Back in March I had the opportunity to fly around Victoria’s Winton Motor Raceway in Hyundai’s first production performance car, the i30 N hatch. Based on the popular and highly capable i30 platform it proved to be a genuine hot hatch. But what’s it like to live with as a daily drive? I’ve been commuting back and forth to the new EFTM office this week in one, here’s the go.
What is it?
Put simply this is a souped-up Hyundai i30. The ‘N’ performance division is to Hyundai what ‘M’ is to BMW or AMG to Mercedes-Benz, minus the decades of experience. The i30 N is the first attempt by the brand to showcase its talents as a serious contender in the performance space.
The result as I mentioned in my launch review is an exceedingly capable hatch, one that defies logic given this is Hyundai’s first attempt at delivering something that can really take on the big guns.
The design team has managed to alter the i30’s looks just enough for people to actually stop me and ask, what is that? The twin-tailpipes, lower stance, performance tyres and some added aerodynamic flair indicate clearly that this is something a tad special.
Then there’s the sound…
Behind the Wheel.
The i30 N turns people into meerkats, they stop and stand taller than usual to have a good look. This is mainly due to the unexpected soundtrack. The car arrives like a boozy teenager coming home at 5am in the morning, smashing over things and generally being raucous and belligerent. It behaves like no other Hyundai before it, at idle it pops away with a deep base note. Changing up a gear at higher revs produces a couple of horse whip cracks out the rear end, it really is a crazy cat.
Then there’s the multifaceted drive experience. Select normal mode and you’re able to scoot around town like any other hatch on the road. The ride is a tad firmer than usual, but I doubt even your grandmother would notice. When required the i30 N is a straight A student, but there’s a dark and sinister soul lurking beneath.
There’s a button on the steering wheel with a chequered flag printed on it. Pushing that changes forward momentum dramatically. This ‘N’ mode function turns the i30 N into a ball of anxiety, one that wants to explode in a fit of rage.
First the adaptive suspension dramatically stiffens, steering inputs become scissor-like, the exhaust goes from courteous to just plain rude in an instant and the throttle begs for a solid beating. This is a Hyundai remember.
Normally you’d think a six-speed manual that sends a huge amount of punch through the front wheels would be a nightmare, but this is not so. A trick sports differential directs power carefully and instantly to the appropriate wheel, making for a spectacularly fun drive though the twisty bits.
The specially designed Pirelli P-Zero tyres grip almost beyond what you’d assume were the cars limits. Stopping power is just as effective, via Hyundai branded calipers and pads. Who needs a Brembo set! There’s no doubt that this a skilfully executed machine, one that is both track and road ready. The i30 N is the best all-rounder hot hatch I’ve driven.
Aside from the obvious performance delights on offer, this is a typical i30 on the technology front. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is standard along with satellite navigation plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via an eight-inch colour touchscreen. A luxury pack option adds a wireless inductive charging pad for smartphones plus automatic wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and some suede inserts and leather bolsters among others.
Prices start at $39,990 before on roads. The Luxury Pack adds an extra $3,000 and you can option a panoramic sunroof to the same package for an extra $2,000. The claimed fuel economy is 6.4L/100km, I say good luck with that. I averaged 10.3L/100km.
Why Would You Buy One?
Because you’d like a long five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, that also covers non-competitive track use. Even with a set of slicks on. You’d also consider one if you can cope with not having a European badge, but most importantly there’s the below figures.
The i30 N uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine packing 202kW at 6,000rpm and 353Nm between 1,450rpm to 4,700rpm.The turbocharger includes an overboost function that sends torque to 378Nm for up to 18 seconds.
The easy shifting six-speed manual transmission sends power via the front wheels. There’s also a rev matching function that allows for seamless downshifts without the need for some heal and toe action.
After a week I’m pretty much sold on Hyundai’s effort. There’s also a fastback variant on the way next year. I dare even the most staunch European performance hatch fanatic to jump in one of these and disagree with any of the above. The Hyundai i30 N is a 9 out of 10 from me.