Solid re­sult for Namyang’s first proper hot hatch

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST DRIVE -

THE HOTTEST Hyundai ever is a to­tal bar­gain on pa­per. For $39,990 you get 202kW and 378Nm from a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged in­line-four, 19-inch wheels, adap­tive dampers, a tricky elec­tron­i­cally lock­ing front dif­fer­en­tial and all the ex­haust pops and bangs you could ever ask for.

And so, hav­ing ar­rived at its first-ever Bang For Your Bucks, hyped like it was made by Steven Spiel­berg him­self, top hon­ours are not within the i30 N’s grasp this time around. So what gives?

In fair­ness, by the time you mix Bang and Buck to­gether, there was very lit­tle sep­a­rat­ing sixth to third. A bit of ex­tra speed, or a few less grand, could have been the dif­fer­ence be­tween fifth and a podium for the i30 N.

In a sense, as well, it’s done its job to fin­ish ahead of the VW Golf GTI Orig­i­nal and Peu­geot 308 GTI 270. Tech­ni­cally, as you’ve read, it’s tied with the GTI Orig­i­nal on the BFYB in­dex, but comes out a spot ahead as it was much more pop­u­lar with the judges.

What the num­bers don’t tell you is that the i30 N was one of the few cars that felt great on the track, a car that you wanted to keep go­ing around in (when there were other cars here in which you did the bare minimum laps, and then jumped into some­thing else). The seats hold you in, there’s a strong con­nec­tion through the steer­ing to the front wheels, the tyres feel tena­cious and the brakes solid, chal­leng­ing you to give all you’ve got. For­get­ting all the hype and just fo­cus­ing on the i30 N on merit, this is a fun car on track, up for a bit of lift-off over­steer fun as well, if you dare.

Would we buy an i30 N if we in­tended on tak­ing it to track days? Ab­so­lutely – and we can’t quite stress how big a call this is, as so many sup­posed track-able per­for­mance cars – some of which are in this very com­pany – we wouldn’t dream about tak­ing to reg­u­lar track days. The i30 N felt great at Win­ton, the tyres and brakes more than hold­ing up.

If we had to level some crit­i­cism at the hottest Hyundai ever, it would be that while the in­te­rior styling and er­gonomics are quite good, you can see where some cost is saved with ma­te­rial qual­ity, par­tic­u­larly com­pared to its Euro­pean ri­vals. It’s also just not as fast to 100km/h as we thought it would be – 6.82sec was more than half a sec­ond slower than the GTI Orig­i­nal, a car with sup­pos­edly 30 less kilo­watts.

But a solid per­for­mance it was for the i30 N, pop­u­lar with the judges for fun fac­tor and plenty fast for its price. It’s just that there were cars on the day that were more ex­pen­sive, but also with more than enough pace to coun­ter­bal­ance their ex­tra cost. –


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