Hyundai finally has a hot hatch to bolster its range, with the reveal last week of the i30 N. Aimed squarely at the likes of the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the N follows convention by being front-wheel drive and powered by a two-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
With 247bhp on tap, performance figures are near identical to its most obvious rivals, with 0-62mph taking 6.4 seconds. An optional Performance Pack should be specified by all buyers, as this boosts power to 271bhp, and adds a grip-creating limited slip differential, lowered suspension, 19-inch wheels with sticky Pirelli P-Zero tyres, and a sports exhaust.
Despite being developed at the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife, outright performance isn’t Hyundai’s goal with the N. Instead, it’s promising accessible performance and driving engagement that brings smiles at relatively low speeds. Forget claims of lap records and the bone-shaking ride quality that usually entails.
Instead expect invigorating handling and a bit of manufactured drama to make the car feel more emotional, such as race-car like pops and bangs from the sports exhaust. That’ll be hidden behind more subtle bodywork than can be found on the Civic Type R, with a front spoiler and rear diffuser picked out with some red detailing, and a few extra vents and spoilers dotted around the car. Inside it’s pretty conventional, with the standard i30 cabin carried over, but the N gets a sports wheel with special Drive Mode selector, a more tactile gear knob, some supportive seats and a load of blue stitching around the interior to remind you this is the N.
First drives of the Hyundai i30 N will be in the autumn, but this is just the first in a range of N models the South Korean manufacturer will be introducing. There’s already talk of four-wheel drive, steering-wheel mounted gearshift paddles, and the N badge making its way across the entire Hyundai range. If the promised performance materialises, and Hyundai’s value-led proposition remains, the N range could be the perfect antidote to the hardcore hot hatches dominating the market.