Look closely. This is the new 2021 Hyundai i30 N Line Premium.
Unlike the regular Australian i30 hatch, the sportier number has not been updated externally. It's a product-sourcing issue, as the only Hyundai plant currently manufacturing facelifted i30 N Line hatchbacks is in the Czech Republic. Australian N Lines are sourced from Korea in order to keep the costs down.
The Korean plant is not set up to produce facelifted i30 N Lines, so we're stuck with the old look for the "foreseeable future", according to Hyundai. It's a shame, as the European version does look fantastic.
So, what is new?
Firstly, the offering has widened from three to four variants. The updated i30 N Line continues its two-pronged attack – offered in an entry version and the Premium, which we're testing today. New for 2021 is the introduction of a manual at the Premium level, which is offered alongside the usual dual-clutch automatic.
The prices are also up. The entry version costs $2410 more than it did previously, whereas our Premium automatic test car is up $630. That takes the list price for an i30 N Line Premium automatic, finished in white, up to $36,220, or approximately $40,000 on the road depending on which state you reside in. If you want one of the six colours other than white, add $495.
|2021 Hyundai i30 N Line Premium|
|Engine||1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged|
|Power and torque||150kW at 6000 rpm, 265Nm at 1500-4500rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.1L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||9.3L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||395L / 1301L|
|Turning circle||10.6 metres|
|ANCAP safety rating||5 Stars (tested 2017)|
|Warranty||5 years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3|
|Price as tested (before on roads)||$36,715|
Price rises haven't been for the sake of it, as specification has been improved inside and out. While its design hasn't changed, its headlights have, with the 2021 N Line Premium adopting the twin-projector items from the i30 N Performance hot hatch.
Understandably, our Aussie car doesn't look as sharp as the European version. That's not to say it looks dated, however, as it still scrubs up well. Hyundai did a stellar job designing the third-generation i30, and it's still paying dividends four years later. Its large mesh grille, high belt line and black accents all earn their keep to ensure it ages gracefully. Our N Line's specific, aggressively styled bumpers also add visual impact.
Internally, the major changes double when compared to the outside. Read through the sarcasm-slash-hyperbole, and you'll realise it means there are only two new things inside – a partly digital instrument cluster, and larger 10.25-inch centre infotainment screen.
I say 'partly' because the screen is still flanked by a large pair of analogue dials. It's more an enlargement of the regular trip computer screen, as seen in the previous i30 N Line Premium, than a digital instrument cluster. It isn't as polished nor as function-laden as the digital gauges found in Volkswagen Group products.
Still, it's better than what was there before. The other improvement, a 10.25-inch infotainment display, is much more substantial. Alongside the extra real estate comes a faster processor, which has decreased its boot time and response to input.
The widescreen layout also makes for easy map reading when using the in-built navigation system. There's also smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and in the case of CarPlay, it manages to integrate your smartphone's visuals in full screen to avoid letterboxing.
It's a big improvement on likely the most used area of a vehicle's cabin, excluding its controls. Thus, it helps improve first impressions despite being a single improvement point.
Everywhere else in the first row is as before. Storage is fantastic thanks to the deeply set covered area in the lower centre console, as well as a storage area underneath our car's dual-zone climate-control system, also with a cover.
Behind the second lid, you'll find a wireless charging pad, USB port, and 12-volt socket, too. Whatever you want to charge or add to your i30 (think dashcam), there's a power port for the ancillary.
Technology is as expected, with keyless entry and start, a seven-speaker premium stereo system, DAB+ radio, auto-dimming mirror, and panoramic sunroof all standard. The Infinity sound system is a big letdown sadly, coming across flat and muddy at best.
Switchgear has been arranged logically, with buttons for seat heating and cooling, both functions reserved exclusively for the N Line Premium, located around the gearshifter. Also in this area are two dedicated buttons relating to parking assist systems – one activating sensors, the other its rear-facing parking camera. Its control layout is smart, which makes the i30 easy to live with.
On the topic of seating, not only do you get leather sports seats as per N Line trim, but the Premium goes one further to introduce 10-way electrically adjustable items with two-way lumbar support. They're comfortable, well bolstered, and easy to clean in the case of children.
Sound ergonomics continue with the steering wheel, where another button array is also well thought out. Here you'll find one such switch reserved for turning off the lane-keeping assist system, should it bother you. Another small point, but it helps improve user-friendliness once again.
The downside to this cabin is its overall presentation, which is drab and full of the same consistently grained black plastic. Some diversity in material would've gone a long way.
You can't win ’em all, however, and I'd most certainly opt for function over form if I had to pick.
Moving into the second row, space is adequate. Behind a 183cm driver, a same-sized rear passenger will just be grazing their knees up against the seat ahead. The second-row seat bench itself is well proportioned and comfy, however, and there's a pair of air vents back there, too, but no power points of any kind.
It's also reasonably child-seat friendly. Installing a rearward-facing seat will cause the front passenger to lose leg room, but that's the norm in this class.
Forward-facing is much easier, and there's good space with regard to popping children in. With a single child support seat installed, there's just enough room for one other adult-sized passenger. With two child seats in, it's game over, as the middle seat becomes redundant.
The cargo area is fair, coming in at 395L with all seats up, and 1301L with the second row folded. Underneath the boot floor is a full-size spare wheel, making the i30 suitable for those who cover ground or live outside a metropolitan area.
And if that sounds like you, you're in for a treat. The i30 N Line Premium is an excellent performer in terms of ride and handling. Its localised suspension remains untouched, which is a good thing.
Around town, it's firm yet not busy. It'll bob over heavily pitted roads without fuss and remain composed. On the faster stuff outside of town, it's confidence-inspiring. At pace, you don't feel it getting away from you or reacting unexpectedly.
Consistency is the word I'm chasing. Steering feel is also great, well weighted, and loads up appropriately. I found it inspiring and keen to be pushed, which is pleasing. The i30 N Line Premium is a bona-fide warm hatch. A legitimate halfway point between pedestrian and sports, as it was in its previous iteration.
A sign of its sporty character is reflected in the standard fitment of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres on 18-inch wheels. No doubt that the inclusion of such rubber positively influences its behaviour, and helps a driver build confidence at higher speeds.
The engine is equal parts warm. A 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 150kW and 265Nm runs the show. In the case of our car, it's linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
I keep using the word warm, as that's fair. The engine itself is fairly flat-feeling, but thanks to the transmission it gets through the gears quickly, feeling punchy in turn.
The dual-clutch transmission can be caught out if you drive abruptly. For example, rolling up to an intersection and almost coming to a stop, then deciding to feed it a boot full, is met with hesitation. Also, reverse parallel parking up a slight incline can be tricky.
That sums up all of the dual-clutch nuances you'll find here. The N Line Premium is now offered with a manual, however, so consider being a traditionalist if such quirks don't sit well with you.
Overall, there's enough performance for most, but those wanting more should check out the mighty i30 N Performance instead.
In terms of driver-assist systems, Hyundai's SmartSense safety package is fitted as standard. It includes low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control for automatic models only. Blind-spot monitoring is not included, but given the decent-sized glasshouse, rear-quarter visibility is easy enough to live with.
In terms of fuel usage, the i30 N Line Premium used 9.3L/100km, which is a touch over two litres more than the official claim of 7.1L/100km. The majority of driving conducted skewed metro, where traffic is rife.
Maintaining one is a simple affair. Intervals are 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first, at a cost of $299 per visit. Total over five years? $1495. It's middle of the road, being cheaper than a Mazda 3 to maintain at $300+ per service, and more expensive than a Toyota Corolla at $180 per service.
Hyundai's i30 N Line Premium remains the composed, textbook warm hatch it always was, now with added extras. Given its near on $40K drive-away price sees it compete with European metal, particularly Volkswagen's new Golf Mk8 when it arrives, it may be wise for Hyundai to reconsider where it sources Australian stock from.