HYUNDAI’S first proper performance car has been revealed in production form, with the hugely-anticipated Hyundai i30 N officially breaking cover and showing off the most aggressive-looking bodywork to hail from the Korean peninsula since the Veloster Turbo.
And it’ll have the firepower to back up its taekwondo stance. The i30 N’s boosted 2.0-litre T-GDI turbo petrol inline four develops maximums of 202kW and 353Nm, ultra-competitive figures when lined up against the 169kW Volkswagen Golf GTI, 184kW Ford Focus ST and 202kW Peugeot 308 GTI 270.
Driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual – an 8-speed dual clutch is expected within two years – the i30 N features an available electronic limited slip differential (E-LSD) to help rein in wheelspin and improve traction on corner exit.
Hyundai promises that “real enthusiasts” will be able to deactivate all stability aids as well, should they seek, in Hyundai’s own words, “maximum freedom”. That’s an encouraging thing to see in a press release.
A lower-output 184kW trim will also be offered, which makes the same 353Nm peak torque output but misses out on the E-LSD of the high-output 202kW Performance Package engine. The 184kW trim will be able to hit 100km/h in 6.4 seconds with the aid of launch control, while the 202kW derivative is a touch quicker at 6.2 seconds.
Helping the i30 N handle is an N-specific suspension that differs markedly to what you’ll find underneath a regular i30.
The i30 N’s front crossmember is completely unique and features special suspension geometry and settings to help with crisp turn-in and maximum traction, while the rear multi-link is similar to an i30 SR’s hardware, but enhanced by unique spring rates.
Electronically adjustable dampers sit at all four corners, and vary their damping force depending on which of the five drive modes is selected. Kerb weight is listed at 1400kg for the 184kW i30 N, with the Performance Package model tipping the scales at 1429kg.
The steering ratio is unique for both models, and the i30 N gets a rack-mounted rather than column-mounted assistance motor for better steering feel. Ride height measures in at 4mm lower than a standard i30 when the i30 N is rolling on 18-inch wheels, or 8mm lower when optioned with 19-inch alloys.
Exhaust flaps turn up the volume on the engine note when the drive mode selector is pointed to one of its sportier settings, and it’s further augmented by an Electronic Sound Generator that pipes more sound through the firewall.
The press release also makes mention of something called “after-fire sound” when N Mode is selected. Prepare thy eardrums.
Other adrenaline-inducing features include a performance meter function for the infotainment system that displays, among other things, G-forces, lap times and boost pressure, while a shift light is nested into the instrument cluster.
The tachometer’s redline also changes, BMW M3 style, depending on whether the engine oil is up to temperature or not.
There’s also downshift rev matching, an overboost feature that boosts torque by eight percent (to around 380Nm), and launch control. How does it drive? Well we’ve driven the i30 N before in prototype form and it’s got the goods.
Clothing it all is an aggressive bodykit featuring a gaping grille opening flanked by M3-style ‘cheeks’ on the outboard corners of the front bumper, with a large N badge screwed into the open-mesh grille itself.
A red pinstripe spans the lower lip, which is painted black, and those extra ducts aren’t merely cosmetic – they help funnel cool air to the front brakes.
Around the back, a sizable wing sprouts from the top of the i30’s tailgate and houses a triangle-shaped stop lamp. Underneath, the rear bumper hangs lower, features sharper contouring and frames a pair of oval exhaust tips.
Available with either 18- or 19-inch wheels (19s for the Performance Package), the i30 N’s rolling stock encloses a performance brake package with red sliding calipers front and rear and larger rotors.
The i30 N is Hyundai’s first concerted effort to offer a bona-fide performance product, and is the culmination of years of intense development – including 10,000km of driving on the Nurburgring Nordschleife alone, plus a stint in wheel-to-wheel competition at the gruelling ADAC Nurburgring 24-hour.
Performance Blue is the hero colour, with white, grey, black, red and a colour called “Clean Slate” all in the i30 N palette.
Local specifications have yet to be confirmed, but expect the i30 N to go on sale overseas around the end of this year with an Australian debut likely around the start of 2018. Pricing for the base i30 is expected to target the Golf GTI directly at around $41K, while the Performance Pack is likely to put it in the ballpark of $48K.