2023 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
The once-beloved sportssedan has suffered a fall from grace over the years.SUVs rose to fashion and, since the demise of our local car industry, development of notable new exampleshas grown fewer and farther between.
Now, N Division has released theHyundai i30 Sedan N. A slick, feature-filled performance sedan keenly positioned at $49K (before on-road costs), representing one of the most compelling cases for a circa-$50K sports sedan in recent times.With just one highly equipped model offered, the only additional equipment you can opt for are the sunroof ($2000) and premium paint ($495).
BOOTED HI-PO HERO WITH REAL DEPTH
As standard, you get: automatic LED front lights and LED rear lights, active variable exhaust, e-LSD, eight-speaker Bose sound system, 10.25-inch digital cluster, 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, keyless entry, wireless charging pad, heated and cooled N Sport front seats, leather upholstery, ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control and 19-inch alloys. The i30 Sedan remains unrated by ANCAP, but you get six airbags along with a comprehensive active safety suite, including: blind-spot monitoring, forward collision-avoidance assist, driver-attention warning, lane-keep assist, lane-following assist, rear crosstraffic collision avoidance-assist, tyre-pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and rear-view camera.
There’s a lot going on in regards to the exterior styling, but it’s certainly striking. The dominating black elements of the front fascia are polarising, but rest assured it looks better in the flesh. The car looks purposeful, with big exhausts, sensible wing-type spoiler, red highlights and diffuser with N Division’s signature triangle rear fog light.
The interior feels solid, sharing most of its architecture and materials with the existing i30 Sedan N-Line. There is hard plastic to be found high on the dash and doors, but the N gains unique doorcards, steering wheel, shifter and seats to lift the ambience. The 10-way power adjusted driver seat can be set nice and low, although the passenger seat is manual with no height adjustment. The wheelbase – 70mm longer than the Hatch – affords ample rear space for adults while the boot, at 464 litres, simply dwarfs the Kona N and i30 N Hatch’s respective 361 and 396 litres.
N Division’s prolific 2.0-litre turbocharged T-GDI four-cylinder drivetrain returns, producing 206kW/392Nm, driving the front wheels via a wet-style eight-speed dual-clutch transmission – or a no-cost option six-speed manual.
While the main oily bits remain the same, don’t make the assumption that this is just a stretched hatch. It’s a vastly different beast under the skin. Compared to the existing hatchback and Kona, the i30 Sedan (known overseas as the Elantra) is based upon a newer, lighter and more rigid K3 platform. Under the front-end, the Sedan N debuts a World Rally-derived integrated drive axle (IDA), which reduces complexity, unsprung mass (1.7kg per corner) and increases rigidity by 55 percent over the prior flagship N-Line. Dividends are paid in both dynamics and low-speed comfort. Compared to the i30 Hatch and Kona, the Sedan is shockingly comfy.
Normal and Sport suspension settings have received a unique local tune and, in Normal, it feels plusher than even a Kona N. It’s impressively damped, more so when you consider that spring rates have increased by 23 percent at the front and 49 percent at the rear compared to the N-Line. On the highway, it wafts over juts and imperfections with a calm rise and fall, with excellent body control under bump and compression.
The local arm has pushed for factory-fitted Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, over the Pirelli P Zeroes found elsewhere in the range. The French hoops boast a wider operating temperature while producing markedly less road noise than the Italian rubber.
In a dynamic setting, the car is tremendously capable with great highspeed stability afforded by the longer wheelbase, while the lighter and more rigid front end yields greater immediacy on turn-in. The e-LSD is hugely effective, giving the car ample amounts of midcorner adjustability, and the ability to power down far earlier than you expect, producing minimal torque steer and axle tramp on exit.
Hyundai’s ‘flat-power’ tune works to great effect, producing max torque from just 2100rpm to 4700rpm, before peak power takes over from 5500rpm to 6000rpm. In effect, there’s virtually unending thrust throughout the rev range with no detectable drop-off before the cluster flares red to signal your shift point.
The DCT is a great, capable unit, delivering frenetic and solid shifts at speed, while remaining smooth and seamless around town. Its automatic logic is intuitive and decisive, only occasionally settling in a gear too high on corner exit if you don’t input enough throttle. Large aluminium paddles are a quick and satisfying solution.
The manual gearbox is smooth shifting, with a light clutch. But the throw is long and weightless, and lacks that tactile satisfaction of other units. It’s a good and effective gearbox, but not a fantastic one.
There are some quirks to note, however. Adaptive cruise is not available for the Sedan. The turning circle is large at 10.6 metres and the front left parking sensors are prone to going off on their own accord when completely stationary (this was observed in multiple cars).
And yet, the Sedan N is the comfiest of the N family, arguably the most practical and every bit as fast. There’s a depth and maturity to its character, with a wider bandwidth than its stablemates. From Hyundai’s rapid rise to stardom over the past four years, the roadmap from here shifts with a further focus on electrification. If this is all we have for now, enjoy the spoils. N Division has saved one of its best for last.
Model 2023 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
- Engine 1998cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo
- Max power 206kW @ 5500-6000rpm
- Max torque 392Nm @ 2100-4700rpm
- Transmission 8-speed dual-clutch/6-speed manual
- Weight 1480kg
- 0-100km/h 5.4sec (claimed)
- Economy 8.2L/100km (tested)
- Price $49,000
- On sale Now
Sedan’s unique front-end gives brilliant turn-in response and grip, along with outstanding power-down ability
PLUS Urban comfort; epic e-LSD; real dynamic talent; keen price
MINUS Limp shifter action; parking sensor false alarm; turning circle