Hyundai may have produced many vehicles in the past, but they have failed to be exciting to drive. The Genesis sub-brand has come up with some pretty good vehicles in the past and the Veloster was an okay hatchback, fun, but nothing too great. Capitalizing on its rally pedigree, Hyundai has announced its new performance division, simply called ‘N’ and marked its debut with the i30 N. This is equivalent to Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M divisions.
Hyundai says that the first N division car, the i30 N has been conceptualized in Namyang, the Hyundai HQ and developed at the Nurburgring. Moreover, the car has been developed keeping in mind the most complex of all turns, the chicane. Two fast right-hand bends immediately one after the other call for a stable and strong chassis to be able to attack the chicane fast. Hence the name N.
Mix many years of rallying experience and extensive testing at the Nurburgring into one concoction and what you have is arguably the best handling hatchback in the world. And it is not just the handling which has been carried over from rallying; acceleration, exhaust note and durability too are at par with those of rally spec cars.
How do we know? Two i30Ns participated in the 24h of Nurburgring and finished the race. For two pre-production models, to race constantly for 24 hours through a total distance of 6000kms is not something that is achieved everyday. The two cars finished the race without any technical issues and were just a tad different from the production-ready models. The #92 i30N finished 52 overall out of 109 participants.
According to Hyundai, “For participation in the 24-hour race the two cars i30 N entrants were modified focusing mainly on the drivers’ safety, featuring a FIA homologated roll cage, a fire extinguisher and a race seat. For enhanced grip and braking performance the i30 N were fitted with racing tyres and race brakes. Additionally the vehicle’s exterior design based on the new i30 production model was fitted with a front splitter and rear spoiler to enhance aerodynamics, increasing downforce.”
The i30 N is available with a 2.0l four-cylinder petrol engine which uses turbocharging to produce 250hp and 352Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual ‘box without the option of an automatic.
For an extra £3000, you can get yourself the optional Performance package. This gives you 275 horses to play with, with the same 352Nm of torque as in the standard N spec i30. You also get 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero rubber, red brake calipers and larger brake discs. To prevent the biggest threat to FWD cars from plaguing the i30N, wheelspin, Hyundai offers Limited-Slip Differential with the Performance pack. The Performance spec i30N reaches triple-digits speeds in just 6.1 seconds,
Standard piece of tech includes goodies like auto-throttle blip on downshifts, launch control, lap timers, etc. For the sake of some fan-service, Hyundai has added artificial sound-generating devices at the base of the windshield which can be turned on and off at your discretion. The i30N comes with five driving modes, one of which can be customized to suit your personal taste and driving style.
On the inside, the dash features shift-lights which will tell you precisely when to change gears at those traffic-light drag races. The infotainment system fitted is a 5-inch unit equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. And it will do more than just play music or show the directions; it provides the driver with information like torque and power figures, turbo boost and lap times.
The i30N features large aero at the back, buffed wheel arches and large air-intakes upfront. Red character lines have been added to the front and rear bumpers to add that touch of performance-oriented styling.
The i30N is highly unlikely to come to India, since Hyundai is yet to establish itself well as a car manufacturer. And the hot-hatch segment doesn’t feel right yet. Nobody would buy a Hyundai at the price of a Fiat 500 or a Mini Cooper which are way more luxurious and stylish options.
Images courtesy of: netcarshow.com and hyundai.com.au