Hyundai‘s hot hatch can do the daily chores then go rac­ing at the week­end

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

Hyundai’s i30 N is the brand’s first dab­ble in the hot hatch mar­ket and has be­come a much-praised seg­ment dis­rupter. At $40,000 be­fore on-roads, it makes VW Golf GTI and Ford Fo­cus ST shop­pers pause for thought. Subaru WRX buy­ers, plus those spend­ing more on a Re­nault Sport Me­gane, Ford Fo­cus RS, Honda Civic Type R or Peu­geot 308 GTi, must also raise an eye­brow. Can the i30 N cut it as a fam­ily car and week­end track toy?


IAIN: Re­mem­ber 15 years ago when you had a Peu­geot 205 GTi and I had a BMW M3?

JULES: We were child­less and had dis­pos­able in­come for fun cars. Happy mem­o­ries.

IAIN: The i30 N could help re­cap­ture such mis­spent youth. It has space for two kids and lug­gage. Its 202kW turbo en­gine and tech­packed chas­sis equal plenty of grins.

JULES: It looks spe­cial but is it too “boy racer” for oldies?

IAIN: Not at all. Com­pare it to the dog’s din­ner de­sign of the Civic Type R and the i30 N looks class­ily pur­pose­ful with racy 19-inch al­loys, large air in­takes, red body trim and red brake calipers. JULES: I like the body colour but it’s very showy. Per­haps I’d need slate grey or white. IAIN: Ab­so­lutely not al­lowed. Ours is in the cor­rect Per­for­mance blue, as used by Hyundai on its World Rally cars.


JULES: I like the chunky steer­ing wheel, al­loy ped­als and blue stitch­ing for the seats. Neat lay­out and roomy enough up front.

IAIN: It’s a bit too “nor­mal” Hyundai. At twice the price of an en­try-level i30, I’d want a bit more to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it.

JULES: The plas­tics are soft touch and the seats sporty and cos­set­ting. I think you’re be­ing fussy.

IAIN: I can’t help com­par­ing it to a VW Golf GTI. The Ger­man has the bench­mark classy hot hatch cabin.

JULES: You don’t get many good­ies. No key­less en­try, push start or elec­tric leather seats.

IAIN: Buy the Lux­ury Pack and get all of the above plus heated steer­ing wheel, front park sen­sors and wire­less smart­phone charg­ing.

JULES: I’d tick that box. IAIN: Not me. I like the old-school­ness here. There’s a proper hand­brake, no stop-start fuel sav­ing and it doesn’t ex­ces­sively beep like a fussy nanny. Stick a key in the ig­ni­tion, de­press the clutch and se­lect first gear. Won­der­ful.


JULES: The money’s been spent on the race stuff. Hav­ing a Drive Mode se­lec­tor helps the i30 N change per­son­al­i­ties.

IAIN: Agreed. Five modes — Eco, Nor­mal, Sport, N or N Cus­tom — change en­gine maps, damper set­tings, steer­ing weight, sta­bil­ity con­trol, lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics and ex­haust sound.

JULES: Nor­mal mode makes it just about live­able as a daily drive, though you still feel harsher bumps.

IAIN: I love the Cus­tom mode. My drive to work had me se­lect­ing Nor­mal for all, ex­cept the ex­haust. I had that in “most ob­nox­ious” set­ting.

JULES: No won­der the neigh­bours dis­like you.

IAIN: Cruise con­trol, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, sat­nav and Ap­ple CarPlay through an eight­inch screen help with ev­ery­day driv­ing.


JULES: Hatch­backs make great load lug­gers. Nice light boot lid to open, and am­ple room for the weekly shop.

IAIN: A rear cam­era and park sen­sors pre­vent park­ing bin­gles too.


JULES: As a small hatch it’s a fine size for our two young ’uns. Child seats fit across the back but there’s no room for an adult be­tween them. IAIN: It lacks the lat­est ac­tive safety but seven airbags, lane keep as­sist and AEB are am­ple. JULES: The kids’ bikes squeezed in the boot, plus they loved the ac­cel­er­a­tion and noise, mini hoons that they are.


IAIN: Here’s where the i30 N makes sense. Af­ter a week of school runs, I donned the crash hel­met and took it hill climb rac­ing for the week­end.

JULES: Best of all when you brought it back the brakes still worked, tyres weren’t bald and it felt un-abused. You could drive to the track then home again.

IAIN: Ex­actly. And it’s such a lit­tle weapon. More power and torque than a Golf GTI or Subaru WRX and the su­per-smart front dif­fer­en­tial sucks you into the apex of cor­ners. Steer­ing and bal­ance are ra­zor-pre­cise, mak­ing av­er­age driv­ers look very good.

JULES: It’s easy to se­lect race-ready “N Mode” by tap­ping the blue N but­ton on the steer­ing wheel. And the noise. I love the bur­ble and pops when lift­ing off at high revs.

IAIN: It’s cheat­ing but the car blips the throt­tle on down­shifts so you don’t have to heel-toe. Loads of on-board teleme­try, lap timer, fade­free 345mm brakes and ad­justable damp­ing make it a proper track-fo­cused tool.

JULES: You should re­ally only buy one if you do track days, sprints or hill climbs.

IAIN: Makes the most sense but it’s a de­sir­able, fast road car too. Age doesn’t mat­ter, as long as you can han­dle three ped­als and a gear stick. You’d be a grumpy sod to not en­joy the i30 N.


JULES: Great value for a ta­lented and very fast hatch. I was a bit snobby about the Hyundai badge be­fore but the i30 N’s noise and sporty abil­ity won me over.

IAIN: Daily driv­able and a per­for­mance rev­e­la­tion at the track. In ad­di­tion, Hyundai’s five-year war­ranty has you cov­ered for non­timed track use. Fac­tory light­weight wheels, track tyres and brake up­grades are all avail­able: the i30 N is the real deal. And I want one.


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