Hyundai Australia loves the i30 N. Of course, I’m sure it loves every car in its range (maybe…), but behind the scenes plenty at Hundee Oz are particularly excited to have a proper performance product in its range to promote and sell.
It wants to foster a community of N owners, setting up a number of ‘N Performance’ social media accounts to inform current and potential owners about every facet of Hyundai’s first true hot hatch.
As part of this, workshops were recently held in Melbourne and Sydney, with technician Geoff Fear giving a presentation and taking questions. Thankfully, instead of a projector and Powerpoint there was an i30 N on a hoist and a number of disassembled N parts littered around to have a closer look at. Of course, as an i30 N ‘owner’ I had to head along, eager to learn more.
It turns out there is no such thing as a typical i30 N owner, customers ranging from young hot hatch fans to pension-age enthusiasts keen on one last performance car. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few questions about tuning the i30 N, deftly batted away by the Hyundai crew, but refreshingly the bold addition of a track warranty had many punters intrigued and keen to head onto the speedy side of pit wall.
As one of the i30’s biggest markets, Australia had a bigger say in the development of the N than you might expect. So big, in fact, that local cars have not just a bespoke suspension tune, but unique dampers.
For this you can thank Australia’s crappy roads and our habit of driving over them at 100km/h regardless. Even in Normal mode, overseas Ns are set up quite stiff, Albert Biermann’s logic being that he wanted the car to feel instantly responsive, even on a short test drive. Trouble is, in Australia that responsiveness would likely translate into a sore bum in Normal and loosen fillings if you strayed into Sport Plus.
An Aussie-spec tune wasn’t an easy sell. It took Hyundai’s local engineers to drive Biermann around on a local visit to convince him the car needed to be softer to work on our roads.
Eventually, pothole after pothole had the boss onside: all Ns use the same springs and swaybars, but Aussie cars score different, softer damper internals, the extra compliance not only making the car more comfortable but improving its pace on country roads, too.
The job isn’t done yet – the goal is to go even softer. Don’t be surprised if the forthcoming i30 N Fastback has a little softer ride and likes a bit of tail-out attitude in the corners.
Other little nuggets of information: in Normal the exhaust operates only through the passenger-side tip; selecting Sport bypasses the muffler and uses the driver’s tip while also adjusting cam timing and injecting extra fuel to spark those signature pops and crackles. According to Fear, one engineer spent two years just working on the overrun theatrics.
In addition, if you’re going to change wheels, ensure the offset is identical to stock, otherwise you’ll alter the scrub radius (where the tyre contacts the tarmac). The i30 N is set up so the dead centre of the tyre is the contact patch; change the offset and you’ll affect this, changing your handling and tyre wear for the worse.
Use this month has effectively been adding some kilometres to the car before really stretching its legs – probably unnecessary, but old habits die hard. In day-to-day use I think the Hyundai Australia chassis folk are spot-on, it could use a little more ride compliance.
It’s an excellent compromise – if the car had passive dampers it would be about spot-on – but given the i30 N’s adaptive set-up, why not slacken off Normal more to accept the worst bumps and lumps? If you need the extra body control, that’s why Sport exists.
The turning circle is annoyingly large; at 11.6m it’s a metre larger than the regular i30, which it seems is just enough to make the difference between a successful u-turn and a three-point effort. Probably the biggest annoyance currently is the gearbox.
The shift is very notchy and sometimes baulks on the 5-6 change. It may be a cold oil issue, further investigation is needed, but getting back into the N after a day or two in a new manual Mustang, it’s the muscle car that has the superior gearchange. Stalling is also very easy, which is just bad driving, but some cars flatter you more than others.
That’s virtually it for the bad stuff – this is a very easy car to live with. That said, I already know if it were my money I’d be speccing the Luxury Pack, if only for the smart key and push-button start.
Keyless entry makes life so much easier when you have arms full of shopping, etc. For $3000, it also adds heated front seats and steering wheel, powered front seats with suede inserts and leather bolsters, front park assist and more – seems good value.
Would familiarity breed contempt with long-term reviews
Follow our journey with our Hyundai i30 N Long Termer:
- Part 1
2018 Hyundai i30 N Pros & Cons
Three things that we're rating:
1 - Grunty engine
2 - Seat comfort
3 - Apple CarPlay
Three things that are grating:
1 - Shift quality
2 - Turning circle
3 - Stalling a lot