Despite a heavy-hearted plan to discontinue most of its petrol-powered N cars, the i30 Sedan N will continue due to strong American sales targets
The only petrol-powered Hyundai high-performance N division model that will survive a coming discontinuation cull will be an unlikely candidate – the i30 Sedan N.
Released in Australia in 2021, the i30 Sedan N will not only be retained but will be upgraded in the coming years, with senior Hyundai N executives confirming to Chasing Cars that a second generation is locked-in with a possible engine change.
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The i30 Sedan N is a sporty, midsize four-door that is targetted mainly at the American and South Korean markets, where it is badged respectively as the Elantra N and Avante N. Unlike in Australia, sedans continue to sell strongly in the US and Korea.
Locally, while all Hyundai N cars have been subject to wait times in recent years due to chronic semiconductor supply shortages, the i30 Sedan N has been the easiest model to come by, with the shortest buyer waits.
Critically, the sports sedan is not sold in Europe, so the four-door i30 is largely unaffected by tightening European emissions laws Hyundai says are responsible for a near-certain decision to discontinue the Euro-focussed i20 N, i30 N hatch and Kona N in the coming years.
Tough new Euro 7 emissions limits are slated to enter force in the European Union in 2025, rendering it unprofitable for Hyundai to continue selling those three petrol-powered models in the key European markets that contribute most of the volume for the cars.
Shielded from those effects, development work is continuing on the i30 Sedan N, with the petrol-powered model taking on great importance as the sole carrier of N division’s legacy as an affordable sports car manufacturer.
Hyundai N will soon launch two new premium EV models – the confirmed Ioniq 5 N and mooted Ioniq 6 N – at about $100,000, but after the i20 N, i30 N hatch and Kona N are cut from the lineup, the i30 Sedan N will be the sole circa-$50,000 model.
While work is starting on electric versions of the i20 N and i30 N hatchbacks, the revamped i30 Sedan N will need to carry the flag for affordable Hyundai N cars “until we have electrified high-performance cars from N which might be lower priced.”
That’s according to Hyundai vice president of N brand Till Wartenberg, who spoke with Chasing Cars at the recent Hyundai N festival in Adelaide.
Also speaking with Chasing Cars at that event was Hyundai N executive technical adviser Albert Biermann, who confirmed the Elantra N, or i30 Sedan N as it is known locally, had been selected for continued development despite the general focus on EVs.
“The i30 N sedan, at least, can continue,” Biermann told Chasing Cars. “It’s kind of safe, quite safe, that we can have a next-generation i30 N sedan.”
Technical adviser Biermann added some cryptic details about an engine change for the upgraded i30 Sedan N.
“When I checked the other engine, everything fits in there without big drama. It’s in the long-range plan already,” he said.
Chasing Cars understands that a number of Hyundai models will switch from their existing petrol engines to a newer 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine in future.
This 2.5T engine could be the heart of the second-generation i30 Sedan N. The motor is already in use in Hyundai’s Sonata N Line large sedan, where it produces 213kW of power and 422Nm of torque – 7kW/30Nm more the current i30 Sedan N’s 2.0-litre turbo ‘four.
In the Sonata, the 2.5-litre turbo engine is mated exclusively to Hyundai’s in-house eight-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission – the development of which N division contributed heavily to.
Whether a manual gearbox could continue after a possible engine change is not yet known, but relatively strong demand in the American market among enthusiast buyers for manuals could prop up the business case for renewing the i30 Sedan N’s available manual.
In Australia, the current-generation i30 Sedan N is priced at $50,200 in a single Premium trim grade, regardless of whether the buyer selects a six-speed manual or the eight-speed DCT automatic.
All prices listed are before on-road costs.
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