Like the Golf GTI, the MY2021 Hyundai i30 N’s mechanical ingredients are unchanged at a fundamental level. The body is unchanged, the suspension basics are unchanged (but the tune has been fettled), and it’s still that familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine driving the front wheels. But again, the tune has changed for the better.

The biggest change mechanically must be the welcome addition of an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that elevates this hot hatch to the next level. This clever and well-executed cog swapper makes the i30 N a meaner machine and a more compliant everyday cruiser. As a result, the i30 N will now be vastly more appealing to more Australians.

Hyundai expects around 80 per cent of Australian i30 N buyers will buy this version over the six-speed manual initially; that number will settle to around 70 per cent longer term.

In general driving, the transmission is quick and decisive with gearchanges under pressure, and seamlessly smooth when there’s no need to hurry. It doesn’t suffer the gremlins that plagued early double-clutch transmissions, particularly around low-speed manoeuvring. The transmission also has a ‘Creep start’ function that applies a small amount of revs at standstill and mimics the creep function of a typical torque converter automatic. This ensures there is no shunting or stuttering when moving off.

If anything, the i30 N’s throttle response feels a touch lethargic initially, but energy quickly builds as revs climb beyond 1500rpm. Above that, the engine responds quickly and generously to increased throttle pressure, and that’s in ‘Normal’ mode. Dial up ‘Sport’ mode and engine response quickens appreciably.

The eight gear ratios are tightly packed so there never feels like a lull in the action – but even if there were long gaps between ratios, the i30 N’s torquier engine would easily disguise them. Upgrades to the turbocharger and intercooler unit have yielded an additional 4kW and 39Nm, raising peaks to 206kW and 392Nm, the latter on tap from 2100 to 4700rpm. This car wasn’t slow before. Now, it gives so lustily it never leaves you wanting more.

The transmission comes with three shift maps – Normal, Sport and Sport+ – each of which speeds up gearshifts appreciably. In addition to this, the transmission will respond to anything more than 90 per cent throttle with the fastest gearchange it can do, not bothering to smooth the swap by reducing torque mid-shift, to give you that race car intensity. This feature is called N Power Shift (NPS).

Then there’s N Grin Shift (NGS). Accessed via a single steering wheel button, it deploys maximum drivetrain intensity for 20 seconds no matter what drive mode you were in previously. It comes complete with rally-car backfires on trailing throttle and downshifts, and there’s a countdown timer on the instrument cluster to let you know when NGS will return you to ‘mundane’ mode.

In addition to that, the i30 N DCT has N Track Sense (NTS), which is basically the transmission’s most ballistic mode and which we have not yet experienced. This activates when the car senses that the road conditions are optimal for dynamic driving – on a racetrack for example – and employs the most aggressive gearshift mapping for maximum performance.

Speaking of racetracks, unless you’re on one we’d steer clear of the i30 N DCT’s most dynamic suspension mode. It is so firm and unforgiving that, on anything less than a billiard table, it will eject your brain from your skull.

Honestly, the i30 N’s base suspension setting is good for anything up to 80 per cent attack anyway, and provides a very good balance between occupant comfort and roadholding. It absorbs bumps quite well for a sports-tuned suspension, and has a good initial bumpsoak compliance to deal with things like ruts, potholes and sharper speedbumps.

Now, all this DCT goodness doesn’t come without a cost to the bottom line and the waistline. I’ve said before that the DCT adds $3000 to the price; it also adds 33kg to the car’s weight and brings kerb weights up to 1480kg (base) and 1541kg (Premium with Sunroof).

Even with the extra weight, the new eight-speed transmission and the engine’s extra herbs deliver a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.4 seconds via Launch Mode. That’s a long way ahead of the i30 N manual’s 5.9sec and the Golf DSG’s 6.4sec claim.

On a less than ideal coarse-chip surface we managed to equal the Golf’s claim, but could only extract a 5.8sec time out of the Hyundai. We only had two runs in the i30 N before the heavens opened, so some additional testing is clearly needed.

Posted by WordPress Guru