Hyundai i30 N Review
The Hyundai i30 N is great to drive, well equipped and good value for money
Strengths & weaknesses
The Hyundai i30 N is the Korean brand’s equivalent to the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the Ford Focus ST: it’s a fast, fun and exciting hatchback that mixes sports car thrills with the practicality of a normal family car.
Hot hatchbacks like the i30 N are really popular in the UK - our twisty country roads mean that we love cars that are fun to drive but also practical enough to work as an everyday car. The i30 N is brilliant at this dual-purpose role, as it’s based on the sensible i30 model but has lots of tweaks that make it a lot of fun to drive.
There’s a normal hatchback five-door model but also a ‘Fastback’ version that looks more like a saloon car, if you prefer that. There are manual and automatic versions too, and if you are buying used there are two power outputs: 250hp and 280hp. The latter is called the i30 N Performance, and it’s the only one available to buy brand new right now, as Hyundai discontinued the regular version in the UK.
Performance is excellent - 0-62mph takes around six seconds - and the manual gearbox is a delight to use. The auto version is good too, but we prefer the manual in terms of fun. The i30 N has loads of driving modes to choose from, so you can switch from comfortable (ish) and quiet to darty and noisy at the touch of a button.
It’s better to drive than a VW Golf GTI but not quite as fun as a Honda Civic Type R, yet it’s better value for money than either of them. There’s loads of standard kit, a roomy interior and the engine is even relatively efficient if you’re not driving it hard.
Read on to find out more about the Hyundai i30 N and see if it’s right for you.
Should I get a Hyundai i30 N?
✔ Loads of fun to drive
✔ Lots of standard kit
✔ Great value for money
✘ Not as exciting as some rivals
✘ Plain-looking cabin
✘ A bit uncomfortable on bumpy roads
The Hyundai i30 N is one of the best hot hatchbacks you can buy right now. It’s really fun to drive, which is of course important for a sporty car, but it also does everything else well at the same time: it’s roomy inside, well equipped and good value.
It’s not as sharp to drive as some other models, but most will be more than happy with the performance of the i30 N. A sticking point might be the comfort, though, as it’s only just about acceptable in its comfort setting and much too stiff in its sporty driving mode. It’s not ideal if you live somewhere with lots of bumpy roads.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best i30 N for
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
Hyundai i30 N
The Hyundai i30 N is a family hatchback, and it’s about the same size as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. That means it has four side doors and one hatchback boot door. It looks sportier than a normal i30, and it’s lower, has stiffer suspension and sportier seats as well.
All versions use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, though some examples have 250hp and others have 280hp. Hyundai has stopped selling the lower-power version, but you can still find them used. Most people went for the more powerful i30 N Performance model, which is still available from new. There are automatic and manual gearbox options.
Hyundai i30 N Fastback
There’s another option in the range for those who want something that looks a bit different. The i30 N Fastback has more of a saloon shape, though it’s technically still a hatchback because the back door is a hatch - the window also raises up to make a huge opening. It’s a rival for the Skoda Octavia vRS, which also has a large boot door. The Fastback is a tiny bit more comfortable and practical than the hatchback version, but not by very much - so we’d only choose it if you prefer the styling.
|Limited stock: The i30 N came in two forms, and the basic version had 250hp and a manual gearbox as standard. Adaptive suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels were standard, but to get this version you will have to look to the used market.
|Limited stock: Most i30 N models are the ‘Performance’ version, which has 280hp and other tech such as a switchable exhaust, a limited-slip differential (for more grip in corners) and 19-inch alloys.
Although the 250hp model wasn’t a big seller, and the 280hp version is a little faster, you should buy whichever model you want. There’s still plenty of performance available in the ‘lesser’ model, and it’s a bit easier to have fun without breaking the speed limit.
However, the 280hp model’s extra kit such as the switchable exhaust mean that it’s a bit more fun to drive. The louder setting for the exhaust is fun and you can always switch it off if you are feeling anti-social, plus this model is quicker in corners thanks to the limited-slip differential.
There aren’t many choices in the i30 N range but here are our picks for a variety of situations. You can’t go far wrong with any version of the i30 N, so while we would usually pick out a model to avoid, we haven’t done so here.
|Hyundai i30 N manual: The entry-level model is good value, and since most buyers want the more powerful engine, you can save by choosing this version. It’s still really fast and fun to drive.
|Hyundai i30 N Fastback DCT: The slightly larger, smoother and more spacious Fastback version is good for families. Pick the automatic ‘DCT’ gearbox if you are likely to drive in traffic a lot.
|Hyundai i30 N Performance manual: The best version for thrills is the Performance model. It has 280hp and extra equipment to make it more fun to drive, plus we’ve picked the manual version because it’s really fun to use.
BuyaCar prices Limited stock
BuyaCar prices Limited stock
BuyaCar prices Limited stock
The Hyundai i30 N is a hot hatch, so there are plenty of rivals to consider. A key one is the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which is more practical and sensible but not quite as much fun as the i30 N. The Honda Civic Type R is another - it’s more practical, faster and more fun to drive than the Hyundai but its bold looks aren’t for everyone.
Then there’s the excellent Ford Focus ST, which has a great balance of abilities, and the practical Skoda Octavia vRS, which is closer to the i30 N Fastback in concept. Other used hot hatchbacks to consider include the Renault Megane R.S., BMW M135i and Peugeot 308 GTi.
Hyundai i30 N practicality: dimensions and boot space
The Hyundai i30 N is about 4.3m long, 1.8m wide and 1.45mm tall, so it’s really similar to the normal i30 in dimensions. You can read more about its size and shape in our dedicated dimensions article here.
This makes it shorter than a Civic Type R but a bit bigger than a Golf GTI. It’s roomy inside, with lots of headroom and legroom for passengers, although shoulder room isn’t as good as its rivals and the form ride makes it a bit bouncy on bumpy roads.
|Length 4,340mm - 4,455mm
|Height 1,445mm - 1,419mm
|Weight 1,419kg - 1,554kg
The i30 N has a 381-litre boot with the rear seats up, which is a good size - it’s the same as a Golf GTI, though not quite as big as a Civic Type R. Unfortunately there’s a strengthening bar that runs across the boot floor that restricts its usefulness for large and bulky items like cardboard boxes.
With the rear seats folded down there’s 1,287 litres of space, which again is decent but the bar across the floor definitely gets in the way of practicality.
|Seats up 381-436 litres
|Seats down 1,287-1,337 litres
The Hyundai i30 N is likely to be a reliable choice. Hyundai’s long warranty (see below) means that you have peace of mind if anything were to go wrong, but it also shows how confident the maker is about the dependability of all its cars, including the high-performance versions.
The i30 N does not appear in the Driver Power customer satisfaction surveys but the brand finished 16th out of 29 car makers in the 2021 poll and one of its cars, the Kona SUV, came in first place overall.
The Hyundai i30 N has a five-year warranty as standard, which is the same as every other Hyundai model. Any car under five years old will still have warranty left over because there’s no mileage limit at all, which is great news for used buyers and people buying a new car to keep (rather than move on after three years, as many people do).
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £577
The short answer is yes, because the Hyundai i30 N is a fantastic hot hatch. It’s great value for money, a lot of fun to drive, practical, and should be reliable. It’s not the most well-known name - most people have heard of a Golf GTI, but not the N brand - but the Hyundai is very much a thinking person’s sporty hatchback.
It’s not the most comfortable choice, and the Honda Civic Type R, Renault Megane R.S. and Ford Focus ST are all slightly more fun to drive. They’re also more expensive, though, and the Hyundai is a very enjoyable car to drive every day. It has great technology and should be relatively affordable to run, too.
The entry-level i30 N is a top choice because most people want the more powerful version, so will pay more for it. With the 250hp model you’ve got loads of performance at a lower price, though it’s a shame you miss out on the switchable exhaust on the Performance model.
The Fastback model is slightly more comfortable, and since it’s available with an automatic gearbox, this version makes more sense if you have a family or are simply planning to commute to work in traffic.
The i30 N Performance is the 280hp model and it’s the fastest and most fun to drive. The manual gearbox is a delight to use, the engine sounds great with the louder exhaust and it’s brilliant on twisty roads.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example
|APR rates available
|Cash price £12,000
|Value of loan
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12
|Annual mileage of 8,000pa
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55
|Term 48 months
|Optional final payment £4,285.79
|Loan value £12,000
|Total amount payable £14,755.55
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.
Practical, reliable and stylish, at the right price the Hyundai i30 is also a top-value family hatchback
It still has a five-year warranty but the Hyundai i30 is no longer a budget family hatchback