Engine/Transmission: 2.0 litre – 6 Speed manual
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 8.0L/100km combined
Price: From $45,447 drive away
Wow! This little car is o-l-d s-k-o-o-l! It’s like Hyundai have conducted a séance and spoken to the spirits of every hot hatch hero from the past and then turned the volume up to eleven.
It channels Peugeot 205GTi in its rawness and propensity to torque steer, Seat Ibiza GTi in its cheeky anarchy, sticking it to the traditional players and early Renault Megane in its epic, epic engine. This car is a bloody ripper, but make sure it’s ‘hot hatch’ you want because the i30N only comes in one flavour – hot, hot, hot hatch.
I make no secret of the fact that I love the way Hyundai integrate tech into their cars. It’s there if you want it, but for the most part it is seamlessly integrated behind old fashioned, high quality buttons and switches. It’s a very well equipped car given its sub $50k price and performance.
Heated suede and electrically adjustable seats, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, navigation and a kinda fun, but ultimately pointless ‘N mode’, reporting on vital statistics such as lateral and longitudinal g forces, power, torque, and even turbo boost! See, I told you it was old skool! A boost gauge, just like a Cordia.
There is so much to love about this car. The seats are supportive and comfy. The bi-modal exhaust is fun, complete with pops, bangs and farts. The rev-match function is brilliant. The five door hatch format is as practical as ever. The ride in N mode is brittle, but well controlled.
The mechanical grip offered by the model specific Pirelli P Zero’s is commendable (but will be a pricey and regular maintenance issue). Combined, all of these factors produce one hell of a hot hatch. Importantly, it is a car that demands that you actively work on giving it your best. I like that.
Not So Impressive:
Actually, the Cordia comparison isn’t a bad one to make. The i30 N really is like a 2020 Mitsubishi Cordia. Infinitely better, of course, but there is an edge to the i30 that you are going to either love or hate.
No matter how fancy the electro-mechanical LSD or the electronically adjustable dampers, there is no getting around the laws of physics when you are pushing this much power and torque (202kw/378nm) through the front wheels.
When you give it some welly, it sure lets you know that you better know what you’re doing. In ten to fifteen years, when second hand i30 Ns are cheap as chips, parents are going to have to ensure those P platers have had some advanced driver training to handle it!
On a Test Drive:
Check that you really do want a hot hatch. I’ve owned heaps and I love the formula, but an MX5, for example, is a better driver’s car in every way. Still, no MX5 on Earth can combine practicality and performance like this little car can do.