Limited-run, hardcore Hyundai i30 N Project C promises much improved driving dynamics

Car enthusiasts can’t help but feel... enthusiastic whenever an automaker reveals a hardcore hot hatchback that epitomizes a good model already on offer. Such is the case with the 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C, which is the quickest and most aggressive i30 N variant - it was just revealed at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show where it will undoubtedly attract a lot of hot hatch fans’ attention.

What sets the Hyundai i30 N Project C apart from the regular i30 N?

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Let’s get this out of the way first: the Hyundai i30 N Project C doesn’t get any additional power over the i30 N Performance. That means its 2.0-liter four-cylinder four-pot (that is really rather characterful, as it whooshes, pops and bangs away out the back when you thrash it) has 273 horsepower (275 PS) at 6,000 rpm and 353 Nm (260 pound-feet) of torque between 1,450 and 4,700 rpm - torque does go up for brief periods of hard acceleration, thanks to the overboost function that pushes the torque to 378 Nm (278 pound-feet); the gearbox is the same six-speed manual, too.

2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C specifications
Engine THETA 2.0 T-GDI, 16-valve MLA, DOHC E-CVVT
Capacity 1998 cc
Bore x stroke 86.0 x 86.0 mm
Compression ratio 9.5
Power 275 PS (202 kW) @ 6000 rpm
Torque 353 Nm @ 1450 ~ 4700 rpm 378 Nm with Overboost Function @ 1750-4200rpm
Turbocharger boost pressure 2.3 bar max
Maximum speed (km/h) 250
0-100 km/h (seconds) 6.0
CO2 combined (g/km NEDC 2.0 target)* 176*
Fuel Consumption urban/extra urban/combined (l/100 km)* 5.7/9.7/7.1
What’s special about the i30 N Project C is that it has several weight-shedding carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts.

The all-carbon hood is the first thing you notice when looking at the car, but it also has a CFRP front splitter, rear diffuser and side sills. The unique OZ Racing 19-inch wheels not only look really cool (they really do and really make the car seem special), but they actually help shed the most mass out of all the weight-saving measures and, since this is unsprung mass, it has a significant impact on handling.

The 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C Is the Hot Hatch We Deserved From the Beginning Exterior
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Hyundai says just the wheels alone make the car 22 kg (48.5 pounds) lighter. Next up is the CFRP hood that saves 7.2 kg (15.9 pounds), then the side sills that together shed 1 kg (2.2 pounds), then the integrated diffuser in the back that reduces the weight by another 386 grams (0.86 pounds). The final sources of weight saving are the two front seats that together help shed 15 kg (33 pounds) and the rear wheel hubs that on the Project C are made out of aluminum and they make the car 4.66 kg (10 pound) lighter still.

In total, all of these measures make the car exactly 50 kg (110 pounds) lighter, reducing its weight from 1,445 kg (3,185 pounds) to 1,395 kg (3,075 pounds).

This weight difference doesn’t have a big impact on the car’s claimed acceleration from naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) which drops from 6.1 seconds to 6 seconds; top speed remains the same: 250 km/h (155 mph).

The 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C Is the Hot Hatch We Deserved From the Beginning Exterior
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Finally, the car’s ride has been lowered by 6 mm and the steering has different (more aggressive) calibration compared to other i30 Ns. Hyundai points out that by lowering the suspension and reducing some weight higher in the car (through the use of the CFRP hood), the car’s center of gravity is actually 8.8 mm (0.35 inches) lower than that of the standard i30 N Performance.

How many i30 N Project Cs is Hyundai making and when can I have one?

The 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C Is the Hot Hatch We Deserved From the Beginning Exterior
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If you’re a fan of hot hatches and are right now looking to buy a new car, then the Hyundai i30 N Project C should be on your radar. And not only because it is a limited edition model that has genuine performance, but because it’s probably going to be a future classic at some point - think about it: it’s the hardcore version of Hyundai’s first ever hot hatchback, a model that was already good prior to the appearance of this new hardcore variant.

But think fast, if you want to get behind its unique Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, because only 600 examples will be made.

It will go on sale across Europe later this year and do bare in mind that some of those 600 cars (we’re guessing that at least 100 of them) will be right-hand drive models for the U.K. market; pricing has yet to be announced, but it will be announced closer to the car’s market debut.

The 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C Is the Hot Hatch We Deserved From the Beginning Interior
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If you want to check out the car in the metal (and CFRP), you can see it at Hyundai’s Frankfurt Motor Show stand right now. The Korean automaker’s stand is also home this year to the sporty looking i10 N-Line, as well as a the 45 all-electric concept; the latter looks very Pininfarina-esque, even though it was designed in-house by Hyundai - if it’s a sign of the brand’s future design direction, then we’re very eager to see what they have in store.

What other hardcore hot hatches does the Hyundai i30 N Project C square up against?

The 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C Is the Hot Hatch We Deserved From the Beginning Exterior
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Hyundai didn’t get the idea of making a hardcore version of the i30 N necessarily on its own, because other manufacturers have been doing it for decades. Right now, for instance, Renault will sell you the Megane RS either as the more-extreme-than-normal Trophy model, or the stripped out track day special that is the Trophy-R.

Volkswagen will also sell you its iconic Golf GTI as the Clubsport or Clubsport S. The latter is the most extreme and powerful front-wheel drive Golf ever and it is a very different beast compared to the regular Golf GTI. Around a dry track, the Clubsport S should be faster than the grippier, all-wheel drive Golf R.

The 2020 Hyundai i30 N Project C Is the Hot Hatch We Deserved From the Beginning Exterior
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Honda doesn’t necessarily need to make a more hardcore version of its current Civic Type-R, because even as it is right now, it’s still quite extreme (both to look at and to drive), so even if it’s not the more track-focused version of a more tame hot hatch, it’s worth mentioning in this hardcore model roundup.

Interestingly, while there is talk of an even more extreme version of the current hot Civic, it is believed Honda will introduce a more toned down version of it along with its mid-life cycle refresh - this confirms the theory that the Civic Type R is already a hardcore hot hatch, even if it’s not specifically branded as such.

Further reading

2018 Hyundai i30 N High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai i30 N.

2019 Hyundai i30 N Fastback
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Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai i30 N Fastback.

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