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A Night At The Opera: Hyundai i30N Series II DCT Review

Almost 3 years after we reviewed the original Hyundai i30N, it’s excellent to see that a follow-up act has arrived. At a time when many manufacturers are culling their performance offerings, Hyundai is doubling down! When the i30N first hit the streets many moons ago, it was the only ‘N’ branded car and was only available with a manual transmission. Fast forward to 2022 and the i30N has been joined by the Fastback, Kona N, i20N, Veloster N and Elantra N. Better still, it’s also available with a dual clutch transmission (DCT), an offering which Hyundai predicts will make up 70-80% of i30N orders. With the preface done, I invite you to sit back and enjoy the show!

Today’s topic is the opera, an art form which is attended by two types of people. Those that are operatic enthusiasts and those that just want a treat. I suspect Hyundai’s Series II i30N will have a similar type of clientele. Those that have been following the N brand since its inception and those that just like the appeal of the car. No qualms about either.

These shows are generally made up of a few parts, the venue itself makes up the experience as well as theatre setting and of course the music! For the purpose of this review, I will put this experience into the context of the i30N.

Close-up of the N badge on the new Hyundai i30N Series II DCT
Once an unknown badge, not anymore!

Now that the N division has been around for a few years, the brand is starting to create a legacy of its own. There’s a very strong performance bend to their cars with the technology developed and tested on the track. It has become a highly respectable badge in a very short time. All while making sure their cars are not too serious! Right, so the playwright is a well known one.

Birds eye view of the new Hyundai i30N Series II DCT in Performance Blue
Eye-catching from all angles

Now to the venue or the actual exterior of the car. It is dramatic to say the least. Starting with the colour, that Performance Blue offers a lovely contrast to the dull grey and black SUVs of the city. It certainly attracts the eyes of many onlookers and rightly so. I for one am all for colour, the human eye can see so many shades of it that it’s almost a waste not to pick a good tone for your car when the opportunity arises. The i30N has a few of them on offer with ‘Sunset Red’ & ‘Engine Red’ being my picks aside from the blue.

A colour as dramatic as this deserves a design that will compliment it and the i30N does so extremely well. The body itself features flares and lines that separate it from the standard i30 without making you look like too much of a boy racer. The gloss black plastic inserts break up the colour well with the rear double spoiler being my favourite, that triangular taillight just looks right on there!

LED taillights on the new Hyundai i30N Series II DCT
Cosmetically, the LED lights mark the biggest change

At this point, you may be wondering what actually separates the Series II model from the Series I? Well, there isn’t much on the outside. The biggest difference is the addition of LED headlights and taillights. Set in a sort of V shape, the lights help accentuate the design of the car. There’s a few additions in the form of stronger lines which makes the newer model look slightly more aggressive. However, the major changes with this Series II model are on the inside so with the venue evaluated, let’s make our way inside and onto the seating!

Interior of the Hyundai i30N Series II DCT
Blue is very much the performance colour here

Speaking of the seats, they are comfortable leather and alcantara units with the N badge embossed into the backrests. They could do with a little more side bolstering as this car corners hard! While the exterior is colourful and dramatic, the same story doesn’t translate to the inside. Take a look around and you are greeted with a sea of black plastics. Especially on the passenger side and at the rear where a few coloured inserts wouldn’t have gone amiss. Then again, that could just be Hyundai’s way of showing you that the place the be in this car is behind the wheel!

What a place it is! The cabin is lit in blue with the steering featuring two blue buttons for the full N experience. One to change driving modes with the other to shortcut directly to race mode. There’s also a tiny buttons that says ‘NGS’ or N Grin Shift which is where the car gives you max power for about 20 seconds. Another new addition is Hyundai’s new infotainment screen which gives you easy access to all the essential tech stuff and the ‘N mode’ shortcut of course. There you can see lap times, g-force and turbo pressure. All key metrics for your daily commute! The setting for this opera is a little bit of a hit and miss then. How about the music?

Front three quarters view of the new Hyundai i30N Series II DCT
It is as dramatic to look at as it is to drive

Let’s just say that the last time I attended an opera, I fell asleep towards the end. It was ‘Phantom of the Opera’ as well which makes it the most expensive snooze I’ve ever had! Safe to say that I won’t be falling asleep at the wheel of the i30N. Best described as “entertaining” to drive, the i30N keeps you grinning from ear to ear with its orchestrated soundtrack. It’s pops & crackles galore as you accelerate and let off the throttle only to hear that sonorous backfire. Who knew a factory exhaust could sound like this! Think about all the best opera crescendos mixed together and then you will start to get and idea of the noise this car makes. Turbo whooshes, dual clutch burps and more. This is a piece of music composed by the Gods of driving heaven. Even in ‘ECO’ mode, the i30N doesn’t subdue itself just to please government departments. Instead that 2 litre GDI engine just roars a little quieter but dial it up to ‘RACE’ mode and you have a treat on your hands.

You really need to hold on tight as 205kW of savagery is delivered to the front wheels, torque steer and all. That’s the biggest draw of the i30N is just how much of fun it is to drive. Make no mistake, it’s still lightning quick with a 0-100 time of less than 6s and the ability to leave most things in the dust around the corners but there’s more to it than just the figures. The raucous exhaust, torque steer and more help add to its appeal. I especially liked that direct feel of the steering, there are few cars that are this sharp turning into corners. Then there’s the 8-speed dual clutch gearbox that retains the character of the original i30N but makes for an easier commute now. In saying that, I spent the whole week driving this car in manual mode just because of how much fun I was having!

Rear three quarter shot of the Hyundai i30N Series II DCT
Red and blue work well to add a bit of N flavour

The Verdict

To be completely honest, there are few cars that are as entertaining to drive as the Hyundai i30N. It’s dramatic styling, theatrical exhaust and performance credentials make it a superb all-round offering. A package made even more alluring when you add to the fact that the i30N can still carry a family and their shopping around with no trouble. I was really looking forward to driving this DCT model and was not disappointed in the slightest. In Hyundai’s ever expanding ‘N’ show, the i30 is still the star performer!

2022 Hyundai i30N Series II DCT: 4.5/5

Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza

Car courtesy of Hyundai Motors New Zealand

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