YES, it’s really that good!

All the hype about Hyundai’s i30 N taking a real fight to VW GTI, Ford Focus ST and a few others, is real and true.

There are more hot hatches on the market these days, but the price of this one really sets it apart from the rest.

The N is for Namyang, Hyundai’s vast research and development centre the letter is also symbolic of a chicane.

Hyundai also spent 10,000 hours developing the car at the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife, the holy grail of global test tracks.

N and things to come N is smart because as Abarth means racy to Pastafarians and Gordini  rings bells to Frogs, it is something that marks a point in time when the company mass produces a lineage of sporting cars which to date they have not had.

If you don’t care for lineage then I guess you would be too young to have piloted a Mk 1 Golf or Pug 205 GTI, which are simply cracking cars to drive, even though their power output makes them look dull compared to your mum’s new Subaru Forester.

Okay back to the N.

There are five drive modes. Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport N and Sport Custom. In Custom there are 1944 different combinations, which is crazy, but the future I guess. The overall difference though is negligible from the Sport N mode.

For gear and coffee grinders alike there is automated rev matching to the very positive 6 speed only manual. You can turn it off, but not in Sport N or custom to save the precious synchros.

The cabin was spared of Recaro seats and the brakes are N shod rather than Brembo,  but honestly both comfort and sure pedal feel are achieved more than adequately in the pale blue i30N.

There are a few points in a hot front drive hatch that can make or break them: torque steer and an active differential.

The N has an electro-mechanical diff, which means more grip in the dry than a tradie’s handshake.

As for the torque steer there isn’t any to speak of, and that’s good too.

In short, the team that helped Hyundai into the WRC and rallycross world left all the ingredients to turn a good town car into a very capable sporty weapon on the Namyang kitchen bench and the oven has given us this little batch of gems.

The 130N runs Pirelli PZero on 19’s that do a sensational job on the road for normal or quick road driving and they keep the noise down in the well damped cabin too.

The N sits 8mm lower than a standard car and has a multitude of bracing to stiffen the car.

I feel if you want to track attack you may want another set of front semi slicks to bring out the car’s full potential. Just two wheels and tyres, that’s a cheap upgrade too.

The drive modes and interior gadgetry are easy to navigate and are effected immediately which is a joy.

On the road in Normal the N is pleasant as pie and remains well reserved and dignified. It’s comfortable, quiet and behaves in a positive subtle manner.

If you select Sport you notice the stiffer ride and the exhaust notes before the right foot confirmation that you are entering the demerit zone.

After selecting the stiffer option for the chassis options, the ride becomes night and day different and is a real hoot with the diff active to flick through sections of road at a quickened pace.

The steering is nice too, not too light. Speed, accuracy and vision to which you make inputs, are all excellent.

Albeit not quite as fast as your mate’s Civic Type R (the new one) the N will dispatch just about any other 5-door hot hatch.

The surprise for me was the flexibility of the engine and good note. In custom mode it has more snap, crackle and pop than a box of Rice Krispies.

There is negligible lag followed by a very free spinning 2.0 litre turbo pushing 202kW. The 378Nm gives the 1500kg N a good shove along the black stuff in all gears with or without friends and dead weights.

Practical? Of course. It’s an i30.

Related Article:  Hyundai i30 Go

Verdict: All up, the N is a good up-to-date and affordable driver’s car. Cannot be beaten on price spec or speed for the (just) sub-40K price tag.


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  • Looks
  • Performance
  • Safety
  • Thirst
  • Practicality
  • Comfort
  • Tech
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  • Overall | 8.9