Some car-makers shout about their performance models which can quietly disappoint, yet Hyundai play it the other way in the i30N and have a normal looking model which excites every time you take the wheel.
The Korean brand has electrified the World Rally Championship and it’s now quietly building on that performance with its subtle yet sporty i30N fastback.
You can choose the ultimate i30N Performance model with 275ps underfoot or save about £3,000 and go for the 250PS version. Now 250PS would delight many but the rally fans would go for our slightly more powerful version for the ultimate entertainment value.
And you’ll get that make no mistake, mostly because it has eschewed all-wheel-drive for front-wheel-drive which is superb on dry roads but becomes more interesting on damp surfaces and twisting tracks.
It was created in Hyundai’s Namyang R&D centre and developed at the Nurburgring circuit, hence the suffix.
The sophisticated four-cylinder engine is a good starter, pulls very strongly with 378Nm at 1,750rpm and yet uses its six speed gearbox to stretch its economical legs as well to almost 40mpg.
You’ll love the way it spins up the engine note and the pulling power, pushes it through the front wheels and covers ground quickly before cruising at a sedate 70mph, under half its possible maximum speed. That would not discredit a big executive car but in the i30N Performance it seems more remarkable yet refined as well.
The gearchange is quick and slick with a short travel clutch and direct action lever, the steering imparts excellent feel with just the right balance between assistance and effort. It turns easily to park, it possesses confidence-inspiring control at speed and it slows and stops without a second’s concern.
I liked the very comfortable, well-shaped and supporting seats, particularly infront, and their adjustment range, while those in the back never complained about lack of room. Boot space is good, the shape practical for shopping or cases, access is easy and the cabin and oddments space is sensible.
Once inside the ride quality is slightly firm but not really as hard as you might expect in a car with close to 300PS available. I have certainly driven firmer hot-hatches which can shake you and make a short journey an endurance event.
The secondary controls are well placed and spaced to use with familiarity, the instruments easy to read thanks to their size and positioning and the infotainment display is clear.
Heating and ventilation is straightforward and works well, the lights bright and far reaching but I found the wipers a bit too slow for my liking when driving quickly in heavy rain. Front and side vision is clear, a little less so over the shoulder when reversing or pulling out.
A few drivers asked me what model it was and seemed surprised to know Hyundai has a performance car in its range but after a look inside they were impressed. It’s the sort of car which turns heads because it’s rare and unexpected and for some drivers I know that makes it the ultimate Q-car to enjoy and remain discreet at the same time. Whispers to the wise.
|FAST FACTS||Hyundai i30N Performance|
|Price: £28,850||Mechanical:275ps 4cyl 2.0litre turbo-petrol, 6sp|
|Max Speed: 155mph||0-62mph: 6.1 sec|
|Combined MPG: 37||Insurance Group: 28E|
|C02 emissions: 163 g/lkm||Bik rating: 33%, £500F7, £140SR|
|Warranty: 5yrs/ unlimited miles||Sizes: L4.34m, W1.80m, H1,46m|
|Bootspace: 381 – 1287 litres||Kerb: 1429kg|
|For: Performance & economy, steering and brakes excellent, good seats, reasonable luggage room, good value and long warranty
Against: Front wheel drive only and skittish on damp roads, road rumbles, slow wipers.