Is The Hyundai i30N Comfortable As A Daily Driver?

It’s generally accepted that the Hyundai i30N is an excellent performance car with good daily driving credentials insomuch that it is fairly practical, not so expensive that you’ll be terrified to drive and park it anywhere, and ultimately it’s built on a ‘normal car’ platform (and having had several rental, non-N Hyundai i30s I can attest to them being excellent cars).

But is the Hyundai i30N a comfortable car for daily driving? Or will you find yourself requiring the services of your local chiropractor or massage specialist after every drive?

In this short article I’ll give you my take – as an owner (not just a review tester who gets to turn the car back in and who has no ‘skin in the game’) as to whether or not the i30N is comfortable.

My Experience With The i30N’s Comfort

Long story short, I find my i30N to be “decently comfortable”.

It’s actually more comfortable than my old Suzuki Swift sport, which had very narrow racing-inspired seats, a harsh rear bench seat and a very plasticky interior (even compared to the fairly plasticky i30N interior).

My Fastback i30N has the standard seats, which I find are supportive and comfortable on both short journeys and longer trips, and I’ve not had a single passenger complaint yet either (whereas, for example, my wife hated the seats on the Swift).

There’s enough adjustment to provide most conventionally-proportioned people with the ability to get comfortable. The seat heaters are a nice added bonus as well. I’ve not sat in the upgraded performance/race seats, which look nice I must admit but I believe lack some of the same levels of adjustment.

The rear legroom is passable for the overall dimensions of the car, although if you’re over 6 foot I wouldn’t want to spend too much time in the back, or at least ensure you buy the hatchback and not the fastback … but rear seat passenger commentary has generally been that the seats themselves are quite nice and I’ve enjoyed sitting in them on the occasion that I’ve let somebody else loose in the car and had another passenger in the front (you can’t put the father-in-law in the back, can you?)

In terms of creature comforts, everything is about what you’d expect for a car of its class and price point. The air conditioning is good on a hot day and the heater works well (note, however, the lack of rear seat AC vents) There are cup holders and storage , and the whole package is easy to live with on a daily basis. It is a hot hatch in the true style of being a usable daily car with a real performance edge.

With specific note to the Fastback (which I own) the Fastback’s comfort for rear seat passengers is compromised by the sloping roofline and reduced window space, meaning a slightly more claustrophobic feel as well. Not a great choice if your rear seat passenger complement is in the next NBA draft, for example.

Although I love the Fastback shape enough to have bought one, I’d recommend the hatchback any day in terms of cabin ergonomics, let alone boot storage space.

The (Performance) Elephant In The Room

What you do need to bear in mind as well is that the car is ultimately geared for performance. In fact, to get the elephant out of the room if you drive the i30N on ‘normal’ roads (i.e. with imperfections, coarse surfaces etc) in sport mode and especially on the standard N mode without customising the suspension settings, it is very harsh … as in you’ll be bouncing around like a pinball inside a machine. Without customisation, N Mode is really meant for track use or spirited driving on decent roads where you don’t care at all about comfort.

But in normal modes and eco modes it’s honestly not that bad at all. The ride is generally compliant and comfortable, and you certainly don’t step out of the car feeling like you’ve aged 10 years. Unless you are very fussy, or you’ve spent the rest of you life driving luxury vehicles or something like a hydropneumatic suspension-equipped Citroen, I think you’ll find it more than acceptable. Just be wary that when you press the chequered flag, things will change fast.

As shameful as it might sound, most of the time I drive in eco mode (I don’t see the point in wasting fuel and making more noise than necessary unless I’m having a proper drive) and at least from this driver’s perspective I’m pleasantly surprised with the comfort levels on offer.

I should also mention that there’s a fair bit of tyre noise, but some of that comes in my case from the appalling road surfaces we have to tolerate here in New Zealand. I’m sure on a better bit of road the noise wouldn’t be as bad.

Conclusion

Is the Hyundai i30N comfortable? Yes, I think so if you go in with reasonable expectations and also drive it in one of the more comfort/everyday focused modes.

If you are expecting Rolls Royce levels of refinement and comfort, you’ll be disappointed.

If you expect to be able to drive on “full noise” N mode – at least without toying with the suspension settings – then you’ll find the ride very harsh on all but the smoothest of surfaces.

If you want a more comfortable hot hatch, then I’d suggest the Golf GTI as a good compromise option. The performance isn’t as strong, but the practicality and comfort is superior.

Circling back to my opening comment about this being a review of the i30N’s comfort from the perspective of an everyday owner and not a car reviewer, I think part of the i30N’s “mixed bag” reputation in the comfort stakes probably comes from the fact that professional reviewers get to enjoy a whole host of different cars, many of them far more comfort-focused (e.g. luxury vehicles) than the i30N.

That, I suspect, spoils your perception over time in the same way that if you only fly business class you’ll find any economy class seat uncomfortable … but there are economy seats in the vein of Ryanair or budget airlines, and then there are economy seats like you find on Emirates or Singapore Airlines that are honestly not a bad place to spend 12 hours.

Having owned modest cars up until this point, and not being a particularly luxury-oriented individual, I’m more than pleased.

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