed in the boot, plus they loved the acceleration and noise, mini hoons that they are.



IAIN: Here's where the i30 N makes sense. After a week of school runs, I donned the crash helmet and took it hill climb racing for the weekend.

JULES: Best of all when you brought it back the brakes still worked, tyres weren't bald and it felt un-abused. You could drive to the track then home again.

IAIN: Exactly. And it's such a little weapon. More power and torque than a Golf GTI or Subaru WRX and the super-smart front differential sucks you into the apex of corners. Steering and balance are razor-precise, making average drivers look very good.

Jules says: “You could drive to the track then home again.”
Jules says: “You could drive to the track then home again.”

JULES: It's easy to select race-ready "N Mode" by tapping the blue N button on the steering wheel. And the noise. I love the burble and pops when lifting off at high revs.

IAIN: It's cheating but the car blips the throttle on downshifts so you don't have to heel-toe. Loads of on-board telemetry, lap timer, fade-free 345mm brakes and adjustable damping make it a proper track-focused tool.

JULES: You should really only buy one if you do track days, sprints or hill climbs.

IAIN: Makes the most sense but it's a desirable, fast road car too. Age doesn't matter, as long as you can handle three pedals and a gear stick. You'd be a grumpy sod to not enjoy the i30 N.



JULES: Great value for a talented and very fast hatch. I was a bit snobby about the Hyundai badge before but the i30 N's noise and sporty ability won me over.

IAIN: Daily drivable and a performance revelation at the track. In addition, Hyundai's five-year warranty has you covered for non-timed track use. Factory lightweight wheels, track tyres and brake upgrades are all available: the i30 N is the real deal. And I want one.



2018 Hyundai i30N is a hot hatch with a 202kW turb
2018 Hyundai i30N is a hot hatch with a 202kW turb

PRICE $39,990 plus on roads (cheap thrills)

WARRANTY/SERVICING 5 years/u'ltd km including track days, about $1500 for 5 years (excellent for track drivers)

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 202kW/353Nm (378Nm with overboost, plenty)

SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, tyre pressure monitors, rear camera, rear sensors (good)

THIRST 8.0L/100km (creeps up when used properly)

SPARE Space-saver (not ideal)

BOOT 381L/1287L (good)

Instant UV data for Emerald

Instant UV data for Emerald

UV sensor to to be installed in Emerald

Residents cut off

Residents cut off

Customers 'held to ransom' by service outage.

$3million road pledge

$3million road pledge

LNP commit $3million to regional road upgrade