i30N Manual vs DCT – Which Is Better?

In today’s post, I’m going to share my opinion on the i30N manual vs DCT and which is better.

Please note this is not based on scientific performance measurement. There has already been enough of that done by professional car reviewers, vloggers etc with far more expertise and skills than I have. You can read or watch any one of a number of head-to-head comparisons.

Both the manual and the DCT are good performers … the DCT I think edges it slightly in terms of performance potential (and also fuel economy in the cruise) but isn’t as engaging as the manual, but I’m not going to re-tread ground that has already been covered so many times.

However, when it comes to the i30N manual vs DCT question, I think more important is a general discussion of what you’re using the car for.

Long story short, if your i30N is going to be your only car or a real ‘daily driver’, I’d pick the DCT. For disclaimer’s sake, I have a DCT-equipped car, but I have also tested the manual and I’ve had plenty of manual cars in the past.

The DCT (available only in the post-facelift cars) just makes such a difference to everyday driving characteristics. You can stick the car in ‘D’, and just cruise around town, creep along in the traffic, or navigate the local car park with ease.

Coming from a manual car, the DCT is honestly a relief for daily use.

As much as I’m a petrolhead, it gets tiring using a manual for mundane, day-to-day driving.

Now, if your i30N is going to be a “weekend toy”, “fun car” or you are just an absolute purist who wants the most involved and engaging driving experience, then the manual is the better choice.

Even though the DCT is arguably the better performer (it’s honestly flabbergasting just how good the DCT is once you start working it hard) there is no replacement for the car-driver connection that comes from a proper manual gearbox … when you are wanting to go for a spirited drive.

So from where I’m sat, when it comes to buying a manual vs DCT i30N, the decision really comes down to what you are hoping to use the car for:

  • If you are going to ‘daily drive’ the car or it’s your only vehicle (and particularly if you live in an urban environment with traffic) get the DCT. It’s 90% as fun as a manual but so much more practical and easy to live with. As somebody who has had more manual cars than auto, I can truly say that I don’t feel like I’m missing anything whatsoever with the DCT. It’s that good to use.
  • If you are buying an i30N only as a toy/fun car, or you are a true purist and the thought of sacrificing at all ruins the enjoyment for you, then get the manual. If I had another car (my gas guzzling, massively unreliable VW Touareg doesn’t count) that I was using for my daily commute, then I would have preferred the manual just for the driving engagement.

As far as performance differences go, for street use and in the hands of a “normal” driver you’re never going to be pushing it hard enough to really differentiate. Sorry to break it to you!

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