This is the 2021 Hyundai i30 Sedan N Line Premium – and it’s quite striking, isn’t it?
For most readers, the term “i30 Sedan” may be a bit foreign. Isn’t the i30 meant to be a sedan? In Australia, and in most other markets, the i30 is indeed sold as a sedan but Down Under, it has also been sold as a sedan since the second half of last year. Don’t let the name fool you, however; the i30 sedan is exactly the same as the Elantra you are probably more familiar with – a name that was used in Australia for the previous generation but has since been dropped.
A bold design
So what exactly does the Hyundai i30 Sedan offer? Well, aside from being a very convincing vehicle (we’ll get to that later), it adopts the South Korean automaker’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design language and has a lot more character than its predecessor.
It’s hard not to gasp when you first lay eyes on the i30 sedan. It has a medium, determined design more similar to the Tucson and Sonata than the i30 hatchback. Up front is a large angular grille finished in black and complemented by large air intakes and a black splitter in the N Line configuration.
The undertones of the current Tucson are particularly evident on the sides with equally crisp pleats and body lines that draw your eyes to the sleek rear which sports LED lights, a prominent light bar and, in the N-Line configuration, a black diffuser and a black lip to disclose. An 18-inch wheel set is also eye-catching.
Under the skin of the 2021 i30 N sedan is the automaker’s K3 platform which is lighter, safer and stronger than its predecessor. The car is 2.2 inches (55mm) higher than the older car and is 1 inch (25mm) wider. It also has a wheelbase of 107.1 inches (2720 mm), 0.8 inches (20 mm) longer than the 2020 model. The overall height of the sedan has been reduced by 0.8 inches (20 mm) and now stands at 56.5 inches (1435 mm). These changes mean the i30 sedan is longer, wider and lower than the 2020 Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Mazda3.
Logic would dictate that since the car’s footprint is much larger than that of the i30 hatch with its 104.3-inch (2,650mm) wheelbase, it should also weigh more. However, this is not the case, as the i30 N Line sedan tips the scales at 3,053 lbs (1385 kg), which is about 110 lbs (50 kg) less than an i30 N Line hatch equipped with the same way.
The example we tested was the N Line Premium which sits at the top of the local lineup until the full-fledged i30 N sedan lands next year. The N Line Premium, along with the slightly less well-equipped N Line, comes exclusively with a turbocharged 1.6-liter Smartstream four-cylinder engine that delivers 201 hp (150 kW) and 195 lb-ft (265 Nm) of torque.
A number of different Hyundai and Kia models use this same base engine, including the i30 N Line hatch. Importantly, it has been updated for use in the sedan and has a different bore and stroke while also having an updated turbocharger. Alongside this engine, an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission drives the front wheels.
No ordinary i30 interior
As mentioned, the Australian i30 sedan really only shares its name with the hatchback and this is immediately evident when you first step inside. There is absolutely nothing about it that reminds you of the hatch. That’s a good thing because the hatch cabin is starting to feel overwhelmed, especially compared to new rivals like the Mazda3.
A digital instrument panel and 10.25-inch touchscreen are standard on the N Line Premium, both surrounded by thick piano black bezels. Unlike the hatch, the infotainment screen and all crucial media and HVAC controls are angled toward the driver. A prominent handle on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel serves to neatly divide the first row into separate sections for the driver and passenger, giving a cockpit feel to the driving position.
Also read: Hyundai unveils the 2022 Elantra N from America with up to 286 hp and manual gearbox
Our test car also had soft, supple black leather seats with red contrast stitching and featured a configurable mood lighting system, as well as a heated steering wheel, heated seats, Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto and Qi wireless charging for smartphones. It’s a nice place to spend time inside, and the soft-touch surfaces add to the upscale feel of the cabin. A sunroof is also standard on N Line Premium models.
After first taking a seat in the i30 Sedan N Line Premium, we were immediately impressed with the fit and finish, but disappointed that the support seat did not lower as much as we would have liked. Once we started driving, this problem became insignificant.
Hyundai’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder acts as an excellent compromise between the entry-level naturally aspirated grinder the car is offered with and the 2.0-liter turbo grinder already in use in the Elantra N sold. in other markets. The engine doesn’t make the i30 Sedan N Line feel like a performance car in any way, but it does provide good acceleration and will be more than enough for most buyers. It’s also very fuel efficient as we averaged over 7.0 l / 100 km (33 US mpg) when we tested the car.
This engine has a grand total of 4 hp (3 kW) more than the engine in the Hyundai Kona N Line Premium that we drove a few months ago. Unsurprisingly, you can’t feel that extra growl and in a straight line the i30 Sedan N Line is just as crisp as its cross brother.
The eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox is the perfect companion to this engine. While some dual-clutch transmissions can be somewhat hesitant at low speeds, Hyundai has managed to resolve most of these issues. We found it best to keep the transmission in automatic mode for the smoothest driving experience. If you want to have fun, there are cute paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel. This is a big plus as the Kona N Line lacks paddle shifters for some reason.
Hyundai Australia has given the i30 Sedan its own suspension tuning to suit local roads and the result is a comfortable yet sporty ride in most driving scenarios. Throughout our week with the car, we covered a mix of freeway roads, city streets, and country roads and found it better suited to the latter two, rather than long highway jaunts.
For all intents and purposes, the Hyundai i30 Sedan is a very comfortable car for traveling long miles along the highways. However, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires make a lot of road noise once the speedometer goes above 100 km / h (62 mph) and it can quickly get boring (pun intended). The mirrors also seemed to contribute to the wind noise.
When driven in a sportier manner, the combination of tires and suspension works well. The steering response and the cornering are both precise and precise and it is easy to position the car perfectly in a corner, especially at moderate to high speeds. Grip is good and the rear can get quite playful when driving in Sport or Sport + mode.
Don’t give up sedans just yet
For us, the highlight of the 2021 i30 Sedan / Elantra is the interior, hands down. It is a comfortable and upscale place, regardless of the size of the occupants. In fact, at 6’2 I had more than enough head and legroom in the backseat, so carrying four adults isn’t a problem. The front legroom is 42.3 inches (1,074mm) while the rear legroom is an impressive 38 inches (965mm), 2.3 inches (58mm) more than the old Elantra and 0.6 inches (15mm) taller than the all new 11th generation Honda Civic. The clear height at the front is 38.7 inches (982 mm) with the sunroof (40.6 inches / 1,031 mm without) while the clear height at the rear is 37.3 inches (947 mm ), which is 0.2 inches (5 mm) longer than the Civic. The trunk of the i30 sedan also gobbles up 474 liters (16.7 cubic feet), more than large enough to hold a few large suitcases and / or duffel bags that owners might need.
Australian prices for the 2021 i30 sedan start at AU $ 28,253 (US $ 21,161) for the Active, AU $ 34,157 (US $ 25,583) for the N line, AU $ 34,700 (US $ 25,990) for the Elite and AU $ 41,830 (US $ 31,330) for the N Line Premium that we tested. Pricing for the i30 Sedan N has not been announced, but it is expected to exceed AU $ 50,000 (US $ 37,450). In the US, the Elantra lineup starts with the SE starting at US $ 19,850 and goes up to $ 21,100 for the SEL, $ 24,250 for the N Line and $ 25,600 for the Limited. The Elantra N is expected to start at around $ 30,000.
In a world where crossovers and SUVs are starting to dominate the roads, it would be easy to dismiss the i30 sedan as simply part of a dying breed. However, it offers virtually the same functionality as a comparable Kona, has a much nicer interior, and in my eyes it looks better as well. It is also cheaper by AU $ 5,205 (US $ 3,898). I know which one I prefer to own.