There’s no point arriving late to a party and trying to slink in and pretend you’ve been there for ages. You’ve gotta kick the door open with gusto and make sure everyone notices as you confidently stride on in. Hyundai has recently done that with their all-new Hyundai i30N and given they have no experience in hot hatchery, they’ve done a remarkable job.
While it may not get an A+, except in the value stakes, its total capabilities put it close to the top of the class, which is something many of its competitors have never achieved. At a glance you’d be hard pressed to pick it as the stove hot one. Just another Hyundai i30 with a few bells and whistles. The giveaways are the larger exhaust and 19-inch rims inside Pirelli tyres. I like the sleeper look, which is totally opposite to the look at me Honda Civic Type R.
Within the first few minutes of driving, its sizeable dose of power is obvious, likewise its overall sportiness that infectiously grows the more time you spend with it.
The Hyundai i30N is one of a select band of the 200-plus kilowatt club, along with the much more expensive Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf R, Audi S3 and BMW M140i and Mercedes A45 AMG, pretty exalted company.
Its heart is a two-litre twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder engine that pulls strongly from just 1500 rpm right to the 6800 RPM red line that heralds its arrival with a series of gear shift lights appearing in the dash pinnacle. Love it.
There is a lot of theatre driving the i30N, every upshift and downshift of the slick six-speed manual gearbox is met with a volley of pops that crackles through its exhaust that permeate the cabin, its mechanical limited-slip differential and firm electronically controlled suspension has it hugging every corner apex without compromising its ride quality, the well-weighted steering is communicative and pin sharp and its meaty brakes do a great job at rapidly reducing speed. It is very much an enthusiast’s car, rewarding to drive and one that eggs you on to try and find its limits.
In the wet I found it understeered a bit when you mash the throttle, as the traction control struggles to contain its power, resulting in a tad of front shudder, but when feeding the power on with more finesse, there’s none of that.
Being a Hyundai, it is kitted out with every conceivable feature imaginable including a full spread of safety systems and driver assist technologies, plus rain sensing wipers, active variable exhaust, electronic control suspension, launch control, selectable drive modes, a race computer, power windows and mirrors, power adjustable (with memory) heated sports seats in suede and leather, a heated steering wheel, parking sensors front and back, a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Andorid Auto, park assist, cruise control, dual zone air, auto wipers and lights, even solar control windscreen glass.
Although there are a few hard plastic surfaces and the interior ambience isn’t that of the benchmark Volkswagen GTI, I don’t think that matters much in a hot hatch. Not to me anyway, as I’d much rather the engineers spend money on making it go, stop and handle, (which is why we buy them and what Hyundai has done) rather than fitting extra gizmos or upmarket fixtures and fittings. The only minor flaw is the pedal placement that isn’t ideal for heel-and-toe downshifts, and though it has a rev matching function, I prefer the old school way of doing it myself.
The completeness of the Hyundai i30N cannot be praised highly enough and there is no doubt it has reached hot hatch greatness at its first attempt.
It really is an exceptional car for an exceptional price.