Hyundai’s new giant-killing entry into the hot hatch market. The i30 N has made an immediate impact with its combination of performance, practicality and value.
So much so it won our comparison test which put it up against the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Focus ST and Subaru WRX.
While the South Korean brand raised eyebrows with its $39,990 starting price, we’re testing the i30 N fitted with the optional Luxury Pack which costs $3000 but brings more creature comforts
Standard equipment for the i30 N includes an active variable exhaust, adjustable suspension, launch control, N body kit, sports seats, leather-appointed steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, digital radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and reversing camera.
If you option the Luxury Pack you add the following to the mix - front parking sensors, LED puddle lights, auto wipers, faux-suede and leather-trimmed seats, 12-way power adjustable front seats, keyless entry and ignition, luggage net and wireless smartphone charging pad.
The i30 N is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission (there’s an auto variant on the way in 2019).
Hyundai Australia opted not to take the standard 184kW tuned version and instead only offer the more potent 202kW and 353Nm engine.
It’s a great hot hatch engine, plenty of torque down low in the rev range and a kick of power as you get closer to the 7000rpm redline.
The six-speed manual is a slick unit, with a short, direct throw and closely packed ratios that’s well suited to the engine.
The i30 N is equipped with a series of drive modes, from Normal to Sport+, for a variety of elements, including the engine response and the gearbox’s rev-matching technology as well as the active exhaust.
There’s a very noticeable difference between the settings too. Select Normal and the engine and exhaust are as docile as any humble hatchback. But dial up Sport+ and the engine feels punchier and the exhaust crackles and pops like a rally car.
We may have had the Luxury Pack but our latest test drive of the i30 N wasn’t a timid one. We took in a track day at Wakefield Park in Goulburn, as the car is covered for such use by Hyundai’s warranty, so we pushed it to its dynamic limits and tested its ability as a long-distance cruiser.
On the track, we dialed up the specific ‘N mode’ which puts everything into its sportiest mode for maximum fun. The i30 N felt at home on the circuit, pulling hard down the straights and hanging on tightly in the bends.
One notable characteristic, not experience on the pre-production model this reviewer drove, is its tail-happy nature. On cold tyres the back end of the N will slide around dramatically and even when the Pirelli P Zero rubbers gets warm it doesn’t take much to induce a small slide. But it’s all easily manageable, rather than unnerving, which only adds to the sense of fun in the i30 N.
Thanks to its electronically-controlled mechanical limited slip differential, the N has excellent drive out of corners for such a powerful front-wheel-drive machine.
But, as with the powertrain, when you turn everything back to ‘Normal’ it feels as easy to live with on the road as a regular i30. The suspension is obviously slightly firmer than an i30 Go but it never feels uncomfortable.
This is really where the Luxury Pack becomes a factor. The i30 is already a favourite in the Drive office in its SR form, and the N builds on it with some simple sporty touches - such as the row of shift lights on the instrument cluster and the N Mode buttons on the steering wheel. But that's about it, so some may find the cabin too similar to the regular i30 to justify the price.
The optional faux-suede and leather-trimmed seats look great and offer good support, and the 12-way power adjustments make finding the right spot easy.
Keyless entry and ignition is a welcome addition too if you plan on using your i30 N on a daily basis. The same is true for the wireless smartphone charging pad in the centre console.
The i30 N ticks off the basics you expect in a modern car, with seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist. There’s no active cruise control available, even on the Luxury Pack, which is disappointing but not a deal-breaker.
An i30 N? Definitely. Hyundai has set a new benchmark for the hot hatch segment by equipping the i30 not just with the performance but also character. Is the Luxury Pack worth the extra $3000? It’s certainly not necessary, as the standard car has all the basics covered, but when you weigh up what you get for the money it’s a good deal if your budget can stretch.
2018 Hyundai i30 N with Luxury Pack pricing and specifications
Price: From $42,990 plus on-road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 202kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 353Nm (378Nm overboost) at 1450-4700rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Fuel use: 8L/100km
Article compliments of www.drive.com.au the best place to find vehicle information online.
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