TRACK TEST: Hyundai i30 Sedan N (long-term review)

A different shade of blue: We borrowed a ‘Performance Blue’ Hyundai i30 Sedan N for the 2022 N Festival at The Bend while our ‘Intense Blue’ version stayed in Sydney

What: Hyundai i30 Sedan N
Where: The Bend, South Australia
Conditions: Mixed, overcast

What is it?

We’ve been living with ‘our’ i30 Sedan N for the last few months and one of the perks of being the owner of a Hyundai N model is you’re invited to the annual N Festival hosted by Hyundai Australia.

While we were attending the N Festival in our official capacity (we were able to Track Test the RN22e Rolling Lab electric prototype), it gave us an opportunity to experience the event through the eye of an owner.

ROAD TEST: Road-tripping to Bathurst in the Hyundai i30 Sedan N

Full disclosure, the logistics of taking ‘our’ Intense Blue example to South Australia proved too difficult so we had to borrow Hyundai Australia’s other i30 Sedan N. But given they are the same specification, any comparison between theirs and ours are valid.

Why does it deserve a track test?

The Hyundai N Festival encourages customers to get their N model on track

Hyundai built its N Performance division with the racetrack in mind. It quite openly says it wants all of its cars to be track-capable ‘corner rascals’ and actively encourages owners to take them onto circuits around the country.

READ MORE: Why we’re living with a Hyundai i30 Sedan N

How so? Well, the N Festival is the biggest but not the only track day the company runs. Owners are regularly invited to events at circuit days to experience the full potential of their cars in a safe environment.

Hyundai Australia also covers all non-competitive track use under its warranty. So if anything goes wrong on the circuit you can rest easy that the company will get it fixed.

What’s it like inside?

2022 Hyundai i30 Sedan N

It’s a sporty, driver focused cabin. The console is angled towards and almost wraps around the driver with all the key controls you need for the track falling easily to hand.

The thick-rimmed steering wheel comes with a pair of ‘N’ buttons to adjust the drive mode settings on the fly and a large red ‘NGS’ button for the so-called N Grin Shift function, which offers a burst of acceleration on gear shifts by overboosting the turbo.

ROAD TEST: 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N review

There’s also a pair of 10.2-inch screens – one for the instrument panel and one in the central infotainment functions, which features the Performance Driving Data system that includes the Track Maps and live telemetry from the car. Hyundai Australia is mapping circuits all around the country and adding them at service intervals so you can time your laps using GPS rather than a stopwatch.

How’s it go down the straights?

Hyundai i30 Sedan N at the 2022 N Festival

The i30 Sedan N is powered by Hyundai’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque. It also features what Hyundai calls its ‘flat-power tune’ which is designed to deliver torque more broadly across the rev range so it feels stronger and more consistent under full throttle.

TRACK TEST: 2022 Hyundai i30 N

The engine is paired to a eight-speed dual-clutch transmission – or N-DCT as the brand prefers to call it. It offers rapid shifts either automated or via the steering wheel-mounted paddles and Hyundai’s N engineers went to extra lengths to make this gearbox stand-out from the crowd. It features three special modes – N Grin Shift, N Power Shift and N Track Sense Shift.

Grin Shift is activated by a large red button on the steering wheel and offers a 20 second burst of maximum performance. Power Shift kicks in at 90 per cent throttle to reduce power loss when upshifting. Last, but not least, Track Sense engages the more responsive ‘Sport’ transmission setting automatically if it senses racetrack-like conditions.

We’ve used N Grin Shift before and it does provide a kick of power when you pull the next gear under acceleration. But honestly, we didn’t really use any of these modes on the track because just the standard manual shifts offer exactly what you need to get the best out of the i30 Sedan N on the track.

It pulled hard down The Bend’s long straight, running to almost 200km/h before he hit the brakes for turn one. It feels strong and consistent thanks to the flat-power tune, without any hesitation even as you approach V-max.

What’s it like in the bends?

Hyundai i30 Sedan N at the 2022 N Festival

While it shares the name with the brand’s hot hatch, the i30 Sedan N is actually on a newer evolution of Hyundai’s small car platform and that translates to a different driving experience, especially on the track.

Whereas the i30 N hatch feels more playful and will slide around when you push it through the turns, the sedan feels more balanced and planted. Which also means it feels faster and inspires more confidence.

That’s not to say the sedan is better than the hatch, simply point out the differences because some may prefer the character of the hatch, while others will choose the extra poise of the sedan.

The sedan is a fantastic track car though and the N Festival is a great way for owners to experience their car on the limit in a safe and friendly environment. Hyundai has technicians on hand so you can ask questions and understand your car better, while there are also vendors if you need any new tyres, safety equipment or other ‘go-fast’ bits.

The fact the company openly encourages owners to push the cars to the limit over and over again is a testament to the strength of these Hyundai N models. As long as you do the typical warm-up and cool-down procedures we had no trouble with fading brakes or over-heating engines, while the standard Michelin tyres were consistent throughout a day of hard track use.

Is it a front-runner or backmarker?

Hyundai has technicans on-hand at the N Festival to help you get the most from your car – or learn more about its TCR i30 Sedan N

The i30 Sedan N is definitely one of the better affordable performance cars on the market today. For those looking for an alternative to a hot hatch but with equivalent performance it does a fantastic job.

Looking at it purely as a track day car it ticks a lot of boxes – it’s quick enough to have fun, reliable enough to drive all day and then safely home and comes backed up by Hyundai’s warranty.

2023 Hyundai i30 Sedan N price and specifications

Price: From $50,200 plus on-road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 206kW at 5500-6000rpm
Torque: 392Nm at 2100-4700rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
Fuel use: 8.2L/100km
Wheels: 19-inch alloys
Tyres: 245/40 R19
Length: 4675mm
Width: 1825mm
Height: 1415mm
Weight: 1480kg
0-100km/h: 5.5 seconds (claimed)

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