The 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan proved that affordable small sedans don’t have to be boring, blending practicality and space with edgy styling. Now we get to spend some time with the sporty variant – the 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N Line.
Small sedans are an interesting case study in Australia. And more recently, in the case of the Mazda 3 and the i30, the sedan is generally considered as the more attractive design execution. Not everyone agrees of course, but plenty think both examples have trumped the hatchback variant.
Further, despite the rush to SUVs – which has been well documented – small sedans continue to tick along in a sales sense, justifying their existence. In the case of the N Line sedan we’re testing here, through January and February of this year, Hyundai tells us it’s been incredibly popular with advance orders.
It certainly looks the part – and that’s the case from any angle: front three-quarter, rear three-quarter, side on, the light signatures ... The body lines and silhouette look stylish, premium, and anything but boring. We love the DRL signatures front and rear, and on our test drive our in regional NSW, plenty of punters wanted to stop to have a chat or ask what it was we were driving.
As we always say though, style is only part of the equation. Interestingly, sporty sedans or sporty variants thereof, have been selling pretty well in Australia. Cerato GT, Stinger, WRX and Octavia RS found homes in more than 2700 private driveways in 2020, so while the numbers aren’t huge, they are encouraging. Of the more than 62,000 total sedan sales overall in 2020, around half went to private buyers.
You can read our pricing and specification guide for the full details, but there’s a bit to dissect with the i30 Sedan N Line. You can get a manual and automatic, and then a Premium variant with the automatic transmission. Pricing – before on-road costs – is $30,290 for the manual, $32,290 for the auto and $37,290 for the Premium automatic.
|2021 Hyundai Sedan N Line|
|Engine||1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power and torque||150kW @ 6000rpm, 265Nm @ 1500–4500rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.8L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||8.0L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up/down)||474L/NA|
|ANCAP safety rating (year tested)||Untested|
|Warranty||5 years/unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Mazda 3 G25, Corolla ZR, Kia Cerato GT|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$37,290|
While the base manual feels like a quality offering, the Premium is the variant to have if your budget stretches that far. Premium grade adds a 10.25-inch high-definition touchscreen (beyond the 8.0-inch standard screen), with multiple Bluetooth connectivity, a Bose Premium audio system, DAB+, 10.25-inch digital driver’s cluster, rear parking collision avoidance, front parking sensors, 10-way power driver’s seat, sunroof, electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, solar control glass, heated and ventilated front seats and sun visor extenders.
A look at the base manual at launch revealed a car that will almost certainly be the enthusiast’s choice, but also one that feels like good value for money, despite the fact that the Premium gets more standard kit. The step up to Premium is noticeable though, especially the higher-quality infotainment interface. If you’re more interested in the driving though, save your dough and get a base model manual.
There’s so much space inside the i30 Sedan – in the front or rear seats – that you struggle to find an argument to move up a segment if a buyer is considering the two. Even with tall occupants up front, there’s room for adults in the second row, and the boot is useful also offering 474 litres of storage space.
The heated and cooled front seats are beautifully trimmed, supportive and comfortable. A wide range of adjustment means it’s easy to get comfortable, and visibility remains solid no matter how far you move away from the dash. Despite the swooping roofline, rear visibility is also good. We liked the fact that the contour of the seats matched the sporty nature of the car without being overly sculpted and uncomfortable.
As is the case with every Hyundai we test, the infotainment system and the interaction between it and the driver, is excellent. Smartphone mirroring, music streaming, calls and voice to text, all worked perfectly for us on test, and the Premium’s high-definition screen is visible in any light, even at the brightest point of the day.
The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine is peppy, willing to rev, and smooth as it does so as well. Internally, Hyundai calls it a SmartStream G1.6 T-GDi, but let’s just call it a 1.6-litre turbo shall we… It makes 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm between 1500-4500rpm. The manual gearbox is a six-speed, and the auto option is a seven-speed DCT with paddle-shift sequential manual mode.
The engine, as soon as you lean on it even gently, has a sporty burble and a thrum that hints at some of the performance lurking under the bonnet. It revs cleanly out to its 6000rpm peak power delivery, utterly unfussed. The DCT, which has the slightest of hesitations at crawling speed, is sharp and responsive as the revs rise.
In short, the i30 Sedan N Line is a car that encourages you to have some fun and enjoy your drive. Acceleration is snappy without being ridiculous – 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds for the manual and 7.6 seconds for the DCT.
That very slight hesitation at low speed is the only thing the DCT does that is even remotely different to a conventional torque converter automatic, and its response, precision and snappy changes on the move more than make up for it. Is the N Line a sporty sedan you can easily live with day-to-day? Unequivocally yes. Against an ADR-claimed 6.8L/100km on the combined cycle, we saw an indicated 8.0L/100km after some prolonged enthusiastic driving. Not bad considering we had some fun on country back roads.
To that point, the suspension and chassis response is excellent. Once again, Hyundai engineers have developed an Australian specification suspension tune that gets the most out of the multi-link rear-end especially. It’s a quality platform in that the regular i30 sedan is neatly tied down, but the N Line feels well-tailored to Australian conditions, as you’d expect.
The steering is direct and responsive, but it’s also balanced and not too sharp. Turn in, on tight twisty backroads, is balanced and the chassis isn’t easily unsettled by mid corner ruts. We only experienced a bottom-out once despite a good few hours running on poorly surfaced back roads. Even then, the steering wheel didn’t do anything strange in response. If the suspension does take a hit, it settles quickly. We’re looking forward to spending some more time with the N Line post-launch to further explore its capability.
The i30 Sedan N Line is covered by Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a capped-price service schedule every 10,000km. Those services cost just $299 each across the first five years, making the ownership calculations attractive, even if the distance interval isn't as long as some competitors.
The fact that the N Line is as good to drive as it is, comes as no real surprise. Hyundai has shown with the i30 N that it understands what is required in a sporting variant of a small car. Add to that, the inherent quality of the sedan platform and you’ve got a heady mixture for success. Whether sales will stay solid, climb or tail off is hard to predict in an SUV-crazed market, but one thing’s for sure: the i30 Sedan N Line is an affordable and fun small sports sedan.