AA Driven COTY 2018: Why the Hyundai i30 N made the top 10
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Hyundai chose the i30 hatchback to launch its new range of high-performance N models, and the result has been greeted with international acclaim. So much acclaim that supplies of the i30N hot hatch have been scarce until recently.
Driven was lucky enough to drive an early pre-production model at Hyundai’s mini version of the Nurburgring track, at the Namyang testing ground north-east of Seoul in June last year.
Young engineers working on the project under the guidance of the head of the N division Albert Biermann, were excited to get feedback about their first foray into a true high-performance hatch.
They made no secret of their ambition to produce a model that could compete with the traditional international hot hatch champions, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Honda Civic Type R, and the Ford Focus RS.
Biermann made it clear the i30N would not include expensive carbon fibre finishing and other costly additions common on some more expensive sports models.
Instead Hyundai aimed to produce a model that could be driven straight from the showroom to the track, where it could put a mischievous smile on the face of buyers, “the smile you can’t hide when driving high performance cars”, he told us.
The engineers have succeeded in doing that, as our AA/Driven New Zealand Car of the Year judges could testify after two days of testing at Pukekohe Park raceway.
The car can be thrown around the cones at speed, while sticking to the tarmac as the crackle and pop expected from a hot hatch belts out from the twin exhaust outlets.
But it is also a car that is easy to drive on suburban roads, without the aggression some sports hatches bring to the driving experience.
While the interior is pleasant enough, it is not overly flash. The seats hold the driver comfortably enough through twisty turns, and the ride in normal drive mode is not harsh. It is an easy car to hop in and just drive.
The 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 202kW of power at 6000rpm and 354Nm of torque from 1450-4500rpm. The car will accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.
It has five drive modes, electronically controlled suspension, and even launch control, which regulates the amount of torque sent to the front wheels — and so minimising wheel spin.
The hot hatch has a rev-matching system, with a button on the steering wheel helping to deliver fast downshifts. There is also an active variable exhaust system and an electronic limited slip differential that applies varying torque levels to each of the driven wheels, reducing wheel slip and minimising understeer in corner.
The international popularity of the model has meant New Zealand fans eager to buy the car have had to wait until now to get their hands on one. However few will be disappointed, especially considering the i30N sells here for $54,990 plus on-road costs.
The Hyundai i30N is one of 10 finalists in this year’s AA/Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Award, to be announced in December.
Vote for your pick in the people’s choice award, at aa.co.nz/peopleschoice, and go in the draw for a Fijian cruise.
Read more: Hyundai i30 N road test