Caroline reviews the Hyundai i30 N Performance.
The Hyundai i30 N is Hyundai’s new high performance hot hatchback and it’s a strong sign of the Korean brand’s ambition. Not content with just being a maker of normal hatchbacks and SUVs, Hyundai’s N division was set up to create sporty models for the brand.
So enter the Hyundai i30 N, the first N model to reach these shores and the brand’s first ever hot hatchback.
Inspired by Hyundai Motorsport’s adventures on the rally stages of the world and honed on the Nürburgring, the new Hyundai i30 N makes a ferocious entrance.
Well, the ‘baby blue’ finish on the test car – it’s actually called Performance Blue – might not look all that ferocious but there are enough bits added to give the i30 N a meaty makeover. And that’s before you even start the thing up. Because believe me the noise that comes out of that exhaust is far from meek!
To mark it out as a more potent version of the i30, the Hyundai i30 N has 19″ alloy wheels, an orange lip spoiler, black side skirts, black roof spoiler, and a rear diffuser with two mighty exhaust pipes peeping out.
So what’s under the bonnet?
The Hyundai i30 N is a front wheel drive hot hatchback and in its entry guise it has 250hp from a four cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. But Hyundai Ireland is selling the full fat i30 N Performance with 275hp with a list price of €39,995. Yay!
There’s 353 Nm of torque with up to 378 Nm available on overboost. That brings the i30 N to 100 kmh from 0 in 6.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 250 km/h, and there’s some delicious power exploitation to be had through the i30 N’s 6-speed manual gearbox.
But the performance figures only tell half the story.
You start the i30 N and I swear it idles like a rally car. It has one of the best idle notes I’ve heard from a hot hatchback in a long time. Then before you move – if you can wait that long – there’s a chance to fiddle around with some of the different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco, N and Custom. My favourite was Custom because I could set the car up to my preferred settings. I loved the detail. I could change everything from the engine throttle response and suspension stiffness to the stability control, rev-matching intensity, steering weight, electronic slip differential and even the exhaust sound!
What’s the Hyundai i30 N Performance like to drive?
So then you get going in the Hyundai i30 N Performance and soon you will discover that this is a very good and very addictive hot hatchback. There’s drama to the i30 N that is reminiscent of the Ford Focus RS. Pops and bangs on the overun will keep the fun coming while the handling is super tight and controlled through corners. You can pull the i30 N into the corner and commit to the throttle with absolute grip and stability. It’s really impressive.
The steering is very heavy even in its ‘lightest’ setting and it’s not huge on feedback either. But it is direct and precise so it does’t really distract from what is a very exciting and addictive driving experience!
The ride comfort varies in that it is naturally on the firm side but still very much manageable for day to day driving. There is a customised N mode, where it gets very stiff so that’s probably best left for the track.
My fuel consumption over a week of driving was 7.5l/100km.
Is the i30 N a hot but practical hatchback?
In terms of the cabin space and feel, it’s pretty much identical to the standard i30, except for some N badging, a sports steering wheel with two large blue buttons to switch performance settings, and lovely bolstered sports seats. There is seating for five like any hatchback of this size though the i30 wouldn’t be the most spacious of its ilk in the rear seating; but the boot is a good size at 381 litres.
In terms of spec, you get all the accoutrements of the N designation including the body kit, 19″ alloys, Pirelli tyres, and sports seats, as well as LED headlamps, dual zone air con, 8″ touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, rear parking camera, keyless entry, autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist.
The Hyundai i30 N Performance really surprised me for its commitment to the hot hatchback genre; after driving it I can say that it really can compete with the best of them. It doesn’t feel that Hyundai tried to create an imitation of a Golf GTI – the i30 N has its own personality very much inspired by Hyundai Motorsport. While it doesn’t have that cosseting comfort and refinement of the Volkswagen, it’s so likable and addictive for its raucous and raw personality. Mechanically it feels engineered to excite and believe me it does just that. The Hyundai i30 N Performance is a real triumph for Hyundai!
Model tested: Hyundai i30 N Performance
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h
CO2 emissions: 163 g/km
Motor tax: €570 per year