By Otsile Kadiege
A few years ago, Hyundai introduced a high-performance hot hatchback to the South African market. Then the potent i30 N was only available in 6-speed manual transmission and the Korean automaker only sold it in limited numbers. Automotive enthusiasts loved it while some still favoured its arch-rival – the Golf GTI. In a bid to sway a few customers from its tried and tested competitors, Hyundai revealed an updated model featuring numerous mechanical enhancements, new looks and a comprehensive list of standard equipment.
Cosmetic updates to this new model are enhanced LED headlamps with V-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and V-shaped LED combination lamps at the rear. Upfront, N signature can be found on the patterned centre grille which has been optimised to allow efficient engine cooling. The front splitter and the rear wing spoiler with a distinctive N triangular brake light are said to create downforce and an excellent aero balance. Meanwhile, the outer bumper corners, dominated by the typical aerodynamic side fins, incorporate the air curtains to significantly improve the airflow.
The i30 N’s Performance Package includes newly developed light weight 19-inch forged alloy wheels which are optimised for minimum unsprung mass and high strength.
Interior and technology
Inside, the i30 N features a new 10.25-inch touchscreen with an intuitive infotainment with N-specific menus. It also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It misses out on the digital instrument cluster however; semi-analogue dials with gear shift lights are still welcomed. Other highlights include a decent audio system, wireless charging, model-specific “N” multifunction steering wheel, a large panoramic sunroof, N branded sports seats, which are heated, comfy and supportive.
The new i30 N is powered by a 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with front-wheel drive and an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (N DCT). The engine delivers 206 kW in the upgraded i30 N, and maximum torque has been increased by 39 Nm to 392 Nm. With the launch control active, Hyundai claims the i30 N will sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.4 seconds. Its top speed is capped at 250km/h.
After a detailed presentation, we fired up the new N models and drove to Killarney Race Track for a few hot laps with a racing guru in the passenger seat guiding us through the famous race track. The FWD N model squealed off the line as the Pirellis battled for traction on the damp track. Being FWD the i30 N suffered from jolting which feels uncomfortable and is quite scary at first. Tackling the twisties the i30 N was glued to the tarmac despite the wet surface. It got to speed fairly quickly, especially when the N Grin Shift (NGS) and N Power Shift (NPS) systems are activated. These provide a momentary extra shove thanks to an extra 7 kW. The larger brake discs shed off speed quickly when you need to come to a stop.
We’re impressed by its agility and willingness to throw its tailout in its sportiest settings. Fans of pops and bangs will be happy to know that it hasn’t lost its ludicrously loud and addictive soundtrack.
Out and about
Fun at Killarney Race Track is done and dusted, we hit the streets of theWestern Cape to get a taste of what it’s like to daily Hyundai’s high-performance duo.In its comfort setting, the i30 N toned down the raucous exhaust note and throttle inputs aren’t as responsive. The suspension is still on the firm side but not as jarring as when the N mode is activated. Switching back to N mode was a given because of the addictive soundtrack which sounds like gurgling grenades when lifting off the go pedal at certain speeds.
We have fallen head over heels with the N hot hatchback, which is priced at R750,000 and can’t wait to experience it again for a comprehensive review.
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