Honestly, Hyundai was never on my “to do list” of cars, until I got a phone call from a friend of mine inviting me to drive his brand new i30 N, guaranteed to give Hyundai another shot in my book. It was never a brand that appealed neither to my automotive taste buds nor to my requirements as a motorsport enthusiast.
First impression was startling, the i30 N looks like a legal road version of a Rally car. With somewhat flared arches, lowered stance, sitting on 19inch wheels with Pirellis on them, this hatch meant serious business. The interior is quite impressive as well, a digital screen in the center of the console that allows you to shift between the 3 driving modes, a 6 speed manual transmission and the naughtiest of exhaust notes. N meant Naughty.
In eco mode, it drives very smoothly; Silent enough to be boring. Normal mode is normal, gets you from point A to point B in a very Hyundai fashion. The clutch is very soft. Sports mode and custom mode are a whole different story. with the option to alter the exhaust, the magnetic suspension, the electronic lsd, throttle response as well as monitor in real time, the cars turbo boost, torque and engine performance.
All in all, the car drives nicely, the engine is very effective and response is excellent. The mid-range torque gives it the ability to pull dynamically out of almost any corner. The gearbox works nicely, shift quality is very smooth and sporty, and the rev matching makes all the difference when you need it. Not to forget the cherry on top, the rally style pops and bangs coming from the exhaust.
Hill brake assist, panoramic sunroof, the latest in infotainment systems, weird yet attractive colors. N development went all in to deliver what is perhaps the sexiest hot hatch on the market right now, if you are daring enough to see beyond the badge. But given the fact that Hyundai has been competing in the WRC for quite some time now and recently recruited 9 time world champion Seb Loeb, I totally respect Hyundai’s investment In developing the N brand and its future plans (to be announced soon). So brand poseurs beware, and keep an eye on what impressively is a winning attempt at an eye-catching accomplishment. Finally, the i30 N is the kind of car that will make you look back at it after you park it. A hot hatch hero: practical and undemanding in everyday use, that comes alive at the first sight of a twisty road and still is by far the most affordable among its competitors with a lot more to offer.