Hyundai turns up heat

Hamilton News - - Front Page -

Af­ter years of de­sign work, a world-wide test­ing pro­gramme and re­lent­less fine tun­ing around one of the world’s most chal­leng­ing race­tracks, Hyundai’s first high­per­for­mance N model is set to hit New Zealand.

But let me be clear from the start: tech­ni­cally speak­ing, this par­tic­u­lar i30 N is not Hyundai New Zealand’s highly an­tic­i­pated entrance into the lo­cal hot hatch mar­ket; it’s only a taste of what is to come.

Rest as­sured, af­ter one week and more than 1000km of mixed driv­ing on our roads, the taste it has left is truly tan­ta­lis­ing for clutch-kick­ing driv­ing en­thu­si­asts.

But for the es­tab­lished com­pe­ti­tion, es­pe­cially the Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI and Honda Civic Type R, the sight of a Per­for­mance Blue i30 N on our shores will be a worry, and with good rea­son.

Yet, as it stands, the i30 N is a vic­tim of its own success.

Due to strong (and seem­ingly un­ex­pected) sales of Hyundai’s first N model overseas, Ki­wis have been left to wait while specif­i­cally tuned mod­els make their way here, hope­fully be­fore the end of the year.

Which brings us to the car was in­vited to test. Ac­cord­ing to the VIN, this is the 27th non-pro­to­type i30 N built.

It’s a pre-pro­duc­tion car fit­ted with Euro­pean spec sus­pen­sion and a few in­te­rior pieces from the i30 N’s lux­ury pack­age, in­clud­ing adap­tive cruise, heated front seats and steer­ing wheel. It ar­rived in late 2017 to show­case Hyundai’s new N per­for­mance brand to a lucky few.

The “N” logo is a nod to both Namyang, the lo­ca­tion of Hyundai’s Global R&D Cen­tre in Korea where the brand was born, and Nur­bur­gring where Hyundai setup its own ded­i­cated Euro­pean Test­ing Cen­tre, a lo­ca­tion where all fu­ture N cars will be tested and signed off.

The “N” also sym­bol­ises a chi­cane, an area where the i30 N has been cal­i­brated to de­liver trac­tion and pre­ci­sion with more than 100,000km of test­ing clocked up on the 20.8km Nur­bur­gring test track and two out­ings at the an­nual 24-hour race.

In Europe, there are two i30 N mod­els on of­fer with two dif­fer­ent power out­puts. Per­for­mance fans rejoice — only the most pow­er­ful ver­sion is com­ing to New Zealand, and that’s the en­gine pow­er­ing our test car.

The 2-litre tur­bocharged four­cylin­der pro­duces a 202kw of power at 6000rpm and 354Nm of torque from 1450-4500rpm. It’s paired ex­clu­sively with a six-speed man­ual gear­box, elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial and will ac­cel­er­ate from 0-100km/h in 6.1 sec­onds with the aid of launch con­trol.

Also iden­ti­cal is the strik­ing bodykit. A new ag­gres­sive front bumper and spliter de­sign features Hyundai’s trade­mark Cas­cad­ing Grille and is matched with a roof­mounted rear wing to main­tain front-to-rear bal­ance.

Air in­lets po­si­tioned un­der­neath LED run­ning lights on both sides of the front bumper chan­nel air to the red N per­for­mance brake calipers for better cool­ing on or off track.

In the cabin the per­for­mance theme con­tin­ues with the “N” sports seats and steer­ing wheel which con­trols all drive modes with two ded­i­cated but­tons. The one on the left con­trols three stan­dard modes: Nor­mal, Eco and Sport.

On the right, a che­quered flag N-mode but­ton puts the car in ei­ther its raci­est or fully cus­tomised set­ting.

In cus­tom mode, driv­ers have in­de­pen­dent con­trol of eight pa­ram­e­ters gov­ern­ing pow­er­train and chas­sis set­tings.

This level of cus­tomi­sa­tion is usu­ally re­served for high-end lux­ury cars, but is all stan­dard kit on the i30 N.

Modes can be changed on the move via the but­tons of 8-inch touch screen dis­play that in­cludes read­outs for power, torque, boost lap and ac­cel­er­a­tor timer and nav­i­ga­tion dis­play.

Nor­mal, Sport and Sport+ modes can be se­lected for the en­gine, revmatch­ing ( more later), elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial, ex­haust, steer­ing, sus­pen­sion and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol.

With sus­pen­sion and steer­ing set to nor­mal and ev­ery­thing else on sport+ it was time to see what Hyundai’s first N car was all about.

Im­me­di­ately the noise from the en­gine and ex­haust re­sem­bles that of the com­pany’s fac­tory WRC car. If you’ve wanted to drive a rally car on the road, au­rally, the i30 N will have you in rap­tures.

As a first ef­fort, the i30 N is dif­fi­cult to fault. But there are three big ques­tions left unan­swered. Re­tail price, lo­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tion de­tails and lo­cal sus­pen­sion set-up re­main a mys­tery.

That said, the com­pe­ti­tion should still take no­tice of Hyundai’s new N brand be­cause, re­gard­less of price, the i30 N is set to be a bril­liant hot hatch.

Those who have placed de­posits will not be dis­ap­pointed. Bring on the lo­cal launch.

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