Hyundai i30 N: Koreans gate-crash hot hatch market
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Hyundai New Zealand will launch a high-performance N edition of its new i30 hatchback before the end of the year.
It could be the first of a new range of motorsport-bred high performance models from the Korean manufacturer, all marketed under the new N sub-brand.
The i3 N will go head-to-head with other popular small high performance hatches such as the Honda Civic Type R, the Ford Focus ST and the original hot hatch, the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Driven drove a heavily-camouflaged prototype of the i30 N at Hyundai's Nanyang research and development centre, south of Seoul, yesterday.
It was quick and responsive on what is effectively a mini-Nurburgring replica track at the secretive South Korean research centre. The test track is rarely available to outsiders, but Hyundai engineers are enthusiastic to get the model on the market.
We had four laps in the 2-litre turbocharged five-door, five-speed manual i30 N sports pack model, developed for European, Russian and Australasian markets.
The engine pops and crackles while the car just begs to be driven hard. In N driving mode the model is even quicker to respond to putting the throttle down.
The car is the first to be released under the N sub-brand, and has been developed under the supervision of Hyundai head of performance development and high performance vehicles, Albert Biermann.
A former head of BMW's M Division, Biermann told journalists yesterday the i30 N was a high-performance hatch that could be driven straight from the showroom to the track.
Hyundai had established the N division to create a series of accessible and affordable high performance models.
"We have developed the car so more people can experience the mischevious grin you can't hide when driving high performance cars," he said.
Biermann is clear that Hyundai is targeting Golf GTI buyers.
"Everyone is chasing the Golf and we will join the game," he said.
The new series of models build on the experience Hyundai is gaining from its World Rally Championship campaigns, including the success of Kiwi Hayden Paddon.
The new mainstream Hyundai i30 hatchback range will be launched in New Zealand next month, and the N edition is likely to follow before the end of the year.
Hyundai New Zealand said it was too early to determine the retail price of the N edition models, or a precise arrival date for the cars.
A heavily camouflaged Hyundai i30 N during winter testing.
However it is known the i30 N will be available as a standard model along with another version that will include a high performance pack that delivers even more power along with an increased race track capability.
Hyundai global officials were reluctant yesterday to release detailed specifications or performance figures for the model, which is expected to be launched officially in Europe later this year.
Read more about the new N models in Driven over coming days.