We Drive the Hyundai i30 N
Rewind your mind to a little over a year ago. If someone told you that Hyundai are planning to release a hot hatch, but not just any hot hatch, a hot hatch that would bring the fight to every one of the great hatches we know and love, would you have believed them? Probably not. Welcome the Hyundai i30 N.
You see, performance hatches and Hyundai have never really belonged in the same sentence together, it’s kind of like Ben and Jerrys offering a zero-sugar ice-cream, one would think it’s going to be a bit “pap”.
However, Hyundai have been clever and found themselves a person who knows the in’s and out’s of this performancy kind of stuff. His name is Albert Biermann and he once headed up the BMW M Performance division. This is quite a statement from Hyundai, so how does the i3o N fair?
It Means Business
Glare at the Hyundai i30 N and you will get a deathly stare back, it looks mean from every angle. Sitting low, the artic blue paint reminds me that this colour has been discontinued, which means we needed to stay far away from bushes, curbs and anything untoward that could cause damage. My favourite angle? The rear. Its small wing and diffuser complement the wide stance, dual tailpipes and bright rear lights nicely. Hyundai are not playing around.
For those who don’t know, you may think it’s all show and no go, however, if you are even just so slightly interested in cars you will know that this is not the case. 285bhp (202kW) and 400Nm on tap means theHyundai i30 N already shows the Golf GTI it’s mother on paper, but what about on the road?
What is it like to drive?
For me, a great hot hatch is one that makes you smile. After all, they are built to be fun right? A mixture of performance, response, chassis and sound are all major components they make up the perfect hatch. Quite frankly, the Hyundai i30 N delivers in all departments.
The wave of boost that hits in the lower RPM range Is addictive. I love the surge of power and boost that kicks in and doesn’t ever seem to fade out. Coupled with the heavy clutch and clunky, solid gearbox, the feeling can only be described as real. No other hot hatch sounds like this, the crackle and pops produced literally makes people walking on the side of the road to stop, turn around and put their hands in the air – sorry love, this is straight from the manufacturer.
The i30N also lives up to its nickname“Corner Rascal” . I was going to say the front end is to die for, but that’s probably an overstatement. It is wonderfully sharp and grippy and when partnered with the balanced chassis and limited slip diff, you’d have to be doing something wild to find understeer. Hyundai didn’t lie when they told us this car is measured in BPM and not RPM – it really does get the blood pumping. Did I mention the noise?
A choice of 5 driving modes are available, you know, the usual Eco, Comfort, Sport that seem to come on most new vehicles nowadays, but, If you want to get straight to the main action then a simple press of the blue N button on the steering wheel will do the trick – I wonder what this is similar too, it’s at the back of my mind and I just can’t remember…
I digress, The N will activate everything and anything that brings out the dark side of the Hyundai i30 N’s personality. Hit it again, and the system activates your custom N settings which are programmed through the main interface. You will probably use this if you’re fussy like Richard, as he likes everything in sport apart from steering feel which MUST stay in comfort – lame.
Technology in the i30 N
I was quite taken aback when I found technology such as wireless charging, autonomous emergency braking, collision warning and a lane keep assist technology which works much more like semi-autonomous driving. Rev matching is also a treat, making downshifts much more pleasant as well as sounding fantastic. If you’ve been driving long enough though, you can turn this off from the steering wheel and work your magic with the old heel and toe situation. Of course, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are also thrown into the mix to end of a great bunch of tech.
Does it lack anything?
Dampers. It lacks dampers. Yes, the ride is particularly firm but in all seriousness, it doesn’t really lack anything. You have everything you need and more in terms of tech and performance. If you are going to compare this against a Golf or other German hatchbacks, then it won’t give you the same premium feel and trims. It’s more plastically, and obviously not as comfortable. If your looking for a fast hatch which isn’t going to break your back then this probably isn’t the hatch for you. It’s not going to be great if you undertake a long commute on a daily basis either, but if you are looking for true hot hatch experience then you won’t go wrong with the Hyundai i30 N.
How does it compare to other hatches?
I’ve not driven every hot hatch ever made, and there are a few new models that I still need to get behind the wheel of, such as the Megane R.S. However, from what I have driven, it definitely provides one of the rawest, fun and visceral driving experiences. I have spent many hours and corners behind the wheel of a GTI Clubsport, they both feature very positive front ends and similar driving traits, however, the Clubsport is DSG – which leads me onto think that a Clubsport S with a manual box, reduction in weight and increase in more power might just result in a driving experience that pips the i30N. Either way, I’m just going to have to wait to find out.
Learn More: https://www.hyundai.co.uk/new-cars/i30n
Also published on Medium.