2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N first drive

The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N

Craig Duff

Posted December 22, 2021

Hyundai has saved its best performance car of 2021 for last, in the form of the i30 Sedan N. 

As the most composed N-car in the Hyundai stable, the i30 Sedan N (known as Elantra N in overseas markets) mounts a compelling case as the best buy. 

The i20 N is more entertaining on a tight track, while the Kona N has the preferred ride height and hip-point access of an SUV. Where the sedan stands out is its capacity to absorb big loads in the boot and big hits on typically potholed Australian back roads.

Toss in the fact that the supply of the sedan is expected to be greater than its performance siblings, it's likely buyers will gravitate to this car.


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The interior of the 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
The driver's display for the 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N steering wheel

How much does the Hyundai i30 Sedan N cost?

Opting for an automatic transmission invariably involves a hit to the bank account, but not in the case of the i30 Sedan N. 

The eight-speed dual-clutch auto is the default transmission and comes at a cost of $49,000 before on-road expenses. The six-speed manual is a no-cost option.

The total cost should come to $49,495 plus on-roads, given six of the seven exterior paint colours are considered premium hues and attract a premium price.

Service intervals are 12 months or 10,000km and the cost for the duration of the five-year warranty is $335 per visit, for a for a total of $1675.

How safe is the Hyundai i30 Sedan N?

ANCAP has yet to test the i30 Sedan, meaning all variants are officially unrated. That’s not to say they’re not safe, it just means Hyundai opted not to test the car itself and the ratings body hasn’t got around to auditing the car independently. 

The sedan isn’t sold in Europe, so the EuroNCAP data can’t be applied either.

The only feature likely to impact the safety score is the absence of a front centre airbag, intended to prevent the passenger and driver bumping heads in the event of a crash.

Otherwise, the safety kit is comprehensive, including six airbags and the usual plethora of software and sensor based active safety features, from blind-spot detection to rear cross-traffic assist, a driver attention monitor, autonomous emergency braking with the capacity to detect pedestrians, lane keep assist and a safe exit warning that warns occupants trying to get out of the car of approaching vehicles.


The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
Overhead view of the 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N

What’s the Hyundai i30 Sedan N like inside?

As is the case with Hyundai’s other N-branded models, most of the improvements to the i30 Sedan N over the regular car have been to the mechanicals.

Contrast blue stitching on the dash and seats helps lift the cabin ambiance and the leather-upholstered seat sport an N logo to differentiate it from the standard car. 

A chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals reinforce the perception of performance.

Other amenities include a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with satellite navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity backed by a wireless phone charging pad, an eight-speaker Bose sound system, dual-zone climate control and heated and ventilated front seats. 

A pair of air vents mounted on the back of the centre console let rear-seat passengers shoot the breeze and while the back pews aren’t going to suit too many basketballers, there’s enough head and legroom for the majority of folks.

Opening the boot reveals a generous 464 litres of space: more than enough for a pram and accessories or a set of suitcases. You can drop the rear seats to extend the carrying length, providing whatever you’re trying to insert will fit between the x-shaped tubular alloy that reinforces the i30 Sedan N’s rear end.

What’s under the bonnet of the Hyundai i30 Sedan N?

The business end of the i30 Sedan N houses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with some subtle but important variations to the engine found in the i30 N hatch. Because the engine bay is physically larger, Hyundai could install a larger airbox to improve the flow of oxygen into the engine, which has freed the vehicle to produce maximum torque from 2100-4700 rpm.

That torque is an impressive 392Nm, backed by 206kW.

The spent exhaust gases exit via an active variable exhaust (depending on which mode the driver is operating in). It sounds complex, but the output sound is the most resonant of any of the Hyundai N range.

Buyers can opt for an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. Purists may select the manual but pragmatism suggests the auto is the better option, given the official 0-100km/h time is a rapid 5.3 seconds compared to the manual’s 5.8-second run.


The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N
The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N

Is the Hyundai i30 Sedan N efficient?

Not many people buy a performance sedan expecting frugal fuel economy. The i30 Sedan N doesn’t disappoint, though it averaged 8.2 litres/100km - with either transmission - under the combined fuel cycle.

Expect to see real-world 10s, climbing to 15L/100km if you have a serious crack at your favourite back road (all while maintaining the posted speed limit). The engine note doesn’t sound particularly impressive inside the cabin but is much more resonant for passers-by, especially when it pops and crackles on a downshift.

How does the Hyundai i30 Sedan N drive?

The i30 Sedan N rolls on a unique chassis and it is the best Hyundai performance model the company has delivered to date.

The front end - where all the weight of the engine resides - is a well-executed evolution of the i30 N hatch platform and results in a more convincing and communicative drive.

Head office in South Korea has allowed Hyundai’s local product development manager Tim Rodgers to tweak the algorithms that govern the adaptive suspension for local conditions. 

He has adapted roll and rebound to cater for our potholed and patchy bitumen and the result is a vehicle that - in comfort mode - deals with some of the gnarliest B-roads our local government departments are prepared to invest cash on.

The grip is aided and abetted by Michelin rubber, which clings like a distressed toddler to their parent. I suspect replacing them won’t be cheap but, hey, it’s your baby so price won’t be an issue.

Flip the car into Sport mode and the ride isn’t as composed over back roads but is a great match for smoother surfaces 

Hyundai has also installed a pair of “N” buttons on the steering wheel, letting owners adjust engine and transmission power with steering and suspension response. Wind the first two up to max and softer the latter duo and you have a car that can outrun most while still being amenable enough to not upset your child’s sleep.

Should I buy one?

Yes. Providing you are prepared for entry and exit to the low-slung sedan driving position, the i30 Sedan N is the most versatile performance vehicle Hyundai has produced.

The space in the boot and space in the rear make it a serious proposition as a weekday commuter, while the mechanicals under the floor and bonnet make it a genuine performance vehicle that can do the job on a track or a back road.

Hyundai i30 N Kona

So you want a quick Hyundai but aren’t prepared to stoop to an i30 Sedan N. The company has you covered in the form of the Kona N.

Even Rodgers can’t rewrite the rules of physics, so the Kona’s higher centre of gravity means it can’t match the sedan in outright performance, but he has fettled the machine to fuse practicality with the potential for serious fun.

The Kona N comes in two flavours, neither of them vanilla. The base car is fitted with a 10.25-inch LCD touchscreen, digital radio, eight-speaker Hamon Kardon sound system, 19-inch alloy wheels with premium Pirelli P-Zero tyres, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and impressive 360mm ventilated front brakes. 

Priced from $47,500 before on-road costs, buyers can add metallic paint for $595 of the matte gold finish for $1,000.

Another $3,000 will put you behind the leather-wrapped wheel of a Premium version, which adds powered leather front seats with heating and ventilation, a sunroof, front parking sensors and an electro-chromatic (auto-dimming) rear mirror, which should be mandatory for all new vehicles.



The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.