We Regret to Inform You… the Hyundai I30 N Is Outstanding

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
we regret to inform you 8230 the hyundai i30 n is outstanding

Unfortunately, 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.

The 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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3 of 37 comments
  • John John on Sep 28, 2017

    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".

    • TMA1 TMA1 on Sep 28, 2017

      I saw a Type R on the road last night. Even in black, that car set a really low bar for "not trying too hard."

  • Kosmo Kosmo on Sep 28, 2017

    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.

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.