By on September 27, 2017

2018 Hyundai i30 N - Image: HyundaiUnfortunately, the new Hyundai i30 N is, by all accounts, a terrific hot hatchback.

The i30, you’ll recall, is essentially the Hyundai Elantra GT that’s beginning to arrive in U.S. showrooms, a pleasantly tasty car in Sport trim.

But Hyundai’s new performance N sub-brand, headed up by former BMW dynamics sage Albert Biermann, is not yet America-bound. And while European critics broadly praise the i30 N — not just as “a pretty stunning first effort from Hyundai’s N division” but “up there with the best” competitors — and celebrate the availability of yet another viable performance car, the car will not make it across the pond.

2018 Hyundai i30 N rear - Image: HyundaiThe trap into which so many enthusiasts fall, a belief that the automotive grass is always greener on the other side, has often led to disappointment.

Many of the cars on the other side of the fence, or the ocean in this instance, are just cars. Mini-MPVs, for example, aren’t spacious enough to meet American demands. Neither are the cars that do make it across the Atlantic as North American afterthoughts guaranteed to wow: consider the Saturn Astra, Fiat 500L, and Audi Q3. Similarly, the possibility exists that the Citroën C4 Cactus isn’t the best thing since sliced bread; that the market for such a car in America isn’t vast.

And yet there are instances in which vehicles that are only just out of our reach stand out as beacons of automotive wonder. Take the 2018 Hyundai i30 N, particularly with a performance pack that adds 24 bhp to the regular i30 N’s 247-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo. The i30 N is a car that, in a sense, is sold here with only a few extra bits and baubles.

“Scepticism is replaced by a mixture of mild disbelief, major respect and, most of all, a refreshing wave of pure pleasure about what Hyundai has created in the i30 N,” says evo’s Steve Sutcliffe. “Beside a Golf GTI, with which it competes theoretically on price, it’s a much more committed effort.”

“It’s sharp into corners, it grips hard and the steering is communicative enough to give you confidence, but it’s the way the car is balanced that really struck me,” says Top Gear’s Ollie Marriage. “It’s happy to work both axles evenly, so if you lift slightly the car will tighten its line, if you chuck it into a corner hard, it’ll probably be the back end that lets go first.”

“Factor in the quick, tactile throw of the gearstick and the short-travel clutch and you’d swear Hyundai had been building this kind of car for generations,” Autocar writes. “It’s difficult to overstate what a brilliant job Hyundai has done with this car’s chassis.”

It sounds like Hyundai got the details right, too. The performance pack “brings a joyous variable exhaust system,” CAR writes, “which is both louder and more characterful thanks to rally-spec over-run cackle.” CAR says it’s more evocative and more burbley than the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R. The Hyundai i30 N also offers old-fashioned driver’s bits: a round steering wheel, a manual handbrake, and a manual transmission only.

We can surely all agree the i30 N looks the business, too. The special blue paint slathered on early test cars works wonders on the subdued, Golf-like profile. Nor is the i30 N guilty of trying too hard — we’re looking at you, Honda.

One drive in the sixth-generation 2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport is enough to convince you that the Korean brand has certainly developed a knack for building a fun car. Yet that Elantra sedan will leave a real enthusiast wanting more: more brakes, more power, more tire, more bite. The Hyundai i30 N is the more you’re looking for. But we regret to inform you, this apparently outstanding car will not be sold in America.

[Images: Hyundai]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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37 Comments on “We Regret to Inform You… the Hyundai i30 N Is Outstanding...”


  • avatar
    tallguy130

    I’ve said it here before; the Elantra Sport is a bargain and a damn well done little car. I’m sure the extra 40 odd hp make that platform all the better.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    question: first you say not yet American-bound and then you say will not be sold in America. so which is it? i’m sure i am missing something…time for afternoon tea.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      We said the N brand is not yet America-bound. But we do know this car is not destined for the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The first N model for the US will be the new Veloster, which will share underpinnings with the i30-N, and an N variant of the Tucson is pretty much confirmed.

      There is still hope that we may see the N version of the new fastback body-style of the i30.

      The first (first edition) allotment of the i30-N sold out in Germany in 2 days.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    This is a very handsome little hatch.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We can’t have nice things.

    Largely because enthusiasts insist they will buy it if it comes, then beotch about the price in the rare cases when it comes. Oh, and it isn’t as good as the hype, if they only had it in brown, or a litany of other lame arse excuses that boil down to, “I’m too damn cheap to pop for anything beyond a lease special BMW 320 or Audi A4 in stripper trim.”

    Dealers don’t help by slapping fat ADM on top of the sticker, and that the average non-enthusiast buyer, which is 98% of the buying public, don’t want to row their own. So the dealer orders it in silver, or white, or black, with a tragematic. Oh if it was only in peacock green with a manual, THEN I would buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      ^^^^This. Also why Mazda continues to struggle in the US despite getting praise for the driving dynamics of their vehicles. “Enthusiasts” buyers that Mazda targets just buy used MX-5s.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Another factor is that manufacturers get one bite at the apple every few years. I think carefully before buying a vehicle and, unless I have made a mistake, I keep it for a long time. Since my wife and I are in our early 70s, our current vehicles may be our last ones.

      Last spring, we bought a three-year-old Toyota Sienna because (1) we wanted a van for its cargo capacity and (2) our 1998 Subaru was nearing the end of its practical life.

      Five years ago, we bought a Ford Focus SE hatchback for a daily driver (largely because of the favorable reports it got on TTAC). It gets enough use that it may wear out before we do. If so, its successor won’t be another Focus because Ford has dropped the 5-speed manual transmission.

      Ten years ago, after all our debts were paid off, I bought the high performance car I always wanted. After much research and test drives of ten candidates from a BMW 328 coupe to a 911 Turbo, I settled on an Infiniti G37S coupe. I expect to keep it until all I can drive is a wheelchair.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    The land of the pickup and SUV has little interest for a car like this one. Only enthusiasts would even consider it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Survey: Of those who own or buy hatchbacks such as this, how many track them?

  • avatar
    gpolak

    MkVII GTI. Semi-regular autocross and a few track days.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Thanks man. I have never tracked a personal vehicle myself (although those have consisted of things like C-body Cadillacs, Panthers, a Volvo 240, and an C3 Audi, none of which are really “track cars”).

  • avatar
    dougjp

    So, if this can have a performance pack option adding 24 BHP to the 2.0, and we can’t have the car, why can’t they at least provide a 20/22 BHP performance pack dealer installed and under warranty for the 1.6 in the Elantra Sport and Elantra GT ? They gotta do something or the whole market approach will backfire on them. Should be easy, just specify 91 octane minimum as mandatory with the performance pack, as the stock car runs regular.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      Because this is probably the same 2.0 turbo engine that was rated 272hp in the 2014 sonata that has been lowered to 245hp in the 2018 sonata

      • 0 avatar
        dougjp

        I thought that too, but that’s a separate issue to what I was suggesting (2.0 vs. 1.6).

        Anyway performance add-ons are something I figure dealers need to offer. N division in Europe and different options too, compared to nothing in NA. That won’t go down well and reflect on the attitude of buyers looking to get anything performance orientated.

        • 0 avatar
          ACCvsBig10

          A few things to consider what is the highest hp 1.6turbo engine from factory in the US, how much boost is the elantra sport already running?

          Yes it would be nice if the had performance pack option for the elantra and gt sport, that an included lsd, bigger brakes and hp bump to compete against the si and gti. but remember hyundai usually warranties there vehicles for 10yrs/100000, it probably easier for them to throw on a old tune that has been detuned for mpg vs trying to up the boost on smaller engine

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’ve always wanted to buy a new GTI, and someday I may… but this handsome hot hatch makes me pause. I’d definitely have to drive it before putting money down on the VW.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Don’t really like light blue, but that blue looks nice. Unique. And you can’t get it here.

    Gotta love Hyundai, they recognize their shortcomings and bring in some of the best possible talent to turn things around.

    Cars don’t look good? Hire Peter Schreyer.

    Can’t figure out ride/handling? Hmm, who should we hire? How about Albert Biermann?

    They’re not messing around.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    everybody’s saying it has an n-gaging drive. Will make an n-ticing alternative for the GTI crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      They should be talking to Nokia if they wanted to “n-gage”.

      Anyhow… I dont have much care for the upcoming 8 spd torque converter going into this however I do wish they put this on their wagon body w/ 6 spd manual, perhaps 4wd option and perhaps give it a bit of a ride height lift… you can keep the plastic wheel arch cladding.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I hope we get an N version of the Elantra sedan. They have to bring those things over; we need more than the GTI and WRX and Hyundais are looking pretty good these days.

  • avatar
    John

    Interesting that a car with not one, not two, but three phony air vents in the rear is now considered to be “not trying too hard”.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    These kind of cars will never make it over here.

    My wife pays them all off to keep them away, which helps keep the car budget in line.

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