Does fun come with a cap­i­tal N? It’s time to find out

Motor (Australia) - - LONG TERMERS -

OC­CA­SION­ALLY IN THIS job you can drive a car with­out driv­ing it at all. No, I’m not re­fer­ring to some pro­to­type au­ton­o­mous sys­tem, rather cir­cum­stances dic­tate that you can get be­hind the wheel of a new model, yet be lit­tle wiser about what it’s ac­tu­ally like to drive. Per­son­ally, the Hyundai i30 N is the per­fect ex­am­ple. I’ve ac­tu­ally driven it twice: once on a go-kart track dur­ing WRC Rally Aus­tralia last year and then again at Win­ton dur­ing this year’s Bang For Your Bucks test­ing. So if you asked me what an i30 N is like to drive I could give you an an­swer in a very spe­cific set of cir­cum­stances, but if you wanted to know what it’s like to drive on the road, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much help. In six months’ time, how­ever, hope­fully I’ll be able to tell you all that and more, as Hyundai’s new hot­tie has joined the MO­TOR garage for an ex­tended stay. For now, let’s cover the ba­sics. Un­der the bon­net is a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged four-cylinder, which pro­duces 202kW at 6000rpm and 353Nm from 1750-4200rpm, with 378Nm avail­able from 1750-4200rpm on over­boost for 18 sec­onds at a time. It’s per­fectly square (86.0mm by 86.0mm), runs a 9.5:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio and re­quires 95RON fuel. A six-speed man­ual is the only gear­box for now, though Hyundai is work­ing on a dual-clutch, and power is fed to the front wheels through an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled me­chan­i­cal lim­ited-slip diff – no brake-ac­ti­vated faux-LSD non­sense here! Sus­pen­sion is MacPher­son Strut front and mul­ti­link rear with adap­tive dampers all ’round and the wheels are 19 by 8.0inch wear­ing 235/35 Pirelli P Ze­ros de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for the i30 N (hence the ‘HN’ code on the side­walls). The steer­ing is elec­tri­cally as­sisted and stop­ping power comes cour­tesy of ven­ti­lated discs (345mm front, 314mm rear) with sin­gle-pis­ton calipers at both ends, which Hyundai claims are suf­fi­cient to re­peat­edly haul the 1429kg i30 N up on track. Over­seas, a ‘base’ i30 N ex­ists sans diff (along with smaller wheels, brakes, less power and no over­boost) but af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion Hyundai Oz de­cided to just of­fer the one me­chan­i­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tion with vary­ing lev­els of in­te­rior kit. ‘My’ i30 N is as base as they come, its vivid En­gine Red paint job (the best colour to my eyes) one of three solid colours, the oth­ers be­ing Po­lar White and the Per­for­mance Blue hero colour. Opt for grey, slate or black and you’ll need an extra $495. The $3000 Lux­ury Pack brings plenty of extra good­ies, in­clud­ing heated 12-way power ad­justable front seats, a heated steer­ing wheel, park as­sist, key­less en­try and go, wire­less phone charg­ing, auto-fold mir­rors, rear privacy glass and more. Add another $2000 and you’ll score a panoramic glass sun­roof. Will we miss this stuff? Time will tell. Hap­pily, all the juicy me­chan­i­cal bits are present and cor­rect and it’s these bits we’re most in­ter­ested in putting to the test over the next six months on road and track. There’s a lot to un­pack, as the i30 N’s tremen­dous con­fig­ura­bil­ity – there are mul­ti­ple set­tings for its en­gine re­sponse, rev match­ing, LSD, ex­haust, sus­pen­sion, steer­ing and ESC – means there is a to­tal of 1944 dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions that can be saved to its ‘N Mode’ but­ton. To spend one minute in each you’d need to drive for more than 32 hours, which is one way to pass the time on a trip from Mel­bourne to Cairns. That’s not on the agenda, but plenty of other things are. – SN

01 Those twin ex­haust pipes ex­pel un­mis­take­able pops and bangs. Scar­ing pedes­tri­ans be­comes quite amus­ing

02 Three ped­als, a con­ven­tional hand­brake and a slick six-speed man­ual is back to ba­sics – just the way we like it

03 It might be a bur­geon­ing per­for­mance brand, but the N badge al­ready has de­cent go-fast cred

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