Hyundai i30N review


What is?

This is Hyundai’s first real performance car. There have been efforts before, slightly hot hatches and big-bumper F2 editions of the beautiful ’90s Hyundai coupe, but nothing with around 300bhp and a development program overseen by a former BMW M boss.

The i30N has been developed to a much greater depth than any speedy Hyundai before it, and you’ll know it before the wheels have turned an inch. An illuminated tachometer whose redline moves as the engine warms up, the ability to channel your favorite mix of chassis setups with the push of a button, a manual gearbox and parking brake…it’s a car that has been perfected by driving enthusiasts without giving in to the needs of marketing and other departments.

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The rudest might point out that many of those nods were lifted wholesale from BMW M cars of the last decade. We would respond by pointing out that there are worse places to take inspiration from, and that Hyundai N boss Albert Biermann, as former head of the M division, has every right to bring the best parts of his old workplace to his new workplace. . . Rumors that he too took a bag full of Sharpies and file dividers from the stationary cabinet on his way out? Neither confirmed nor denied.

How does the i30N compare on paper?

So the specifications of the i30N. It won’t win a Top Trumps game, but in an increasingly crazed hatchback market, there’s a lot to like about it. Its 2.0-liter turbo engine drives only the front wheels, through a standard six-speed manual gearbox.

At launch you had two specs to choose from: a base car with 247bhp, sport seats, a full suite of tunable drive modes and launch control. An extra £3000 snatched up a Performance Pack with a raucous sports exhaust, limited-slip differential for more precise handling and 19-inch wheels with grippier tyres, plus another 24hp.

Changes since its launch?

It turned out so good that for the i30N’s midlife update, Hyundai dropped the base model in the UK. It also increased the power of the remaining model (up to a modest 5hp, to 276hp), lightened it up a bit, gave it stronger brakes and new tires and added the option of shock! – an eight-speed paddle gearbox. New headlights and taillights and larger exhaust pipes seemed almost symbolic when the rest of the facelift was so carefully considered.

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Oh, and if a no-nonsense old hatchback isn’t quite your style, the i30N also comes in Fastback form, shown in the gallery above in grey. It’s still a sedan, but it was designed to look like a sedan. It’s Hyundai’s attempt to break the Mercedes CLA market and adds £500 to the asking price, but brings with it more boot space.

What’s the verdict?

Hyundai’s first high-performance car, and it did. Few hot hatches are as much fun to drive

There are few other hot hatchbacks that demonstrate such a transformation from its base car. The regular i30 is competent, but sensitive to anonymity. The i30N is fast, fun and capable of bringing out your inner rascal just a few meters after starting. Like all the big hot hatches. And make no mistake, it’s a great hot hatch. Whatever body shape or gearbox you choose. Just be prepared for some hefty fuel bills…

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2021 Hyundai i30N hot hatch cornering

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