Now this is how you make a sporty, modern sedan. In fact, it’s difficult to find a fault here. Is there any reason not to buy a 2021 Hyundai i30 N Line sedan (Elantra N Line)?

2021 Hyundai i30 N Line sedan: What is it?

Hyundai calls it the i30 Sedan N Line, and it is the four-door brother to the i30 hatch. Unlike the hatch, the new sedan is underpinned by Hyundai Motor Group’s latest K3 platform (also used on some Kia models). This is a tweaked and tuned version of the K2 layout used on the current hatch. The wheelbase is 70mm longer and it’s 30mm wider, providing more cabin space and perhaps increased stability.

You can get it in Active, Elite and N Line variant levels, and all are extremely well packaged. But the N Line definitely stands out with its sporty connotations, such as 18-inch wheels (we love the centre-lock-style design when it’s spinning), a neat bodykit, and various black highlights. The N Line is also the only model that gets the company’s 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, producing 150kW and 265Nm. This can be had with a six-speed manual (as tested) or a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

One of the immediate attractions to this rather stunning sedan is the price. Because the order books opens at just $30,690, plus $2000 for the auto. When you discover how much kit that’s packed in, you suddenly become aware that this could be the bargain of the year.

2021 Hyundai i30 N Line sedan: What does it come with?

Everything. But no seriously, there isn’t any more gear a modern car buyer needs. The interior design, specifically, is a real highlight in our opinion. The way the dash cascades down and in sync with the door trims, and the slashes and horizontal lines make it seem wider and more spacious. Most fixtures are covered in quality-feeling materials, with hardly any of that nasty tough plastic to be seen or felt. Except in hard-wearing areas like the lower door trims, which is fair enough.

The N Line is available in something Hyundai calls the Premium trim, which does add some very attractive features. Chief among which is a larger, 10.25-inch touch-screen on the dash. This is the group’s latest system which is seen in loads of other modern models, including the new Sonata N Line, Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento. It’s great. Good crisp graphics, thoughtful and understandable menu functionality, and of course plenty of those must-have apps, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, are all presented.

In this base model it does revert back to Hyundai’s outgoing 8.0-inch unit. It’s still pretty good though and comes with the smartphone integration systems, along with a rear-view camera, and a six-speaker sound system. However, the Premium pack adds in some helpful and enticing things, like satellite navigation with live traffic updates, a Bose eight-speaker sound system, and digital radio.

The other big thing the Premium gets is a fully digital instrument cluster, comprising of another 10.25-inch screen. It looks good, but even so, the standard setup does look quite stimulating as well. In the middle of two mechanical dials is a 4.2-inch display for the trip and on-board computer. Both variants get the same dual-zone climate control system and rear air vents, so that’s good, while the Premium adds heated/cooling front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s chair.

These seats are awesome, by the way. They manage to walk the fine line between offering thick cushioning with excellent comfort while also providing plenty of lateral support thanks to chunky side bolsters. Red stitching is applied for racy contrast. Rear seat space is also outstanding for this class. Headroom is good and there’s loads of legroom. Like the front, the seat is well-sculpted and formed with soft cushioning.

Practicality is further extended thanks to the 474-litre boot. That’s more than the hatch (395L), but obviously the hatch door can make it easier when carrying big and bulky items. Under the boot floor you’ll find a space-saver spare wheel, which is a bit disappointing, especially as all of the other variants (non N Line) come with a full-size spare. Although, the Active and Elite use 17-inch alloys.

2021 Hyundai i30 N Line sedan: Fun factor

We weren’t expecting this to be as fun as it is. Hyundai engineers really know what they are doing, especially with former BMW M boss, Albert Biermann, now in charge of research and development. Hyundai Australia has tested the tune for local conditions, and the result is just about perfect.

Firstly, the ride comfort is completely normal and liveable for everyday conditions. It’ll absorb harsh bridge connections and potholes without a sturdy and reassuring thud, but it won’t send ricochets through your spine. This is what we expect as, after all, this is not a full-cream hot hatch model – that’s coming later this year, the proper N.

What surprised us though is the agility and adaptability of this setup. Take it for a hard drive along a tight and twisty road and it will eat it up and ask for seconds. The turn-in is precise and it feels like the car wants to and enjoys making the turn, and through the arc of the bend it holds a stable line and never feels uncomfortable or out of its depth.

Hyundai decided to fit this with Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres, which is a bit unusual given that other sporty models in its showroom come with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 or 4. They definitely do the trick though, as you can push this very hard around corners and you’ll rarely hear a peep from them. It grips up and rips around.

As for the powertrain, well, we had the delight of sampling the manual. The gear shift action is a tiny bit notchy, as is the case with most front-drive cars due to the need for connecting rods and so on. But overall, the driving enjoyment is right up there with the proper big boy hot hatches. With 150kW from this new Smartstream engine (new turbo, higher compression ratio), and a kerb weight of 1355kg (low by today’s standards, for this size car), it can maintain some serious speed through and in between corners.

We clocked 0-100km/h in a best of 7.3 seconds, out of a handful of runs. That’s certainly quick enough for a sporty hatch/sedan. Any quicker and it would be pushed into hot hatch territory. Thankfully, Hyundai has fit a lovely sports exhaust this time as well, which produces a perfect deep-ish note. On the automatic models it even parps between shifts, like an Audi or VW.

2021 Hyundai i30 N Line sedan: Should you buy one?

Yep, this one gets a huge tick of approval from us. We love it. The design is spectacular, inside and out. It feels really well made and is more practical than the sport-focused design might suggest. And there’s heaps of standard gear included.

While the engine is new, it does carry over outputs that we’ve seen for quite a few years now, it still goes very well and certainly meets the expectations of this specific market segment. Hyundai engineers have made some tweaks to it and it now gives off a properly rorty note.

We’ve heard the waiting list is pretty long but we’d definitely recommend placing an order, especially if you’re in the market for a small-to-medium car that showcases a decent level of flair and flamboyance, without going over the top. It’s fantastic.

How does it rate against rivals?
  • Practicality
  • Engine and gearbox
  • Cornering talent
  • Engine sound
  • Value for money
4.4

Final word

This is a brilliant take on what has always been a very vanilla and humdrum category. The design literally turns heads, and the interior is just as impressive. We love the way this thing drives and sounds. Any better and it’d be a proper hot hatch – wait for the N version if you want more of this. For an everyday car, this is all you ever need.

I like to think that I'm a car fanatic, but more of a driving fanatic. There's nothing better than getting out onto the open road, almost regardless of the car, and enjoying dancing with the controls and gathering up the moving scenery. If I'm not driving I'm either at the gym or sinking a few beers with friends.