2021 Hyundai i30 N DCT | PH exam
Fans of manual hot hatches might rightly feel a little harsh at the moment. Because while cars like the Civic Type R and Focus ST continue to fight the good fight, the DIY gearbox is more often worthy of interest for ranges it is omitted rather than welcome. It is no longer available in the Golf R, Cupra Leon, Audi S3 or Renault Sport Megane, and the BMW 128ti was also launched exclusively with an automatic transmission. Sedans like these seem much more likely than the only manual GR Yaris …
The problem is compounded by so many half-risky attempts to incorporate automatic transmissions. Whether it’s installing nasty paddles, misconfigured levers, or manual modes that aren’t, it can often feel like a car takes away more from the hot hatch experience than just a simple foot pedal. ‘clutch. Ford even went so far as to install an automatic torque converter on the Focus ST that was both slower and less efficient than the manual as in 2003 again. We are not anti-auto – far from it – but we are against not trying very hard. Many automatic hot hatches can seem like afterthought, at least from a driver engagement perspective.
The recently revised Hyundai i30 N seems to cover all the bases. It comes standard from £ 33,745 with a six-speed manual; for an additional £ 1,500 buyers can have an i30 with a dual-clutch car for the first time. This is the car we drove as a prototype last year, now on UK roads in right-hand drive (although the photo is still left-hand drive).
There are encouraging signs before you go anywhere. The automatic lever occupies a prominent place in the center and is well adjusted for manual changes; the lever is moved towards the driver, then pushed up for downshifts and pulled down to go up. Just like a 911 GT3, and all the sequential races in history. It doesn’t take up much space either, with phone storage always available before the stick itself. The metal shift paddles are prominent and well positioned, with two pedals right where you want them in the floor. It all sounds basic but is so often overlooked which is hard to forgive in driver-focused cars.
Opt for an automatic i30 N and you’ll enter a whole new world of Hyundai acronyms, including NGS (N Grin Shift), NPS (N Power Shift), and NTS (N Track Sense Shift). They sound a little whimsical, and in truth probably are – but they point to a manufacturer who is considering ways in which a car could be improved by an automobile. Like Porsche’s Sport Response for the PDK, NGS uses a steering wheel-mounted button to immediately set the car to its highest acceleration – lowest speed, strongest acceleration – for 20 seconds. This is useful for passing, or if a series of turns opens up, especially with eight gears when you might want second or third. NPS is also welcome, preventing torque interruption when upshifting with more than 90% throttle; on the road, that means a push with every gear change that makes the acceleration sharper than it is.
Plus, before anyone says these are all juvenile sightings – yes the gearshift lights are still great and the manual mode will nerf the limiter as well – the i30 N DCT performs well in automatic. Having eight gears versus six in the manual means it can run at lower revs, to begin with; Given that the i30 N’s 2.0-liter is known to be both a bit crass and inefficient at the same time, being able to pull 2,000 rpm up at the national speed limit will be helpful. And that means 0-62mph only takes 5.4 seconds, half a second … Sorry, yes, reasonable. In the Eco setting, the auto is as unassuming and smooth – striving to reach eighth quickly and calmly – as it is fast and furious in N mode. Hyundai has yet to release numbers, but it has to. consume less fuel than the manual. The N DCT is a very hard automatic to blame.
Plus, of course, it’s equipped with one of the most entertaining hot hatches on the market. According to Hyundai figures, the dual clutch adds 35 kg, which is not enough to have an effect on the driving experience. The i30 N is a born hooligan, rolling quite firmly, making a lot of noise, and pushing you around every turn a little faster – the DCT hasn’t changed at all. In fact, without the need to manually change gears, the driver can concentrate a little more on the work of the brakes and the limited slip differential; both offer solid performance as well as a plentiful feel through the pedal and steering wheel. Maybe an engine that’s not the fastest means last-second downshifts hardly drag on, but the box itself is more than suited to late demands.
All of this means that the i30 N DCT presents a very attractive case for itself. The criticisms we have leveled at our rivals about tactility and engagement are answered here, which will surely make them even more aggravating in the future. We’re not asking for Ferrari-style paddles and a touring car lever in five-door hatchbacks, but a good automatic can be both easy and engaging to drive, which the i30 has conclusively proven. Perhaps more than in any other offering, this new N gearbox makes it harder than ever to choose between manual and automatic hot hatch. Hopefully buyers can keep choosing for a little while longer.
SPECIFICATION | 2021 HYUNDAI I30 N DCT
Engine: 1,998 cm3 4-cylinder turbo
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 280 @ 6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 289 @ 2,100-4,700 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.4 seconds (5.9)
Top speed: 155 mph
Weight: 1,455 kg (1,419 kg)
MPG: To confirm
CO2: To confirm
Price: £ 35,695 (£ 33,745)
(Figures in brackets for the manual)