2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N Limited Edition Review

We got our hands on 1 of 180 Hyundai i30N Drive-N's coming to Australia, let's give it some Sauce and see what we are all missing out on!

Jacob Brooke
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Eargasmic Exhausts
  • Fun 6-speed manual and incredible handling
  • A piece of 'N Performance' history


  • You simply can't get one
  • Some of the sticker decals look cheap
  • Manual straight-line performance is not up to scratch with the DCT
Car specs

206kW + 392Nm

$53,200 + On-roads


No ANCAP score

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

While 2021 brought us the facelift of the Hyundai i30N, the South Korean brand couldn’t help themselves with a bit of fan service late in 2022 and here we have it - the Drive-N Limited Edition.

A limited production run of 800 will be produced in late 2022/early 2023, with 180 hitting Australian shores, and a 70:30 split between the DCT and 6-speed manual transmissions, respectively. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a Manual Phantom Black Pearl spec, and while this sounds like it could be the title of the next Blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movie, it certainly makes this a very, very rare hot hatch indeed.

At CarSauce, one thing that we certainly don’t have limited supply of is Sauce, and today we will be giving the car plenty of that. We thoroughly tested the 0-100km/h (0-62mph) capabilities, the driving dynamics, as well as the everyday practicality and features to bring you the most comprehensive review possible on this version of the i30N that you will most likely never see.

Will this supposed lasti30N stand up to our tests? Or will it crumble beneath the SauceMeter? Find out in this full review!

How much does the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N cost?

The Hyundai i30N Drive-N 6-speed Manual (tested) is priced at $53,200 before on-road costs, while the 8-speed Automatic DCT is $56,200, this marks a $2500 premium over the plain old Hyundai i30N Premium with Sunroof pack, however if you include the extra $595 for Metallic paint option (included in this special Drive-N edition) this extra cost falls to just shy of $2000.

What do we think of the exterior looks on the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N?

As far as appearances are concerned, the facelifted Hyundai i30N was no slouch, but with the additional decals and badge changes brought by the Drive-N, it stands out quite a bit.

The front of the hot hatch is distinguished by the blacked-out Hyundai logo, blending in flush with the large grille. Below the left and right air intakes are the signature “Drive-N” bronze decals that let everyone know just how special and rare this i30N really is. (Though it wouldn’t surprise me if this rapidly becomes available as an aftermarket option).

The changes to the side of the i30N Drive-N include an absolutely massive bronze decal stretching along the length of both side doors, on both the driver and passenger sides of the car. 

Just in front of the side mirrors lies a bronze badge with the words “Drive-N Limited” embossed, along with the coordinates to Hyundai’s TOP SECRET ‘N’ division testing centre at the Nurburgring, Germany - so if you ever get stuck with a flat in the “Deutsche Wildnis”, you’ll know exactly where to go to get it changed!

The back remains a great angle of this hatchback, with ALL three badges continuing the blacked-out theme, except for the ‘N’ for Namyang badge, signified by a bright metallic finish. Hyundai opted to keep the body-kit the same for this limited edition version of the i30N, with the diffuser separated from the hatch by a sporty red decal, and the facelifted tail light design standing out proudly from the Phantom Black Pearl finish. Similarly to the front, bronze racing lines have been added above the rear reflectors. Sitting ominously at the rear, and most likely vibrating erratically, are the enormous dual exhaust tips that produce simply one of the sweetest exhaust sounds of any hot hatch - perhaps any car. I implore you to watch our video review so that you too, can experience the ear pleasure that I am referring to.

Overall, the Drive-N limited edition details are subtle, but combine in a way to enhance the presence of the car on the road to such a degree that even the average person can tell there is something different about this model of i30N. What is most definitely not so subtle however, is what they’ve done to the interior of this thing…

What’s the Interior like in the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N?

The interior is exactly the same as the i30N.


ALCANTARA… Everywhere! I mean seriously, all of the touch points inside this car have been designed for maximum grip and racing ability, and the quality is something to behold. From the steering wheel, to the 6-speed manual shift knob, to the armrest, even the i30N - or should I say Kia EV6 GT - racing bucket seats have been wrapped in a heavenly dose of ALCANTARA. Another nice touch are the bright red seat belts! Through our extensive testing at CarSauce HQ we have deduced that having this colour seat belt adds an extra 30kW of power.

Honestly, this completely changes the way that this car feels to sit, and drive in. It feels more expensive, perhaps even more capable, and as you white knuckle it through some twisties, the Alcantara steering wheel just grips endlessly and engages that inner Kimi Raikonnen that I, admittedly, probably don’t possess. It’s not all roses though, this material on the steering wheel is quite durable, however many hours of driving is definitely going to wear it out and it may become rougher over time.

Being an i30N hatch means that practicality is decent, the front I/O is good with a USB-A port and two 12V sockets. The 8-inch infotainment screen is clear and sharp, and the interface is snappy and easy to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available when using a wired connection - still no wireless - and works well without a hitch.

The instrument cluster is a nicely backlit analogue unit, with a shift light and a small digital screen separating the gauges with a handy digital speed read-out, amongst other driving information including Drive Modes. Which brings me to those beautiful anodized metal drive mode selectors on the spokes of the alcantara steering wheel. They feel cold to the touch and have a satisfying click, and the N-Mode selector allows you to toggle between the preset ‘N’ mode and your custom setup, which can be finely tuned via the ‘N’ app.

Special touches include a bronze metallic badge above the USB and 12V Sockets which includes a build number (out of 800), as well as the Drive-N Limited Edition text. Aussie editions of this hatch will be numbered from 620-799 and we were lucky enough to have on hand with us #620! Additionally, there is a grippy red decal in the middle of the alcantara racing bucket seats, and the glowing ‘N’ logo just beneath the headrest is an absolute eyecatch.

Other materials around the cabin are exactly the same as the standard model i30’s, so having those alcantara touch points on the manual handbrake, arm rest, shift knob and steering wheel spruce things up and add a more premium feel to the interior. Though one may argue, is it really worth the extra $3000 for these touch points, given that performance and driving are completely the same? We’ll discuss that more in the driving section of this review.

What about the back seats in the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N?

The Alcantara continues! Just like up front, the back seats have received the Alcantara treatment - greatly improving their grip and feel to the touch. We also get red seat belts in the back as well so our rear passengers don’t miss out on any of the fun! That's good, the absence of any air vents in the rear of this car is not so great however. Hyundai says this is due to the presence of a manual parking brake, though we’ve seen other manufacturers manage this, so it’s a bit of a head scratcher.

How much can the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N fit in the boot?

Boot capacity is on par with other cars in the class, though not class-leading, it certainly does the job at 380L, just 15L less than its standard i30 Hatch counterpart. The back seats can also be folded flat meaning that capacity can be extended - one caveat to this though is that the stiffness bar included with the N performance package blocks items from being stored flat along the floor of the boot. Overall it's good, but far from great!

What’s under the bonnet on the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N?

The original i30n is the brainchild of the same man that brought the BMW ‘M’ division to life. It has German blood running through its… engine? So yes, it’s absolutely bloody amazing. But more about that in the driving section.

As far as numbers go, this hot hatch is no slouch with 206kW of power delivered to the front wheels, 392Nm of torque. While this doesn’t put it into the territory of super hatch, falling short of the 235kW/400Nm in the Golf R, it does comfortably sit atop the 180kW/370Nm of the GTI, but this doesn’t mean it will beat it in a straight line… we’ll get to that soon.

On paper the performance figures offered by the ‘N’ performance pack are quite impressive, but what takes the cake for us is the absolutely raucous exhaust note. With the Variable Exhaust Valve set to open; this thing sounds like a microwave full of gunpowder-coated popcorn with the exhaust in ‘N’ mode. Alright - we’ll stop the comparisons there because I could write an entire article just about that beautiful, violent sound.

How does the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N drive?

This thing is built completely and utterly for the driver, and the driving experience. A lot of marketing pieces say this, not many cars embody it. This one unequivocally does, and even though we’ve spent many hours at the wheel of various i30N’s at the CarSauce Sauce Factory, it still manages to evoke that typical ‘N’ grin as we throw it up Saucy corner.

This thing is definitely THIRSTY. Even with relatively tame highway driving, we were still reaching in the high 9L/100km, and in ‘N’ mode - forget about it.

Since we had the 6-speed manual on hand, we tested the 0-100km/h launch a few times, to “minimise the effect of Matt on the result”. We measured three results, due to lots of traction issues, at 7.6s, 7.3s, 7s respectively. While these times are certainly not impressive, keep in mind that the DCT version is capable of achieving below 5.5 seconds to 100km/h!

Dynamic driving is where this thing shines, and with the facelift you don’t sacrifice as much in the way of comfort for that balance, as you would have in previous iterations. The Korean factory refers to this car as a “corner carving rascal” and it’s hard to argue with the sentiment. This is due to the custom tuning magic it received on the Nurburgring, and it’s Electronic Controlled Suspension. This allows it to tune it’s dampers in real time depending on the road surface and driving style, and you can really feel it take on a different character exactly when you want it to.

In summary, this thing is an ultimate driving machine! Oh wait, where have I heard that before?

What does the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N cost to service?

Hyundai offers a 5 year warranty with a capped price servicing plan of every 12 months/10,000km, with an average cost of $335, for a total 5 year servicing cost of $1675.

Is the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N Safe?

The i30N with 6-speed manual transmission has blind-spot monitoring with blind-spot collision avoidance, autonomous emergency braking, and lane centering assist. However, disappointingly we don’t get any adaptive cruise control. It also has a reverse parking camera with a parking assist system.

Final thoughts - should you buy the 2023 Hyundai i30N Drive-N?

While it is completely opinion-based whether the extra alcantara touch points equate to an added $2500 of value, there’s no doubt that it adds a premium feel when daily driving, and an extra sporty feel when you get into the backroads. So for that, we think it’s an absolute winner.

We were already in love with the i30N, and now that we are entering it’s last few years of production - due to new emissions restrictions in Europe choking its production, this limited edition Drive-N could actually be worth quite a lot in the future, only time will tell…

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Jacob Brooke
Jacob Brooke, a respected voice in the world of automotive journalism, brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to his reviews at CarSauce. His keen eye for detail and passion for all things cars shine through in his in-depth analysis and honest evaluations of the latest models of cars. Join him as he guides readers through the car-buying process and explores the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

206kW + 392Nm

$53,200 + On-roads


No ANCAP score

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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