Hyundai i30 takes performance to the Nth degree
PUBLISHED: 14:42 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:42 05 January 2018
Hyundai launches its new i30 N hot-hatchback this week, debut model of its new performance range. Motoring editor Andy Russell puts it through its paces.
Hyundai doesn’t do anything by halves. When the Korean car-maker decided to move up another gear, and sharpen its image, with a hot-hatch halo model it didn’t just bolting on a big turbo and performance parts.
It was all about creating a new culture so three years ago it brought in Albert Biermann who, for two decades masterminded BMW’s high-performance M cars – turning mainstream bread-and-butter models into spicy, sporty specials.
Riding high on Hyundai’s world rallying success, the result was the new N performance range, debuting with the i30 N hot-hatch.
So what is the N factor?
‘N’ stands for Namyang, Hyundai’s global research and development centre in Korea where the i30 N was born, and Nurburgring, the demanding German circuit and home to its European test centre, where it was honed.
Apart from sitting up to 8mm lower than the standard hatch, big alloy wheels, sportier bumpers and a rather pale, but too pretty, new performance blue colour, the N model is more about adding driving zing than styling zing.
This is where the money has gone with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and a highly-customisable driving experience to tweak throttle response, electronic suspension stiffness, stability control and steering weight.
Under the bonnet
Two versions of the engine are offered – 250PS in the i30 N and 275PS in the N Performance model.
Both boast launch control, a flexible, free-revving power delivery with extra torque on over boost and a rev-match function for slicker downshifts but you’re hard pressed to notice the Performance model’s slight advantage.
As part of the £3,000 price hike over the standard N model, it gains and electronic limited slip differential, upgraded brakes, leather and suede electric seats and an active variable exhaust system and electronic engine sound enhancer. Lift off the throttle in track-focused N or Custom drive modes and the exhaust crackles and pops like a firework – totally unnecessary but the ultimate ‘go-fast stripes’!
How it drives
As well as its price, the i30 N also scores highly as a practical, five-door, family hatchback – a car you can take granny out in without rattling her teeth.
Don’t get me wrong, you can make things more extreme, toggling through drive modes via buttons on the steering wheel to change its character. But, for road use, stick to eco and normal modes for softer damping and better ride comfort, without sacrificing handling, because even sport mode can be jarring on bumpy roads.
Hyundai launched the i30 N at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire – a narrow, twisty circuit best suited to motorcycle racing – which really showed off its sharp handling, responsive steering and tenacious grip while being held firmly by well-bolstered front sports seats.
Space and comfort
The basic interior and dashboard are straight out of the standard i30, with a few sporty upgrades – such extra driving information including lap and acceleration timers and engine torque, turbo boost and g-force displays – switchgear and front seats.
Some may say that’s disappointing but on the plus side you still have a five-door hatchback with decent rear legroom for average-sized adults and a 395-litre boot – 381 in the Performance model with its bracing bar between the wheel arches.
Hyundai’s i30 N is not as powerful, aggressive or brutal as some rivals but sometimes less is more and that’s the case here. Hyundai’s new halo hot-hatch is more useable on road – and very affordable – which makes it an undemanding daily drive and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Hyundai i30 N £24,995 (N Performance £27,995)
Engine: 1,998cc, 250PS (275PS), four-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 6.4 seconds; top speed 155mph (6.1 seconds, 155mph)
MPG: Urban 29.7; extra urban 51.4; combined 40.4 (29.1, 49.6, 39.8)
CO2 emissions: 159g/km (163g/km)
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 30pc (31pc)
Insurance group: (out of 50) 27E (28E)
Warranty: Five years, unlimited mileage
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,335mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,795mm; H 1,451mm (1,447mm)