Hyundai hits a home run with hatch

Hamilton News - - PROPERY GUIDE - Road Test: Colin Smith Pic­tures: John Bor­ren .. ..

In the wider scheme of things the most im­pres­sive at­tribute of the new Hyundai i30 N hothatch is there has never been an­other Hyundai like it be­fore.

First time up to bat in a mar­ket seg­ment that has de­mand­ing per­for­mance bench­marks the Korean mar­que has slammed a home run.

Two litres of mod­ern di­rect­in­jec­tion turbo ur­gency, a sixspeed man­ual gear­box and so­phis­ti­cated sus­pen­sion tun­ing makes the i30 N a pol­ished per­for­mance car.

All of the im­por­tant per­for­mance hard­ware is in place with large di­am­e­ter disc brakes pro­vid­ing pow­er­ful stop­ping, an elec­tronic lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial to as­sist with low-speed trac­tion, firmly bol­stered front seats that of­fer an ex­cel­lent driv­ing po­si­tion and drive modes to se­lect the de­sired level of ag­gres­sion. And the $54,990 price tag finds a place among the most com­pet­i­tive of the se­ri­ous hot-hatch al­ter­na­tives.

Of the two mod­els avail­able over­seas, Hyundai New Zealand has se­lected the more po­tent 202kw Per­for­mance ver­sion and there are no spec­i­fi­ca­tion choices to be made apart from colour.

In the realm of five-door, front­drive and man­ual trans­mis­sion hot-hatches the $54,990 Hyundai i30 N win­dow sticker com­pares to the Ford Fo­cus ST — with 184kw — at $52,840 and the 228kw Honda Civic Type R at $59,990.

With five doors and two ped­als the choice is widened to in­clude the Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI with 169kw that starts from $59,490 and the 221kw SEAT Leon Cupra at $56,900 — both with the six-speed DSG gear­box. The i30 N has a broad­est set of skills with con­sid­er­ably more per­for­mance than the Fo­cus ST and Golf GTI while be­ing not quite the track fo­cused screamer which means the Civic Type R is ex­cit­ing but also com­pro­mised when it’s not be­ing thrashed.

And that’s the main ap­peal of the i30 N. With 202kw at 6000rpm and 353Nm of torque from 1500-4700rpm (and 378Nm on over­boost) it tips just over the 200kw mark while re­tain­ing flex­i­ble part-throt­tle re­sponse and re­laxed sixth gear high­way cruis­ing. The gear­ing is matched to the early torque de­liv­ery with 100km/h be­ing achieved at 2200rpm in sixth gear and the down­shifts equat­ing to 2750rpm in fifth and 3300rpm in fourth gear. Hyundai claims com­bined cy­cle fuel con­sump­tion of 8.0L/100km and my road test av­er­age was 8.6L/100km.

The i30 N has a no­table low speed ride qual­ity for a car of this type rid­ing on low pro­file 19-inch rub­ber. Elec­tronic damper con­trol pro­vides the roll firm­ness and body con­trol for se­ri­ous driv­ing 1998cc, 16-valve four-cylin­der in-line, di­rect in­jec­tion and tur­bocharged petrol 202kw at 6000pm 353Nm at 1500-4700rpm (over­boost 378Nm) 4335mm 1795mm 1447m 2650mm 1509kg 50 litres Al­loy, front 8.0 x 19-inch Pirelli P-zero HN 235/35 ZR 19 ra­dial

but away from the main roads where cam­ber changes and lumpy sur­faces are com­mon the i30 N also shows im­pres­sive com­pli­ance and doesn’t re­act abruptly.

Vis­ually the i30 N tells a rea­son­ably un­der­stated per­for­mance story with a slightly lower stance and larger wheels than other i30 mod­els. Red painted brake cal­lipers and a red high­light strip on the front and rear aprons are the eye-catch­ing el­e­ments of the ex­te­rior treat­ment and there’s a rea­son­ably prom­i­nent N badge on the grille and tail­gate.

But it’s not an overtly sporty car and is a long way re­moved from the clus­ter of aero add-ons that at

first glance makes a Civic Type R look like an ex­tro­vert racer. As well as the per­for­mance the stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion pro­vides a few up­mar­ket treats in­clud­ing Prox­im­ity Key en­try and push but­ton start, an alarm and im­mo­biliser se­cu­rity sys­tem, Qi wire­less charger, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion with SUNA traf­fic up­dates, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol and rain sen­sor wipers.

There are heated front seats and the driver’s seat has 10-way power ad­just­ment with firm side bol­sters to pro­vide the lat­eral lo­ca­tion to match the cor­ner­ing abil­ity. Ad­justable cush­ion length and plenty of lower back sup­port of­fer com­fort­able sup­port over a longer jour­ney.

There’s plenty of rear pas­sen­ger head­room but the large seats up front do restrict the rear legroom.

Open the tail­gate and there’s an­other clue to the per­for­mance fo­cus with a sturdy rear sus­pen­sion brace that runs across the load area be­hind the rear seats. It does in­ter­fere a lit­tle when the 60/40 split rear seat is folded to in­crease the 381 litres of cargo space.

The ros­ter of safety equip­ment in­cludes seven airbags and the mod­ern in­ven­tory of brake as­sist, au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing and Ve­hi­cle Sta­bil­ity Con­trol along with a re­verse cam­era and front/ rear park sen­sors. Lane Keep­ing As­sist is stan­dard while one of the few dis­ap­point­ments is that it lacks Blind Spot Mon­i­tor­ing and Rear Cross Traf­fic Alert.

Po­ten­tially the big­gest dis­cus­sion point and lim­it­ing fac­tor in the ap­peal of the Hyundai i30 N will be the man­ual gear­box. I loved driv­ing a gen­uinely quick man­ual car and the pos­i­tive shift ac­cu­racy of the six-speed, its wellspaced ra­tios and the Rev Match­ing func­tion that blips the throt­tle on down­shifts makes it a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The Hyundai i30 N finds a hot-hatch sweet spot. .

THE NUM­BERS

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