On your marques
Report 5/Report 4 Hyundai i30N & Hyundai Ioniq
£27,995/£28,580 & £29,295/£29,860
Stephen Dobie: Together, we’re running the two most interesting Hyundais ever. So I thought it’d be fun to try each other’s cars. Both 29 grand, but they’re quite different... Sam Philip: A nice theory, with one tiny downside. Your i30N, though very nice looking and very not-slow, isn’t especially interesting, is it? It’s just a Golf GTI clone with a Hyundai badge, no?
SD: Blasphemy! It’s so, so much more exciting than the Golf. Yet cheaper, with a better warranty and all the equipment you’d ever need. Except heated seats, but this warm spell’s gone on so long I can’t remember what having a cold bum’s like. SP: Actually, I completely agree. But not about the bum thing. Hot hatches have to tread a delicate line between being silly and practical, and the standard Golf GTI, for me, falls too much into the latter camp. The i30N gets it just right.
SD: Some people might accuse the i30N’s Normal suspension setting of being too hard, or its sports exhaust too noisy. They might be right. But I love that it’s loud and boisterous whatever mode you’re in. Hot hatches should lead you astray onto more interesting roads. This one certainly does.
SP: It really feels like they’ve spent a load of the development budget on the oily stuff underneath, rather than getting too hung up on contrast stitching or jazzy change-up lights. Though admittedly there’s a fair smattering of that stuff, too.
SD: Yeah, it’s not the subtlest. And it is flipping thirsty when you drive it hard… SP: Which isn’t a charge that could be levelled at the Ioniq. Not least because it’s near impossible to garner the necessary sadism to drive it hard.
SD: Ah yes, the Ioniq. If we’re talking clones, isn’t yours just a Prius?
SP: No. I mean yes, mechanically the Ioniq is pretty damn similar to the Toyota, but crucially there’s no Prius badge on the back, instantly making it 300 per cent less smug. SD: It’s also 300 per cent more drivable than a Prius, thanks to not having a CVT gearbox, but to be honest I barely used its mechanical power anyway. It quickly sucks you into the game of using EV mode as often as possible. I began to find the petrol engine kicking in as frustrating as I might find fluffing my braking point in the i30N. SP: Exactly! I’ve long maintained that the reason most people – and by ‘most people’ I mean ‘us’ – occasionally drive too fast isn’t because we need to get anywhere quickly, but because it keeps the mind occupied, stops you getting bored. The Ioniq gives you other, fuel-saving games to keep you busy while driving slowly.
SD: It’s all about comfort anyway, right? There’s enough tyre sidewall for an avatar of the Michelin man. You couldn’t even get the weird bobble bit on the top of his head on the i30N’s tyres.
SP: Definitely. The Ioniq is so wilfully, zealously unsporting that, no matter how great the road, it’s just not worth trying to thrash it. Embrace the eco, and aim to get that mpg read-out into triple figures. So: you’ve got 29 grand to spend, and you desperately want, for whatever reason, an interesting Hyundai. Which do you go for? SD: I liked the Ioniq a lot. It unexpectedly got under my skin. But unless they were completely banned, I’d still have to have a quick petrol car for occasional fun, too. So I’ll stick with the i30N, which does everything I need and want in a car.
SP: And will cost you three times as much to run as the Ioniq.
SD: Worth every penny…