The facelifted Hyundai i30 N hot hatch has been officially unveiled in Europe overnight. Here’s what we know so far.
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The 2021 Hyundai i30N hot hatch has technology inspired by Formula One’s ‘push to pass’ button.

A new “grin shift” mode “releases maximum power … for 20 seconds … performance that is sure to bring a grin to the driver’s face. To activate, the driver pushes a button on the steering wheel.”

The technology is among a long list of changes to the updated Hyundai i30N unveiled in Europe overnight.

Key changes include a power bump, a steering and suspension overhaul, lighter wheels, bigger brakes, the option of a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic for the first time, and a longer list of advanced safety features.

Exact timing, pricing and Australian specifications are yet to be announced, but the 2021 Hyundai i30N is expected here in the first half of next year.

The updated model is distinguished by a bold new nose, which incorporates the facelifted range’s sleeker headlights with embedded “tick-shaped” daytime running lights, a larger and more aggressive grille, forged alloy 19-inch wheels, bigger front brakes, and a redesigned rear end with larger exhaust tips.

Inside, the front seats have been redesigned and made from lightweight material. The seatbelts now have Hyundai N blue highlights, and the infotainment has been upgraded to a new 10.25-inch central touchscreen.

Safety has been given a boost with lane-tracing technology, blind spot collision intervention, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking when in reverse.

Here are the highlights in detail:

Engine

The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine gets a bump in power from 202kW at 6000rpm to 205kW at 5200rpm. Torque has increased markedly, from 353Nm in standard mode and 378Nm in overboost (from 1750rpm to 4200rpm) and now has a claimed output of 392Nm from 1950rpm to 4600rpm.

The result is a claimed 0 to 100kmh time of 5.9 seconds, 0.2 quicker than before. It is unclear if this time is for the manual or the automatic, though we suspect it is for the new quick-shifting eight-speed auto, an option on the i30N for the first time.

Hyundai says: “The (updated) engine offers flat power, which ensures high responsiveness and improved acceleration for even more fun on the road or on the track. Flat power provides more torque and power at lower rpm, thus utilising more of the engine’s potential in everyday driving situations. This improves acceleration in the mid- and high-speed range and delivers a consistently high performance even in a variety of ambient conditions.”

Transmission

The six-speed manual and its ratios are understood to have been carried over from before. New is the option of a wet-clutch eight-speed auto which promises slicker and quicker gear changes, shaving valuable fractions of a second from the acceleration time.

Hyundai says the twin clutch auto is “a wet type transmission, meaning that oil is used to cool the clutch components, which creates less friction and allows a higher amount of torque to be transferred through the gearbox”.

“The new transmission option was designed to provide the engaging experience of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic transmission. Drivers can choose to enter manual mode and shift gears either by using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel or the gear stick,” says Hyundai.

“The paddle shifters allow the driver to shift gears without taking their hands off the steering wheel. If the driver decides to use the gear lever instead, the gear lever comes with sporty shifting logic: to downshift, push forward, and to upshift, pull back.”

New drive modes

The new eight-speed auto has enabled three new N performance modes: N Grin Shift, N Power Shift and N Track Sense Shift.

Hyundai says: “N Grin Shift (NGS) releases maximum power of the engine and transmission for 20 seconds – performance that is sure to bring a grin to the driver’s face. To activate, the driver pushes a button on the steering wheel, and a countdown begins on the cluster showing the remaining seconds for this function”.

Meanwhile, Hyundai says, N Power Shift (NPS) engages “when the car accelerates with more than 90 percent of throttle, thereby mitigating any reduction in torque by using upshifts to deliver maximum power to the wheels. This enhances fun to drive by giving a ‘push feel’ when upshifting”.

The most hardcore mode, dubbed N Track Sense Shift (NTS), “automatically recognises when the road conditions are optimal for dynamic driving, for example on a racetrack. By selecting the right gear and shift timing, it provides optimal performance, just like a professional race car driver.”

These modes are part of “five distinct driving modes” dubbed Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom.

Each mode adjusts the responsiveness of the engine, suspension, stability control, the electronically-controlled limited slip differential, exhaust sound, steering, and transmission to suit a range of driving conditions.

Lighter wheels, bigger brakes

Hyundai says the redesigned 19-inch forged alloy wheels are 14.4 kg lighter (as a set, not individually) than the current 19-inch cast alloy wheels.

Hyundai says the new i30 N with Performance Package (standard in Australia) continues to be fitted with the same Pirelli P-Zero tyres developed especially for the original i30 N.

In Europe, the standard Hyundai i30N (which has less power and lacks the limited-slip differential) comes with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

Braking performance is said to have been improved thanks to an upgrade in front disc size from the current model’s 345mm rotors to new 360mm rotors. The floating caliper appears to be carried over from before, and the swept area of the brake pads are therefore likely to be the same as the pre-facelift version.

Steering and suspension

The suspension and steering have been retuned “resulting in improved ride and handling performance” compared to the original model, which won many accolades but did not receive universal praise.

CarAdvice understands the changes are similar to those adopted by the Hyundai i30N Fastback about a year after the i30N hot hatch went on sale in 2018.

In the preview material, Hyundai was yet to go into detail about the hardware and tuning changes to the steering and suspension.

Cabin highlights

As before, the BMW M-inspired analogue instrument cluster has a variable LED redline zone, which varies according to engine oil temperature. There is also a shift timing indicator, highlighting the best time to shift gear.

In Europe, the updated i30 N is available with a heated steering wheel and heated front seats; it’s unclear if these options will be offered locally.

The metal pedals and blue cabin stitching carry over from before, but the seatbelts now have “Performance Blue accents”.

The interior is still dominated by a sporty black theme. The front seats are a new, lighter design. A choice of cloth or artificial suede and leather trim remains.

The infotainment screen in the centre of the dash has been upgraded to a 10.25-inch design, and retains embedded navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Safety update

The updated Hyundai i30 N’s autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system has been upgraded to include pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, blind spot crash mitigation (which holds the steering if you’re about to move into an occupied lane), rear cross-traffic alert, and rear AEB to avoid revering over or into someone.

We will bring you more information on Australian versions of the 2021 Hyundai i30N as it comes to hand in the coming days.


Below: the i30 N hatch in its current form