Driven: Hyundai i30N

Driven: Hyundai i30N
Driven: Hyundai i30N

The Korean company has a new performance brand, and we drive the N

Hyundai is a vast conglomerate that is taking aim at quite a few automotive sectors where we haven’t expected to see it. The hot hatch market is about to get a new entrant thanks to Hyundai’s new N performance brand. As yet it’s still at prototype stage – but we’ve driven the i30N.

The car shows that Hyundai appreciates that the hot hatch market is maturing. The sector still wants a performance car with sharp handling, but it also wants some creature comforts and practicality too.

Hyundai i30N prototype

Price £28,000 (est)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 270bhp (est)
Torque: TBC
0-62mph: less than 6.5sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Economy: TBC
CO2/BIK band: TBC

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is good for 270bhp, and works solidly if not spectacularly in Normal mode. Pump the mode up to the top N mode and the exhaust starts to snap and crackle, and the engine starts to respond quicker. It’s still not a rocketship, and it can be a trifle rough in higher modes, so it’s not the best part of the package.

With the car in the mid Sport mode though the suspension, with adaptive damping, works incredibly well to iron out the bumps and keep the body under firm control. It’s really impressive like this, helped further by the steering weighting up perfectly, with quite a bit of feel.

Hyundai i30N

If you put it in top N mode, however, you’ll need to be on smooth roads to get the most out of it. On more normal roads it’s simply too hard. Find a smooth stretch though and you’ll appreciate the very hot hatch handling.

That much we could tell from our relatively short drive, but the cabin is more disguised as prototypes often are. Much of the spacious, practical cabin of the standard i30 is there, and that’s a good place to start. The seats are comfy and hold you firmly in position and it looks like there will be some interesting aspects to the digital dash, including digital gearshift lights.

For now, we’ll have to be patient to see the finished product and the price list, but the i30N prototype is certainly a sound staging post on the journey. We’re impressed with the handling and ride, which are just what hot hatch owners will be looking for. The engine perhaps needs refining a bit further if Hyundai really wants to compete with the lines of the Golf GTI but in years to come we may accept the N brand in the same way as we accept VW’s GTI brand.

Hyundai i30N


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