2024 Hyundai i30 N sedan new car review

Barrelling into Winton Raceway’s turn one left-hander, Hyundai’s latest “N” car doesn’t disappoint – it’s rapid, agile, noisy and damn good fun.

The revised i30 N sedan is more about marginal gains rather than revolution, which is understandable because the formula didn’t need much improvement.

Along with its hatchback stablemate, it burst on the scene late last decade and immediately shaded legends of the field, including the VW Golf GTI and Subaru WRX.

For 2024 there’s revised styling, new technology and an even more focused go-faster chassis. There’s also the inevitable price hike – up $1800 to $52,000 before on-roads – but it still feels impressive value considering the standard equipment and smiles-per-dollar the drive brings.

That includes at the racetrack. Hyundai wants customers to explore their N cars’ abilities and the warranty even covers non-timed track days, which has helped the i30 N build a cult following among enthusiasts.

Burbling away in the pit lane, the updated i30 N sedan’s polarising styling’s been slightly massaged with a lower and wider front grille, larger rear bumper, a red strip wrapped around the base of the car and new-design lighter 19-inch alloys. It still looks a bit weird, though.

It’s at its most menacing in its signature Performance Blue paint scheme with black rims and bright red brake calipers. From the rear, its sharp, cosmic styling looks less droopy than non-N i30 sedans thanks to giant twin exhaust exits and a boot-mounted wing.

If the looks aren’t to your taste, the drive experience helps you forget. Hyundai’s added “motorsport-derived upgrades” so you can bore your mates with details about the reinforced engine mount membrane (reducing vibration and increasing agility), new bushings for improved damping, plus body control-enhancing hardware and software tweaks to its electronically controlled suspension.

It’s a very easy car to drive fast, a performance car that’s on your side. It wants you to go faster, brake later and turn into a corner more precisely.

Above all, it wants to show you a good time. Hit the steering wheel’s N button and everything gets racier: the engine response and note, the steering, damping, traction control and gear shifts. That’s if you pick the rapid cog-swapping 8-speed DCT auto, although purists will prefer the no-cost option of a six-speed manual for welcome involvement. It’s difficult to pick the chassis upgrades on track, as the i30 N’s just as brilliant as ever. Outstanding grip and balance bring confidence to launch it into turns; the exhaust pops and crackles away and there’s lovely natural-feel feedback through its chunky steering wheel. The front electronic limited-slip differential effortlessly sucks you into a corner apex, making even ordinary drivers look good.

It feels easier to slide around and drive fast than the more compact i30N hatch. The sedan’s longer wheelbase is more forgiving, giving more time to respond to the feedback, while the shorter five-door’s a bit spikier.

The engine’s unchanged; a 206kW/392Nm 2.0-litre turbo that’s not head-spinning quick but rich in character. Hitting 100km/h in a whisker more than five seconds, it is plenty rapid.

Positively, when you want composure and comfort on the everyday mundane drive, it is more forgiving than the i30N hatch. It proves docile in town and cruises well on smooth highways, although no radar cruise control is a criminal oversight.

The cabin’s no-nonsense rather than spectacular, but more user-friendly than the likes of a Golf GTI, especially with its simple buttons for climate.

Dual 10.25-inch displays, leather trim, Bose audio, power climate seats and fun-bringing ‘N’ steering wheel buttons add up to strong value, while a larger wireless charging pad, three USB-C ports and Bluelink app functions and services are welcome additions.

Safety’s a rare black mark. There’s no ANCAP rating (and no plans to crash test it) and while the active safety kit is comprehensive, speed limit warning and lane-keep assist are overly eager and must be turned off for a relaxed drive.

As accomplished as this car is, there’s room for a more mongrel version. Hyundai could drop some cabin luxuries, add some lightweight parts and offer a real no-frills driver’s special. It’d only help the N legend grow before petrol cars are legislated out of existence.

VERDICT 4/5

Chassis enhancements improve the on-limit drive and it remains the most thrilling affordable hot sedan you can buy.

HYUNDAI i30 N SEDAN

PRICE: About $56,800 drive-away

ENGINE: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 206kW/392Nm

THIRST: 8.3-8.5L/100km

WARRANTY/SERVICE: 5 years/unlimited km, $1795 for five services/50,000km

SAFETY: 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-spot assist, driver attention warning, speed limit assist, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, rear occupant alert

LUGGAGE: 464 litres

SPARE: Space saver

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