The Koreans from Hyundai have something in store for everyone: a big SUV (Santa Fe) for the posh madam who does not want to risk breaking a nail when rear ending a city car. A mid sized SUV (Tucson) for the retired people who like to sit nice and high to have better oversight. The new Kona for the hip young families. The Ioniq for those concerned with the environment. And so on… But one type of consumer has not been able to find something at Hyundai: the true petrol head! So Hyundai decides to make an effort for us as well, they hired Albert Biermann (ex-BMW M-division) as the head of the brand new N-division and started developing the first product in the N-Family. The N is in reference to the research center in Namyang (Korea) but also the “Nürburgring”. Hyundai will soon be launching the second N product: the Veloster N, sadly it won’t be available in Europe.
We got our hands on the I30 N for a day, not enough time for a full review but enough to get an idea about the sporty ambitions of this new product in the very competitive and always expanding hothatch segment. The I30 N is available with 250 or 275 hp, we borrowed the 275 version (Performance package), it manages to reach 100 km/h in just 6,1 sec and has a respectable top speed of 250 km/h. In Belgium you get all of this for a democratic price of 33.999 € (Vat included). In comparison, the new Mégane RS 280 starts at 34.550 (Vat included). Which is still a sensible price, however if you would like it specced with everything that is included in the I30N you can expect the price to go up quite a bit.
Obviously the price/quality factor is not the most important one when deciding what hothatch to by. The smiles per euro is what its all about, luckily I30 N delivers here as well! On the steering wheel you can see a big button with a racing flag, begging you to be pushed. Once you do the car shows its true colors: the N-mode. The car becomes ultra responsive and tightens up the E-diff and the steeringresponse. Other fun gadgets are the Shift indicator in the dash giving you a nice visual of when best to shift and the “automatic rev matching”, which is quite rare in this price category. Press the N-button again and car goes into Custom mode, which allows full customization. The ride is quite hard for our belgian roads so my custom mode had everything maxed out except the ride stiffness.
When it comes to driving the car hard, the influence from BMW is clearly noticable. The car is quite feisty and does what its supposed to do. Even on wet roads the car was very steady and balanced. It is a front wheel drive car so some characteristics are inevitable, the electronic differential does an amazing job at reducing the understeer to a minimum. Het exhaust note is nice, especially considering this a turboengine. I have noticed a lot of people turning heads when we came by, so it must be quite loud on the outside. In the car its present but still very sensible. The crackles and hissing when shifting down are an extra motivation to brake on the engine which is a good idea because the brakes start out doing excellent but if you keep pushing them tend to fade just a bit.
- Driving experience and soundtrack in N-mode
- A lot of bang for your buck
- Nice gadgets
- Quite a big turning circle
- Hyundai lacks the true sporty image (for now)
Conclusion: Based on a day of I30 N Performance fun we can confirm that Hyundai delivers 100% on their first attempt at building a sportscar. The car is a lot more sensational than what you would expect just looking at the numbers. The competion is warned the new kid on the block is no slouch! I would advise anyone in the market for a new Hothatch to not count out this car take the time to testdrive it, even if it does not turn out to be the one for you, it will give you a great benchmark to hold the other cars against. It might not be the quickest, it is very convincing!
This review was made possible by Bart Moyaert from Garage Moyaert