Hyundai Delivers a Hotter Hatchback With the I30 N

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
hyundai delivers a hotter hatchback with the i30 n

After four years of development, Hyundai is ushering a new entry into the hot hatchback category with its i30 N. Based on the newest incarnation of the family friendly i30, known throughout North America as the Elantra GT, the N badge separates it as a serious performance model. Hyundai appears to be taking direct aim at the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI, both through the N’s performance and styling — which seems to be a handsome amalgamation of the pair.

Available in two trims, the base model i30 N provides 246 horsepower while the performance package quipped version bumps that number up to 271 hp. Both use a turbocharged 2.0-liter and six-speed manual transmission and, according to Hyundai, can manage 0-60 times in the low six-second range. Power is sent to the front tires and only to the front tires, with an electronic limited slip differential to keep things manageable in the corners.

It’s a legitimate hot hatch and Hyundai’s first if you discount the Veloster — which you definitely may.

Hyundai seems proud of the technical aspects of the i30 N but claims it wants to focus on a fun car more than anything else. It’s a recipe it hopes to replicate on more models in the future. “The Hyundai i30 N has been developed for no other purpose than to deliver maximum driving fun to our customers in an accessible high-performance package,” explained Albert Biermann, executive vice president of the brand’s performance group. “With the high-performance N models we will enhance our brand’s appeal with emotional products that cater to the needs of people who love to have a smile on their face when they drive their car on a winding road and listen to the sound of the engine.”

The automaker exerted some extra effort on the i30’s variable exhaust valve system’s sound and filled the interior with things like track timers and g-force meters — wholly unnecessary but welcome in something that is supposed to evoke a sensation of sportiness.

There are five selectable driving modes, including Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom. The settings adjust the ferocity of the engine, stability control, electronic differential, steering input, enhanced exhaust sounds, the rev matching. Hyundai also wanted to be clear that stability control could be shut off completely for those interested in “maximum freedom.”

It also comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a wireless charging pad for phones. Hyundai also saw fit to toss in a seven-year subscription to Hyundai LIVE — making weather and navigation easily accessible through the car’s 8-inch touchscreen. Safety assists like autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping, and traffic sign recognition are also standard on the i30 N.

The interior receives elements not found on any other Hyundai. There is a model-specific steering wheel, gearshift knob, high-bolstered sport seats and loads of N logos.

Why exactly Hyundai chose to use the N as a performance demarkation is a bit of a mystery. The automaker claims its shape resembles a chicane and the i30 was tested relentlessly at the Nürburgring circuit, but were (wisely) unwilling to call it a “Nürburgring Edition.” In truth, the brand probably just needed something to that would easily differentiate its performance models and couldn’t call them Type Rs for obvious legal reasons.

Slated to arrive in Europe by the end of 2017, the i30 N’s future in North America is unknown. Hyundai doesn’t appear to have any plans for this continent, where the model would undoubtedly carry an Elantra GT moniker, but hinted that another N car would eventually make an appearance. Based upon some earlier hinting, our best guess is that it’ll be the Veloster — which would only benefit from some beefed-up internals.

[Images: Hyundai]

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  • Scott25 Scott25 on Jul 13, 2017

    Love it other than the red exterior accents and the fact it's manual only. There should be a law somewhere that all non-electrified cars must offer both an automatic and manual, something for everyone. Also I'm ok with Hondas or Mazdas being manual-only since those manufacturers are known for their prowess in that area. Hyundai is not.

  • Matzel Matzel on Jul 14, 2017

    *LOVE* the i30N! And love the fact that it's offered with a manual tranny. But why not bring it to North America? I would certainly consider buying this but never look at the Veloster because it's impractical.

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.