Hot hachbacks focus will be on "driver experience" instead of outright power and performance

Anytime a new hot hatchback makes the headlines, a lot of people inevitably expect it to make a run at the Nürburgring to see if it has what it takes to crack the record set by the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S when it blitzed the race track in 7:49.21 back in May 2016. The Golf’s lap time was 1.4 seconds faster than the Honda Civic Type R’s lap time of 7:50.63 so now that it holds the lap record for a front-wheel-drive car, everyone wants to know which FWD is going to unseat it. This brings us to Hyundai’s upcoming i30 N, a car that we just saw in preview form at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the i30 N, but Hyundai doused some of that buzz when it announced that it had no plans of trooping to the ‘Ring to break the front-wheel drive record for production cars that’s currently held by the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S.

Sorry, folks, but if you were looking for the i30 N to test itself around the ‘Ring like most hot hatchbacks have done recently, Hyundai U.K. CEO Tony Whitehorn has said that it’s not going to happen. Speaking with Autocar, Whitehorn said that instead of putting time and resources on setting a Nürburgring lap time record, Hyundai has a bigger and more important goal for the i30 N. "It’s got to be a halo vehicle," he said. “Our brand has moved from being a budget brand to a mainstream one. What we now need to do is add personality. N is the brand to do it with, and now is the right time to do it."

While he didn’t specifically say that the Nürburgring lap record was a no-go, a Hyundai spokesman did tell Autocar that Hyundai’s main focus for the i30 N is to give it the best “driver experience” out of all the performance hatchbacks in the segment, even if it comes at the expense of the kind of outright performance necessary to beat out the Golf GTI Clubsport S.

It’s an interesting stance to make considering that the i30 N can trace its development roots to the Nürburgring; it was essentially born and bred there. That said, it’s base form only packs around 260 horsepower; that number falls dramatically short of the 306-horsepower Golf GTI Clubsport S so even if it did try to set a Nürburgring lap time, it’s unlikely to be able to beat out the time of the hardcore Golf hot hatch, let alone the Honda Civic Type R’s own lap time. Hyundai did confirm that the i30 N will get a more hardcore variant in the near future, so that could be better equipped to make a run at the lap time set by the Golf GT Clubsport S, right?

Well, not really, because all signs point to that model, likely to be called the i30 N Plus, getting fitted with all-wheel drive, thus making it ineligible to take a shot at the Volkswagen’s record.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Better to focus on what people will appreciate more

World records. Lap records. Records this. Records that. They all sound great and anybody who holds one of these things makes it a point of pride to let everyone know that they record-holders. Records are also benchmarks for others and those who succeed in breaking these records wear them proudly themselves. But there are those who think that records are also an illusion, a mythical point of pride for people to measure themselves against other people, even though doing so solely on these merits is a little bit short-sighted. I say these things because it’s nice to see an automaker brush aside any and all attempts at setting a lap record because it wants to focus on making its car the best in terms of driving experience.

That’s exactly what Hyundai said it’s going to do with the i30 N and there’s something admirable about that. Who cares if it sets the lap record at the ’Ring? Not everyone will get to drive their i30 Ns like that anyway. The important thing is to make sure that wherever these future owners are and whatever road surface they’re on, they’re going to enjoy every bit about the i30 N and not just in terms of its power and performance. Hyundai’s stance also says a lot about its plans for the N division. Sure, it’s still going to be geared towards performance, but it won’t be the sole determining factor of the models that will be included in this new family.

Maybe I’m wrong about this assessment. Maybe Hyundai already knows that it can’t beat the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S so it won’t even bother. If it had a chance, maybe it would’ve made a run at the lap record. That’s fair too. But I’d like to think that there’s really more to these types of cars than merely celebrating their power and speed. There should be more because if anybody is going to spend the money to buy a car like the i30 N, it’s only fair for them to get a car that they will enjoy driving all the time, wherever they are. Good for Hyundai for taking this approach. After all, driving is all about the experience.

2018 Hyundai i30 N

No Nürburgring Record Attempt For Hyundai i30 N Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai i30 N here.

Source: Autocar

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