Hyundai i30 N Review & Prices
The Hyundai i30 N is a seriously fun hard-edged hot hatch, but lacks the comfort of some of its more versatile alternatives
Find out more about the Hyundai i30 N
The Hyundai i30 N is like the Korean fried chicken of hot hatches, bringing a twist from an unexpected source on the classic recipe.
You’ll immediately spot this is no regular Hyundai i30. The N gets an aggressive new body kit, lots of red striping, lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels and a massive twin-exit exhaust system to highlight its boy racer aspirations.
Changes to the inside aren’t quite so obvious at first glance. The N does get some sports seats, a new steering wheel and blue stitching, but the core design of the i30 remains the same. That is until you switch it on to be greeted by shift lights, an N logo in the instrument cluster and a serious growl from the exhaust.
You’ll also find a 10.0-inch infotainment screen taking centre stage on the dashboard, complete with ‘N Mode’ — a dream for stats nerds. Here you’ll find a lap timer, G meter and also settings to configure your own driving mode.
Those sitting in the back benefit from the thinner sports seats too thanks to a little more knee room, plus they’ll still get the decent headroom from the hatchback body shape. There’s also a nice helping of Alcantara across the rear row, too.
Boot space does take a bit of a hit because of a bar across the back designed to stiffen the car, though. This drops the capacity to 381 litres from the regular hatchback’s 395. If sheer space is a concern, take a look at the Skoda Octavia vRS with its 600-litre capacity.
If you’re willing to trade a bit of comfort for a lot of fun, the Hyundai i30 N will have plenty of appeal
Powering the Hyundai i30 N is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A 2021 update boosted power up to 280hp, sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. You can also pay a bit extra for an eight-speed automatic.
As far as fun goes, the Hyundai i30 N is up there with the best hot hatches. It’s overly harsh in its all-out sporting N Mode but play with the settings a little to soften it up, and you’ll quickly find it easy to get some serious thrills out of.
Its steering is sharp, the engine is responsive and powerful while there’s loads of feedback on how the car’s behaving through the wheel and your bum. It’s a proper riot.
However, that does compromise daily usability a bit. It rides a bit harshly over bumps in the road — not unbearably so but certainly not as well as the Volkswagen Golf GTI would. You’ll also get plenty of road noise coming into the cabin at motorway speeds.
Overlook those shortcomings though and you’ll find the Hyundai i30 N to be a really good, fun hot hatch.
Take a look at the latest Hyundai i30 N deals available through carwow to see how much you could save on one.
The Hyundai i30 N has a RRP range of £35,110 to £37,135. However, with carwow you can save on average £2,042. Prices start at £33,113 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £495. The price of a used Hyundai i30 N on carwow starts at £28,420.
Our most popular versions of the Hyundai i30 N are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|2.0T GDi N Performance 5dr||£33,113||Compare offers|
As you’d expect from a Hyundai — even a Hyundai that’s rapidly building itself a reputation as a brand that can compete with premium badges — the i30 N offers pretty solid hot-hatch value for money. Given that its 280hp power output splits the difference between the 300hp VW Golf GTI Clubsport and the standard 245hp Golf GTI, you’d expect the i30 N’s price tag to sit between those two. But it doesn’t — in fact the Hyundai is more than £2,000 cheaper than the basic Golf GTI. That makes it one of the performance car bargains of the moment.
Against the equally-powered Ford Focus ST, the Hyundai is more closely priced — in fact there’s less than £1,000 difference between the two, but you’d have to say that the Hyundai’s cabin looks and feels just a fraction more upmarket than the Ford’s. Equally closely aligned on price is the Skoda Octavia vRS, a car that’s basically a Golf GTI with a bigger boot. That’s actually slightly cheaper, and way more practical than the i30 N but then it is giving away 35hp to the Korean car. Want to throw a real spanner in the Hyundai’s works? Have a look at the Cupra Leon. For £2,000 less than the i30 N, you can have the 245hp version (with a standard automatic gearbox to boot — the i30 N asks for an extra £1,975 for its eight-speed auto) or, for the same price as the automatic i30 N, you can have the punchy 300hp Cupra Leon which uses the same engine as that pricey VW Golf GTI Clubsport.
Raunchy performance and great fun, but not the most refined
The trick in town is to keep the i30 N in its softest driving mode, with the electronically adjustable suspension in its most relaxed state. This being a hot hatch, you’re still going to feel the bumps way more than you would in a conventional i30, but it’s much-improved on early models, especially since Hyundai fitted updated parts from the rakish-looking i30 N Fastback model in 2021. It’s not as smooth as a Golf GTI around town, but it’s now acceptably comfortable rather than a bit too crashy, as the original i30 N was. Visibility is excellent, aside from that chunky rear pillar which creates quite a blind spot. The steering, even in Comfort mode, is quite heavy but not too much so for parking, and that’s helped by front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Drive-N models also get a system that warns you not to open a door if there’s a cyclist coming up in your blind spot.
On the motorway
Refinement is the i30 N’s enemy here. The sports exhaust — which crackles with menace when you’re pressing on — can be adjusted into a quieter mode, but even so that four-cylinder turbo engine can drone a bit at motorway speeds, and there’s quite a bit of tyre noise on coarse surfaces. You do get cruise control and lane-keeping steering, which help to take the sting out of longer journeys but you’ll have to upgrade to the Drive-N model if you want blind-spot warning. The excellent front seats are supportive on long runs though, and that mighty 280hp engine means that long motorway inclines are an utter doddle to deal with, but the i30 N doesn’t quite cruise with the same level of comfort that you’ll find in the Golf GTI or the Honda Civic Type-R.
On a twisty road
Well, this is kind of the whole point of the i30 N isn’t it? The car has been in part designed and engineered by people poached from BMW’s M-Sport division and that really shows in the steering, which has lots of feel and allows you to really play with the i30 N in corners. There’s a clever electronic differential which helps to hunt down grip (especially helpful in tricky weather conditions) and the i30 N sticks to the road with real vim. It’s perhaps a touch less sophisticated in feel than the Golf GTI, but it is enormously good fun and feels more engaging than the German car. Put it in Sport mode and you can really enjoy yourself. There’s also launch control if you want to make a perfect 0-60 getaway (but maybe keep that for track days).
Roomy cabin but boot space is a bit awkward
There’s lots of useful storage space in the front of the i30 N, with big door bins that will easily hold a large bottle of water. That’s good news when you’re working up such a sweat with all that enthusiastic driving… There’s a big storage area under the heating and air conditioning controls, which easily swallows a large-screen phone and it’s where you’ll also find no fewer than three power sockets (two 12-volt, one USB) and a wireless phone charger. There are two cup holders but annoyingly they’re located behind the gearshift so big bottles of fizzy drink get in the way if you’ve gone for the manual ‘box. Under the front seat armrest there’s a useful storage space and the glovebox isn’t bad either.
Space in the back seats
The i30 N lacks a bit for rear seat space. The standard i30 hatchback is roomy enough, but the i30 N’s bulky front bucket seats rob a crucial few millimetres of knee room and while it’s fine back there in broad terms, the likes of the Ford Focus ST and especially the Skoda Octavia vRS are way better for back seat passengers. You do at least get nice, sporty-looking suedette trim for the rear seats, and there are useful door bins too but there’s not really enough width to get three people sitting comfortably in the back. There are ISOFIX anchors in the outer two rear seats though, and the back door opening is nice and large, so getting the kids set up in there is pretty easy.
It’s hard not to see the i30 N’s boot is actually pretty decent. A standard i30 N has a 395-litre boot which is pretty impressive, but the N loses 14 litres of that to optional extra suspension bracing struts which drop the total capacity to 381 litres. That’s still pretty good — a match for the Golf GTI for instance — but when you fold the back seats down to expand the available space to 968 litres that suspension brace sticks up from the floor so you’re never going to get a flat load space. The thing is that you’re going to want that brace as you’ll want your i30 N to be the most N-ish it can be. There’s a slight loading lip, but nothing you’re going to fall out with the i30 N over, and if you really need a more practical rapid Hyundai, there’s the slope-backed i30 N Fastback, which has a more useful 436 litre boot (including the optional suspension brace), but the champion in this class is the Skoda Octavia vRS which can swallow 600-litres.
Some cheap bits but great seats
There’s nothing wrong with the i30 N’s cabin, it’s just that its close relationship with the standard i30 hatchback means that it can look and feel a bit cheap in some places. Still, even with that in mind there are swings and roundabouts in here…
The i30 N’s cabin is considerably classed-up by chunky, high-back bucket seats which are wonderfully comfortable but which still clamp you in place when you’re cornering with some enthusiasm. Other nice touches are plenty of fake suede trim, and contrast stitching in N-Sport’s distinctive signature pale blue colour. There are also optional ’N-Light’ seats, which get an illuminated N-badge built into the base of the headrests, just like a BMW M3 Competition. They’re optional on standard N-Line cars and standard on the pricier Drive-N model, and are slimmer and more aggressive-looking than the standard seats as well as opening up a fraction more rear legroom.
Also just like a BMW M-car, there’s a rev-counter that features a redline which adjusts according to how well warmed-up the engine might be, while there are even gearshift indicator lights in the instrument binnacle which flash to remind you change up a cog if you’ve got the manual gearbox. There’s still no option for fully digital instruments though, which is a bit disappointing.
You do get a very decent 10.25-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash, though. That comes with built-in navigation as well as some N-specific displays and menu options, including a G-load map which shows you how much fun you’ve been having. Good for trackdays or for really boring your family with.
The physical controls for the heating and air conditioning look a touch clunky, but they do work well and they’re far easier to use than the too-fiddly controls that Volkswagen fits to the Golf GTI. Overall quality levels are very good, as you’d expect from Hyundai, but there are a few too many cheap plastics around. This means that the i30 N feels less impressive inside than, say, the Skoda Octavia vRS but it’s more competitive when you compare it to a Ford Focus ST’s cabin.
Unquestionably the coolest feature though are the two big blue buttons (they’re red in Drive-N models) on the steering wheel. These are like the M1 and M2 buttons that BMW uses for the likes of the M3 — yet another BMW-esque touch in the sporty Hyundai. The button on the left allows you to cycle through the usual Sport, Comfort, and Eco modes. The button on the right, though, switches between the hard-core N mode and another customisable driving mode. It means that you can have a pre-set mode with the car in full-on comfort for cruising, and flick instantly back and forth between that and N-mode depending on the road. It’s a neat feature, and genuinely useful if you want to have a little fun on a longer journey.
Clearly no-one buys a family hatchback with a 280hp engine in the expectation of a frugal driving experience, but even then the i30 N’s thirst and emissions might give you a little gasp of horror. As standard, with a manual gearbox, the i30 N achieves 35mpg and has CO2 emissions of 182g/km. That’s a fuel consumption figure you’ll struggle to reach if you’re using much of the engine’s potency, and it’s significantly worse than the 38mpg and 162g/km offered by the standard Golf GTI.
Go for the automatic version and it gets worse — 33mpg and 191g/km of CO2. That means that the automatic i30 N will cost you a whopping £1,450 in VED road tax for your first year, while the manual model will set you back £945. A Golf GTI will set you back just £585 by comparison.
Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the i30 since 2017, which means that the five-star safety rating it received then might not still be valid as the safety goalposts keep moving. Back then the i30 received an 88% score for adult occupant protection, and 84% for child occupant protection — both decent scores and in real terms the i30 N should be a hugely safe car, even with all of its high-performance potency. It gets standard adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping steering and automated emergency braking so it’s pretty well up to date in terms of electronic driver aids. Higher-spec Drive-N models get blind spot warning, rear cross traffic collision assistance, and the system that warns you not to open a door if there’s a cyclist or pedestrian in your blind spot. The automated braking system does rely on a windscreen mounted camera and the Hyundai system does have the habit of becoming bamboozled by very wet weather, often flashing up a warning on the dashboard that it’s not working correctly. At least it’s being honest, we guess.
Few car makers have as good a reputation as Hyundai when it comes to reliability and customer satisfaction, and the i30 N’s extra attention to detail when it comes to its high-performance additions should help in this regard. Even so, when you’ve got a high performance car, it’s always putting extra pressure on items such as suspension, brakes, and cooling so expect some extra maintenance requirements in those areas. The Pirelli P-Zero performance tyres will also be expensive to replace when you need them. Hyundai’s standard — and excellent — five-year, unlimited mileage warranty should cover most eventualities though. The i30 has had three recalls in the UK, for airbags that may deploy prematurely; possible short-circuits in the anti-lock braking electronics; and incorrect sunroof software.
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.