27 Feb 2019

Hyundai i30 N Line 2019 Review

The South Korean brand is expanding its performance image
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“If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”

How many times did your mum or dad say that to you as a kid? Wanting to keep up with the cool kids, even if it’s a bad decision, is just human nature. And it seems the same rule applies to car makers.

These days, every car company is applying its performance brand to lesser models, in the hope that the halo effect rubs off on less-expensive variants. AMG packages are seemingly available for every Mercedes-Benz, and same goes with BMW M, Audi S-Line and Volkswagen R-Line.

So it seems natural that Hyundai would try to cash-in on the current excitement and critical praise for the i30 N hot-hatch by applying the same letter - and similar sporty overtones - to other models in the range.

Which is why the 2019 facelift of the i30 range sees the SR badge replaced by N-Line, bringing some of the same styling touches to the ‘regular’ i30 as it does to the new hot-hatch hero.

We’re testing the N-Line Premium, which sits just beneath the full-fat i30 N in the range.

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Is the Hyundai i30 N Line right for me?

Small cars remain popular, despite the continued rise of SUVs, because they appeal to a broad cross-section of drivers. The i30 N-Line Premium will have particular attraction to those wanting a warmed-up hatch with a punchy 150kW turbo engine, and as the ‘Premium’ name suggests, a car loaded with creature comforts.

What does the 2019 Hyundai i30 N Line cost?

Starting at $34,990 (plus on-road costs) the N-Line Premium finds the middle ground in the i30 range, sitting $5500 above the base i30 N-Line and $5000 below the standard i30 N.

That’s also competitively priced against its rivals, including the Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Highline (from $37,990), upcoming new-generation Mazda3 G25 Astina (from $36,990, due here in May) and Ford Focus Titanium (from $34,490).

But the N-Line Premium is more expensive that the closely related Kia Cerato GT, which costs just $32,510 drive-away (with metallic paint) for similar equipment levels.

What is the Hyundai i30 interior like?

Ironically the N-Line has a nicer cabin than the i30 N itself. While the hot hatch gets a unique steering wheel and seats, the N-Line gets its own N-branded tiller, leather-trimmed sports seats and various red highlights around the cabin, include anodised elements around the air vents and red seatbelts that give more pop to the cabin that both the lower-grade i30 Active and the i30 N itself.

The sports seats offer good support and excellent comfort thanks to supple cushioning. They’re also both heated and ventilated and the driver gets 10-way power adjustment.

There’s also a panoramic sunroof as standard to shed more light on the interior, if you’re in the mood.

How much space does the Hyundai i30 N Line have?

It’s not the roomiest small car, but there’s still adequate headroom and kneeroom for adults. The rear bench is actually very comfortable, offering excellent support and good padding. There’s also plenty of storage throughout the cabin, particularly in the back where there are cupholders in the centre armrest, bottle holders in the doors and seat-back netting on both front seats.

The boot has a generous 395 litres of cargo space and a nice wide, flat load area.

What's the Hyundai i30 N Line's tech like?

Befitting its position as the top-shelf model in the regular range, the N-Line Premium comes loaded with technology. It features the South Korean brand’s latest infotainment system that’s displayed on an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

It boasts an easy-to-navigate menu and incorporates navigation (with live traffic updates and speed camera alerts), Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, digital radio and Bluetooth. It’s linked to a seven-speaker Infinity premium sound system with plenty of grunt.

The N-Line Premium also features a wireless smartphone charging pad for an extra layer of convenience.

How reliable is the 2019 Hyundai i30 N Line?

Hyundai has a solid reputation for reliability, however our only concern would be over the long-term durability of the dual-clutch automatic transmission. Yet Hyundai and sister-brand Kia appear to have avoided any of the significant trouble that has affected older Ford and Volkswagen dual-clutch ’boxes, at least up to this point.

How safe is the Hyundai i30 N Line?

Hyundai has been ramping up safety across its range in recent years with its SmartSense suite of active safety features. That means the N-Line Premium comes standard with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

There’s also seven airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

What is the Hyundai i30 N Line's warranty like?

Like all Hyundais, the i30 N-Line Premium is backed by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

What are the on-going costs for the Hyundai i30 N Line?

Lifetime capped-price servicing applies to all current Hyundai models. For the i30, service intervals are every 12 months/10,000km, which is a shorter mileage gap than most of its small car rivals. The first three years will cost you $807.

Is the 2019 Hyundai i30 N Line value for money?

That’s an easy question to answer. The level of standard equipment - especially the luxury touches such as the heated and ventilated leather seats, wireless charging pad and sunroof - plus the N-Line extras make this warm hatch a great-value small car. It offers a premium experience (pardon the pun) at a mainstream price.

What's under the Hyundai i30 N Line's bonnet?

While it may miss out on the potent 2.0-litre turbo in the i30 N, the N-Line does get a fiesty 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Carried over from the previous i30 SR, its 150kW and 265Nm are above-average outputs for a small car, putting it into ‘warm hatch’ territory.

Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, it feels sporty on the road, giving it a character that suits its N-Line image.

The warm i30 has good punch off-the-mark and pulls strongly through the mid-range, which makes it feel a step-above its peers, such as the Ford Focus ST-Line and Volkswagen Golf 110TSI.

The gearbox could do with more refinement, however, with the noticeable hesitation at low speeds and the occasional clunky shift.

How much fuel does the Hyundai i30 N Line use?

Officially rated at 7.1L/100km, the N-Line isn’t a fuel-miser, but neither is it a gas-guzzler. It’s a solid return for the performance it offers and fits neatly within the broader i30 range. If fuel economy is your priority, the turbo-diesel models are for you.

What's it like to drive the Hyundai i30 N Line?

The warm hatch concept has been a popular one in recent years as more and more small cars pack punchier turbocharged engines. Hyundai hasn’t just given under the bonnet a boost though, it has given the N-Line an holistic upgrade.

It gets a unique sports suspension tune and the new-design 18-inch alloys are wrapped in fancy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. Coupled with the local tuning program, the end results of this high-quality hardware is a sharp small car.

It’s not as engaging or as quick as the full-blown i30 N but it’s a fast and fun hatch. The steering offers meaningful weight and good feedback to the driver.

The suspension is tauter than your average small car, which is to be expected, and while that means a firmer ride, it translates to flatter cornering and better responsiveness and control.

How does the 2019 Hyundai i30 N Line compare to the competition?

The most direct rival is its twin-under-the-skin, the Kia Cerato GT, which is priced from $31,990 drive-away. Both cars share the same suspension hardware and powertrain, but there are some specification differences between them that may swing your favour.

The Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Highline is the range-topping option in the German brand’s line-up, but at $37,990 it’s slightly more expensive and is more biased towards comfort rather than the N-Line’s overt sportiness.

The high-grade Ford Focus Titanium arrives at the end of March, so we haven’t driven it locally yet, but it will be priced from $34,490 and is set to be loaded with N-Line Premium-matching equipment.

The same is true for the upcoming fourth-generation Mazda3, which arrives here in May.

Drive's Verdict

Hyundai may have jumped off the proverbial bridge by adding its performance branding to more mainstream models in the range, but the end result is hard to argue with. This is a small car that has both luxury and driving engagement at its core, so for those willing to spend the money, they’ll be rewarded with an impressive machine.

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