Sporty drive elevates humble small car

Hyundai has surprisingly been developing a reputation as a maker of driver-focused cars lately as it sheds its cheap and cheerful image, and its i30 N Line warm hatch gives a glimpse of the potential of its top flight i30N performance car.

Here are five things you need to know about the 2021 Hyundai i30 N Line.


As Big Brother sharpens his gaze on our speedometers, the i30 N-Line hatchback represents a sensible option for those who still enjoy driving. An oasis in a desert of boring city SUVs, the i30 N-Line stands out with sporty looks, a reasonable price tag and enough driving smarts to put a smile on your dial. While it’s sedate compared with Hyundai’s fire-breathing i30N, it has enough power to satisfy an enthusiast on a winding back road. The 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder puts out 150kW of power and 265Nm from a low 1500rpm — roughly the same as the Volkswagen Golf GTI of a decade ago. It also shares part of the appeal of the GTI in that it’s very easy to live with around town, absorbing bumps and potholes without jiggling the occupants unnecessarily.


Our test car was the cheaper version of the N-Line. A Premium version costs roughly $5000 more and adds a bigger touchscreen (10.25-inch instead of 8-inch), premium audio, a sunroof, satnav and heated and ventilated seats, with power adjustment for the driver. If it were my dollars, I’d save them, as the basic N-Line is no poverty pack. Hyundai have done a good job of keeping the price down while making the cabin feel suitably sporty. The seatbelts are red, there’s a nice chunky gear-shifter with red stitching and perforated leather, and the bolstered bucket seats also have splashes of red. Alloy pedals, N logos embossed on the seats and a flat-bottomed steering complete the look.


While the cabin is a little boy racer, the exterior design is understated. From behind, the only clues that this isn’t the garden variety model are a pair of twin exhausts nestled in the rear diffuser and a subtle black roof spoiler. At the side there are two small N-Line badges on the flanks, while 18-inch alloys wrapped in low-profile Michelin tyres give it a low-slung stance.


Purists can opt for a six-speed manual but the seven-speed dual-clutch auto is worth considering too. The gear changes are snappy yet smooth and you have the option of shifting manually via paddles. There can be a little hesitation in stop-and-go situations but most of the time the 1.6-litre turbo hooks up quickly, delivering smart if not rapid acceleration. Dial up sports mode and the throttle becomes more responsive, gears are held for longer and weight is added to the steering. The only thing missing is some acoustic theatrics — a pop on gear changes would add character. The steering is nicely weighted, the nose turns in obediently and there’s plenty of grip available through corners.


The 2021 N-Line is more expensive than last year’s model. To justify the price rise, Hyundai has added LED headlights, lane-keeping assistance and a new 7-inch digital screen in front of the driver, which changes colour when you select one of the three driving modes. Be sure to pack a USB cord with you when you drive it though, as Hyundai has quietly dropped the satellite navigation unit, hoping that buyers won’t mind using Google Maps through the smartphone mirroring function. The bad news is the RRP now starts at $29,420 for the manual, a $2410 rise over the previous model. Good news for auto buyers is that the dual-clutch model only went up by $1380 to $31,420. Drive-away, the manual starts is $33,110 and the auto $35,170.

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