If your about to lease that European hot hatch, then take a moment to consider an alternative offering from Asia – the surprisingly naughty Hyundai i30N which is ‘turning petrolheads’, should you believe Hyundai’s sales speak. But is this really the case?
Don’t worry, the ‘N’ doesn’t stand for naughty, it actually relates to Hyundai’s ‘N division’ born out of WRC. It stands for ‘Namyang’, home to Hyundai Motor’s global research and development centre in Korea since 1995, where the idea was born, and for the Nürburgring. Although having driven the i30N by Hyundai, it would lead you to believe that the ‘N’ stands for naughty, as the cars characteristics don’t necessarily encourage the best driving etiquette.
What’s the i30N like?
In terms of looks, the styling of the car is subtle enough to look like a sporty sleeper and won’t attract too much attention, but its sharper flairs, fins and aero provided from its spoiler (which does actually work) makes it aggressive enough to have presence on the road when sat on its 19-inch alloy wheels.
Its red inserts resemble those seen from the VW Golf GTI, and colour choice plays a factor in its appearance with the most striking colour, red and black making it look sportier. Hyundai offer the car in six colours, which includes their ‘Performance Blue’ resembling the Gulf Racing blue that is the most recognised colour for the N.
Performance comes from manual 6-speed, 2.0 turbo petrol 2WD engine offering options for 250PS (N) or 275PS (N Performance). SMC had the advantage of reviewing and testing the N Performance version, which delivers a top speed of 155 mph and a 0-60 time of just 5.9 seconds, however we believe the real-world acceleration is slightly quicker than this when the vehicle is set to its ‘Custom’ mode and many customers and motoring journalist online have identified this has also been found in their own physical timed tests.
Cornering and handling has to be one of the main highlights of the car, however its firm ride can be too much for some, but tweaking the electronic controlled suspension (ECS) settings you’ll feel some ride improvements.
For some, the exhaust sound is a highlight, but for others it is over the top and unnecessary. When set in performance or tuning the custom modes, to the delight of your neighbours the exhaust will snap, crackle and pop like your favourite childhood breakfast cereal on pretty much every gear upshift or rev. So although Hyundai’s claims it’s ‘turning petrolheads’, it will also turn the heads of everyone else in your neighbourhood for that matter. However, for many drivers on a cusp of a midlife crisis this sound will rekindle their love for the turbo hot hatch of days gone by, reminiscing in the sound that Group N rally cars used to make.
Although the i30N is a lot fun to drive and over the top at times, the car can be, and is practical, offering 5 doors, 5 seats and an NCAP safety rating of 5 stars. For many they will not get bored of the i30N, as it will put a smile on the face of everyone who drives it.
What its running costs like?
Although official mpg figures state it is just under 40mpg, in real driving conditions you’ll be seeing around 28mpg, of which you will struggle to improve on if you leave the car in the N performance or spec’d up custom modes, due to the manufactured exhaust characteristics which don’t encourage the most efficient driving. With a NGC rating of 55, the i30N is not one of the greenest family small cars, but if you’ve been considering this car, you’re probably not an eco-warrior.
CO2 g/km: 163
The Hyundai i30N is not as quick as some of the other faster hot hatchbacks in a straight line, but it’s a great drivers car with great performance and excellent handling.
Key to this was the fact that the i30N was developed by Ex-BMW M boss Albert Biermann with the N division who have produced an incredible chassis and steering. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the i30N has been coming out on top with many auto journalist and raising the eyebrows at some of the European car manufacturer HQ’s.
On top of all this, the car is also competitively priced and offers a quality finish with more top equipment inside than most of its competition. For a first effort, the Hyundai i30N is an impressive vehicle which has firmly put Hyundai up there as a definite car for consideration and won over many motoring journalists in the process.
Watch this space, there are signs emerging that Hyundai plan to extend their N performance range with an i30N sportback and potentially Veloster N (unconfirmed), which we could see come to the UK if sales of the i30N continue to grow. We also wouldn’t put it past Hyundai to challenge Ford’s Fiesta ST and Renault’s Clio RS by potential introducing an N version of the i20 in the future, which is the model used for Hyundai’s WRC team.
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