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Small changes, big impact. The new i30N

Breaking News! The new i30N is available as an automatic. Normally, one would say that replacing a manual gearbox with an automatic would make a car worse. But that is exactly was Hyundai has done with their facelifted i30N. What has changed? Here's the run-down.

The changes made to the new i30N can be considered a facelift. Improvements have been made to refresh the car for a mid-cycle model. Basically to remind everybody that the i30N exists. The changes brought to the new i30N are substantial enough that we want to talk about them. One of the biggest talking points is the new DCT gearbox. Hyundai has opted to offer the i30N with their new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, which adds 30kg in weight, but reduces the 0 - 100km/h time by half a second. Power is up to 280 horsepower and torque is increased to 392nm.

What Hyundai has done is not only install a DCT gearbox and called it a day, they have added some gimmicks, a lot of them. The N-DCT gearbox can propel the i30N from 80 to 120km/h in 3.5 seconds, a whole 3 seconds quicker than the manual. Even though the DCT might come with a weight penalty, the i30N only weighs 1400 kg. This is due to the lightweight materials in the bucket seats and 19-inch alloy wheels. If you want maximum performance by a push of a button, N Grin Shift will turn everything up to 11. For 20 seconds, the i30N will produce its peak performance without loss of torque and increased exhaust sound. The new gearbox allows for lightning-fast gear changes and a satisfying "push-feeling" on upshifts. Up until now, the DCT gearbox is better than the manual transmission. At least on paper. How does it change the driving experience?

We think the new gearbox suits the i30N well. The shifts are instantaneous and engaging. One of the worst things to happen to an auto-conversion is the lack of emotion. But with every upshift, the exhaust fills with sound and takes over. While driving the i30N, we didn't miss the manual one bit. The overall driving experience remains; torque-steer, strong push in the mid-rev range, and an antisocial exhaust to annoy your neighbors with. But this doesn't mean that the manual was boring, it was good, even though it did not stand out for us. We knew from the get-go that an automatic would eventually come. With so much power being sent to the front wheels only, it is only smart to put that power to the road through a quick-shifting DCT. So much time is lost under acceleration when you have to fight so many things such as the torque-steer and a short-throw manual transmission. The DCT adds a new dimension to the enjoyable nature of the i30N. With the DCT, there are more ways to play with the sound, and with the addition of a smart launch control system, you'll get off the line quicker.

All these new performance features are included in the TCR-Performance Package. So the standard i30N will not receive the boost feature and the added 5 horsepower. We think that it's worth it; the acceleration is insane, given the traction.

Aesthetic differences are limited. But the overall design has been refreshed to suit the standards of 2022. Some changes in the front include new LED lights which are sculpted in a neet V-shape, a lower bumper, and a wider, more aggressive grille. Even though this car has to adapt to 2022 regulations, somehow the exhausts have become bigger and louder. The rear features similar LED taillights and a larger rear spoiler. As mentioned before, the side profile is dominated by the 19-inch lightweight alloy wheels, which are 14.4 kg lighter than the previous model. In those wheels, you'll find bright red performance brakes with a fitting N logo.

The inside has been left largely unchanged. Some aspects have been updated, but there are no differences that set the new i30N apart from the old one. This doesn't mean it's not good, it's great! There is so much standard equipment and now there's a 10.25-inch infotainment screen available. In which you'll find the Performance-Driving Data System; this allows you to customize every aspect of the driving experience to your liking. Considering this is still a Hyundai, everything in the interior feels lovely. The shifter and steering wheel are peppered with blue-stiched accents and some N logos here and there. Overall: nice! A well-received feature is a drive-mode button, as well as the Race-mode button on the steering wheel. We love that!

Our verdict is that the i30N remains to be a wilder and great alternative to the VW Golf GTI Clubsport. And with these changes, the i30N can keep up with more of its rivals and beats them on exhaust sound. Nothing in its class sounds like the i30N.


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