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Hyundai i30 N

A few years ago the Hyundai brand laid out a plan to directly compete with the German premium brands. It involved improving all its systems, product l

By Thami Masemola on 27 Oct 2020
A few years ago the Hyundai brand laid out a plan to directly compete with the German premium brands. It involved improving all its systems, product lines and processes, from top to bottom, including design, engineering, sales, marketing and after sales. With the Germans so known for performance, that part was also included. Years later the Hyundai i30 N hatch was born and it is shaking the establishment in their cages.

The i30 N is not a new car, since it was launched in Europe in 2017. More on this later. However, it is fairly new to South Africa. Very limited numbers have been imported here, at a price of R679 900. As you might know, the N brand is Hyundai’s performance division and a number of other cars are currently being developed as N performance models, just as the i30 N was. It was the first of its kind from South Korea. By the way, 'N' stands for Namyang, Hyundai Motor's global Research and Development Centre in Korea, and for the world-famous Nürburgring motor racing complex in Germany.

Hyundai South Africa has not been importing the current i30 hatch range because of anticipated low sales. Therefore the i30 N is the only model to be sold here, which means if you see the current-generation i30, it can only be the i30 N performance hatch. And how would you spot one anyway? Well the car has an N logo displayed on the front grille, a red insert at the bottom of the front splitter and LED daytime running lights.

The side sees wide wheel arches housing dark 19-inch alloy wheels with red brake callipers. The rear features a large roof spoiler with a brake light, a cluster of LED rear lights, that red line again, an air diffuser and two large separated exhaust tailpipes. Five exterior colours are available, namely Polar White, Performance Blue, Phantom Black, Micron Grey and Engine Red.

Driver (and passengers) will be spending their time inside the car, and Hyundai ensured that it would be a memorable experience each time. The sports seats are covered in a combo of leather and faux suede, and provide good lumber support. There is too much black for our liking, and the surfaces are not on par with current rivals’, but then again we did say this is not a brand new production car anymore.
The features make up for this though. The i30 N has been designed for the enthusiast. Look at those three alloy foot pedals for instance, and the stitched, leather covered multifunction steering wheel. An N logo is found on the large-headed 6-speed gear lever too. An infotainment touch screen provides all the information needed, including radio, music, Bluetooth, and mapping displays. For the enthusiast it is the extra bits that show driving performance, including a 0 – 100km/h timer.

Hyundai chose a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine for the i30 N, which makes a heady 202kW at 6 000rpm, as well as 353Nm of torque between 1 500 and 4 700rpm, reaching a maximum of 378Nm for a brief period when in overboost. As previously stated, the front-wheel-driven car comes exclusively with a 6-speed manual transmission (the new facelift model has a DCT auto option), which changes gears in a fun way. Shifts are calculated, precise and engaging for the driver. You feel like always changing, especially when the chequered flag button and the rev match button have been pressed. Serious exhaust blipping with every change. There’s really nothing like it out there at the moment.

Under testing in Gauteng at high altitude the Hyundai i30 N achieved a 0 – 100km/h time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h. These are figures that should put a smile on any hot hatch owner’s face. But more importantly they are achieved under enormously fun conditions. Hyundai clearly worked hard setting up the suspension, which is admittedly on the harder side of life. The reward is pretty sharp handling, where the steering wheel is in constant communication with driver

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