Cons: Faster hot hatch rivals, understated interior, new kid on the block
This is the i30N, Hyundai’s first ever hot hatchback, and it goes head-to-head with long-established names in the space such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, SEAT Leon CUPRA and Honda Civic Type R. The i30N has the necessary ingridents for success in this corner of the market too, with sporty styling , a powerful 275hp turbocharged petrol engine and a suite of customisable driving modes for road and track. The hot hatch class is one of the most hotly contested of all, and the i30N will need to be particularly impressive to compete with its rivals. We spent a week with the N on Irish roads recently to see if Hyundai’s fastest production car ever is as exciting to drive as it looks.
What is it like?
The i30N is the first car to come from Hyundai’s N Division, which stands for Namyang, the region where it was developed in South Korea, and Nürburgring, the legendary German race circuit where its handling was honed. The i30N is racier than the standard Hyundai i30 hatchback on which it is based, thanks to aggressive front bumpers and air intakes, eye catching diffusers, a rear spoiler and twin exhausts pipes. That said, it isn’t quite as brash as the Honda Civic Type R or Ford Focus RS in terms of styling. The i30N sits 8mm lower to the ground than the regular Hyundai i30 too, and Irish specification models are fitted with gorgeous 19-inch alloy wheels and large red brake callipers as standard. There are six colour choices, but we reckon this Performance Blue colour scheme is the best of the bunch.
Stepping inside, the i30N is dressed with N badges throughout the cabin and a pair of supportive body-hugging sports seats. The cabin is well-appointed with high quality materials, but it doesn’t feel particularly special due to the black colouring and finish. Notable features include a sports steering wheel with driving mode buttons, aluminium sports pedals and a sports gear knob emblazoned with the N logo. Hyundai’s eight-inch touch screen infotainment system is included as standard and it features satellite navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There are plenty of areas to stow away items in the cabin too, and the 395-litre boot is spacious enough for daily requirements, so the i30N ticks the boxes in terms of practicality.
The i30N has a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which produces 250hp, however the N Performance model that we drove has a boosted power output of 275hp. The i30N lays its power down on the road through the front wheels and a short-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds with a limited top speed of 250km/h. It has lots of low down punch and probably the best exhaust sound of any hot hatch on the market right now, with superior performance credentials to the Volkswagen Golf GTi. Different driving modes can be selected through the touch screen infotainment system or buttons on the steering wheel, including ‘Normal, ‘Sport’ ‘N’ and ‘N Custom’. The custom mode is hugely impressive with over 2,000 potential combinations to adjust the chassis setup, engine settings and lots more.
The i30N is more driver-focused than the normal i30 thanks to a lowered ride height, adaptive dampers and customisable driving modes. The steering is precise and well weighted, and body roll is minimal. The i30N delivers huge amounts of front end grip and we found the ‘Sport’ setting to be the best-suited for Irish roads. The raw ‘N’ modes are simply too focused and firm for bumpy back roads. The i30N is quite refined and comfortable for daily driving, and the adaptive suspension can be adjusted to suit different surfaces. The large 19-inch alloy wheels are firm and noisy at higher speeds, but that is to be expected in the hot hatch class.
Prices for the new Hyundai i30N start from €39,995 in Ireland and it is similarly priced to the entry level Volkswagen Golf GTi. The i30N is undoubtedly one of the best-equipped and best-value hot hatches on the market right now, with features such as LED headlights, electric memory sports seats, an eight-inch touchscreen system, a reversing camera, keyless entry and lots more included as standard. One of the most impressive features of the i30N however is its customisable driving modes and it is a key selling point over its rivals which don’t offer the same levels of customisation.
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
The i30N may be Hyundai’s first ever hot hatchback, but it is a highly accomplished and exciting one at that. It’s thrilling to drive, very well-equipped and packs a superb engine which is suited to daily driving or bouts on track too. What’s more, the i30N is practical enough for daily use and it is competitively-priced too. The i30N is competing against well-seasoned competition with superior power and performance credentials however, so it still has a lot to prove. We would have expected the interior to be more visually pleasing too. That said, Hyundai has created an excellent hot hatch package on its first attempt, and it bodes very well for the firm’s N Division for the foreseeable.
The new Hyundai i30N is exclusively available at the following Hyundai dealerships in Ireland.