- Excellent engine and transmission
- Amazing new sports seats
- Industry-best exhaust note
- Firm ride even in softest setting
- Interior could use more sprucing up
- Short service intervals
Hyundai shocked the world in 2017 with its i30 N hot hatch. Almost out of no where, the Korean brand created an exceptionally talented car and the automotive press marvelled at how well Hyundai’s first attempt at cracking the hot hatch market went. We raved about it when we drove it last year. This year, we see the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium hit the market with new exterior styling, refreshed interior details and the addition of a dual-clutch automatic option.
Rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS were put on notice. Here was a hot hatch that could dance with the best – and cost a lot less than the rest as well. Fast forward a few years and the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium is partially new for the MY21 model year, and promises to improve upon what is already a great hot hatch.
Ao is the i30 N still the hot hatch to buy as we head into 2022? Time to find out.
Price & Equipment: 8.5/10
The i30 N range was reshuffled with its mid-life update. The entry-level car is simply known as ‘i30 N’ and starts at $44,500 plus on-road costs. The model we tested here is the mid-spec 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium, which is priced at $47,500 plus on-road costs. Buyers can add a panoramic sunroof to the car with the $49,000 +ORC i30 N Premium with Sunroof. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox is $3,000 more expensive than the manual and only available with either the base i30 N or full-fruit i30 N with Sunroof.
The standard 2022 Hyundai i30 N is decently well equipped with 19-inch Rays alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation with live traffic updates, digital radio, a six-speaker audio system, keyless entry with push button start, a wireless smartphone charger, automatic LED headlights, heated and auto-folding exterior mirrors, cloth bucket seats, dual-zone climate control and LED interior lighting.
The 2021 Hyundai i30 N Premium adds automatic wipers, front parking sensors, leather and alcantara lightweight bucket seats, rear privacy glass, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and a luggage net in the boot.
Safety features across the i30 N range include seven airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention monitoring, auto high beam, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, an alarm, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, safe exit warning and tyre pressure monitoring. DCT variants add auto rear braking for the blind-spot and rear cross-traffic systems.
We would like to see the addition of adaptive cruise control, an electric driver’s seat, rear auto braking, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and cooled seats on the Hyundai i30 N Premium. The Hyundai i30 N-Line Premium brings the electric driver’s seat and cooled seats but unfortunately, the full-fat N does not.
The main rivals to the Hyundai i30 N are the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Renault Megane RS, Ford Focus ST and Toyota Yaris GR. The Golf GTI is now auto-only and is priced at $53,300 plus on-road costs ($5,800 than the manual N Premium we tested here). The Megane RS Trophy can be had with a manual transmission but is $53,990 plus on-road costs ($6,490 more than the i30 N Premium). The Ford Focus ST is priced at $44,890, which undercuts the i30 N Premium by $2,500, so the i30 N has gone from cheapest in the segment to a more premium positioning.
There are six colours available for the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium. Four of them are no-cost colours such as ‘Polar White’, ‘Shadow Grey’, the hero colour ‘Performance Blue’ and our test car’s ‘Engine Red’. The two premium colours are ‘Dark Knight’ (dark grey) and ‘Phantom Black’ and they both attract a $495 price increase.
Performance & Economy: 9/10
The sole engine available in the 2022 Hyundai i30 N range is an N-specific 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder codenamed ‘G4KH’. It is a great engine that feels like it always wants you to go faster. The engine produces 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque, which are both slight increases on the pre-updated model. Power is sent to the front wheels via a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission in this case, but there is also an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that we’ll be testing soon. The manual hits 100km/h in just 5.9 seconds – the auto is even quicker at just 5.4 seconds to 100km/h.
Putting all the power to the ground is an electronically-controlled mechanical limited-slip differential that does a great job of controlling the power with minimal axle tramp in dry conditions (we’re looking at you, VW Group). The six-speed manual transmission that our test car was fitted with has a short throw and is great to use with a mechanical and precise feeling, even if the shifter can feel a tad notch sometimes. The clutch is is very hard to gauge though, and you often find yourself stalling when trying to get used to it. After a day or so, you should be able to get the hang of it.
The engine is an absolute firecracker: it is quick to rev and is quite gutsy. In our opinion, it also has more character than the ‘EA888’ engine that is used in the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Paired with the active exhaust system, the engine sound produced in the 2022 Hyundai i30 N is one of the best in the segment with pops, crackles and bangs which add to the experience. Above 4000rpm and with the exhaust set all the way in its loudest setting, say in N mode for example, the i30 N will wake up your entire neighbourhood.
There are five driving modes in the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium that change the engine performance, the e-LSD, exhaust valves, suspension, stability control and steering. Controlled by two blue performance buttons on the steering wheel, the left one will change the car between normal, sport and eco modes. Normal mode is the day to day mode that leaves everything in a relatively subdued setting. Sport dials everything up a notch and eco dials everything back to be as efficient as possible.
The right-hand button is what really sets hearts racing as it puts the car into what is known as N mode, which stiffens everything up and puts the engine and exhaust into its most performance-oriented setting. Pressing it again puts the car into custom mode where you choose which perimeters you want to change – we found the best setting to be comfort suspension and steering with Sport plus exhaust and engine.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI also has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder but produces a lesser 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque and the Renault Megane RS comes with a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque, which is 15kW and 8Nm more than the Hyundai.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium fitted with either transmission is 8.5L/100km. Our time spent behind the wheel of the i30 N on urban and highway driving environments – even with more spirited driving – gave us a real world average fuel consumption figure of just over 10.0L/100km. Not too bad considering the level of performance and noise on offer.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI has a claimed average fuel consumption of much less than the i30 (7.0L/100km) due to its DSG transmission and 26kW deficit to the i30 N.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
The 2022 Hyundai i30 N handles very well – in Sport or N mode, the i30 has a near impossible level of grip that defies belief. It seems to push even more into the corner the harder you go and there is no form of understeer or oversteer on the edge of the level of grip. Even in normal mode the suspension setup is still tailored more to handling than comfort and we are not complaining as it is a truly rewarding experience to corner in the i30 N. The suspension itself has seen upgrades to be more capable, and it is noticeably more well-rounded than before. Hyundai has played with the geometry both front and rear, the dampers and springs are all new. Boffins will like to know that the rear wheels have 1.5 degrees of negative camber.
One thing that the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium is very good at is having a split personality. The different driving modes dictate what the adaptive dampers do: in normal and eco mode the ride is acceptable for a day to day basis. It is on the firmer side, but not uncomfortable. Activating Sport mode in the i30 N firms up the ride to make it slightly uncomfortable over speed bumps – though great on faster, free-flowing roads. Putting the i30 into full on N mode stiffens the suspension up even further to a slightly too harsh level of daily driving. The upside here is that with the suspension in N mode, the i30 N exhibits incredible poise through corners, with 0 body roll and lightning fast responses.
The i30 N also comes with Pirelli P Zero tyres that have been specifically made by Pirelli for use in the i30 N. The good news is that they provide impressive grip in the wet too. The front brakes have also been upgraded to 360mm rotors (up from 345mm) as well, making the car even more capable on road or track. Like the standard i30, the N’s visibility is fine.
The i30 N is still a little on the loud side inside at speed – we’d like to see more noise suppression.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
Sitting behind the wheel of the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium is a rather underwhelming experience if you’re sitting idle. Other than the steering wheel, gear knob and bucket seats, there is nothing to differentiate the i30 N interior from the regular i30 range. The dash is identical and to put it honestly, rather bland – something like blue stitching or an N badge would liven it up a little bit. Think rental car spec, and you won’t be far off.
Other than the rather drab dash the rest of the interior is nice – the dials look great and are easy to gauge, though it would be nice to see the digital dials from the Kona N and i20 N used in the i30. The one-piece lightweight sports bucket seats are exceptionally good and hug you in all the right places, while there is also a good amount of adjustment as well so getting comfortable isn’t difficult. The steering wheel is thick and the drive select buttons are also large and easy to operate on the move. The handbrake on the other hand is very out of place. It’s made of hard plastic and looks ghastly.
The quality of the 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium interior is what we would call adequate. There are some hard plastics on the lower dashboard and door panels, but there are also some soft touch points such as the top of the dashboard and door tops. The leather and alcantara on the seats are very soft and are very good quality.
The storage in the i30 N is rather good with reasonable door pockets, a deep glovebox and centre console, a wireless charger in front of the gearbox to store your phone, there is also a place next to the manual handbrake to store a wallet or keys and there are also two cupholders in the centre console. It certainly offers more storage than the Renault Megane RS.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen in the 2022 Hyundai i30 N cabin is easy to use and high quality. It features wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which looks fantastic and is easy to set up and use. The navigation system is also very good as it has live traffic reporting, but we would personally just use the smartphone mirroring via a smartphone to set maps. There is also an N screen that will show the custom mode settings as well as a boost gauge and other performance screens.
The rear seats in the i30 N are comfortable and the space is roomy for the class. There is also a fold down centre arm rest with two cup holders. The rear leg, head and shoulder room would be described as adequate and you can easily fit two adults in there.
The 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium has a 381-litres boot which is slightly larger than the 374-litre boot in the Golf GTI and the 273-litre boot in the Ford Focus ST, though less than the 434L Renault. Folding the rear seats down in the i30 opens this space up to 1,247-litres – beware that can be difficult due to the removable structural braces, though.
Service & Warranty: 8.0/10
The 2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium comes with the brand’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty which is the same length of warranty offered on the Golf GTI, Focus ST and Megane RS. Hyundai will not void your warranty for taking the i30 N onto a racetrack. The i30 N also comes with 12 months of roadside assist which is extended at every scheduled dealer service for up to five years in total.
Servicing the i30 N comes around every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. This isn’t as long as the 12 month/15,000km intervals of the Golf GTI or Focus ST, or the 12 month/20,000km intervals of the Renault Megane RS. The cost of servicing the i30 N over the span of five years or 50,000km is $1,675 ($335 per service). The Volkswagen Golf GTI will cost $3,366 over the same period of time which is double the cost of the i30, but you can also travel a further 25,000km due to its longer servicing intervals.
2022 Hyundai i30 N Premium DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.5/10
The 2022 i30 N continues in the footsteps of Hyundai’s incredible opening act in 2017. It might not shock and awe with its talents like it did back in the day, but the i30 N remains one of the finest hot hatches on sale.
We’re big fans of the i30 N’s split personality. The i30 N is less expensive than most of its rivals and relatively practical as well. With the dampers in their softest setting it rides like any other hatchback. By clicking one button, it suddenly turns into a 206kW hard core hot hatch which can out-corner cars costing significantly more.
Of course, it’s not perfect with a noticeable price increase, a slightly underwhelming interior and short 10,000km service intervals. Should you buy an i30 N over the rivals? We believe so. It is cheaper than a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but it also has more power, it’s more fun behind the wheel and nails what a hot hatch should be.