• 2018 Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai makes a hot hatch sharpened at the ‘Ring

In 2013, Hyundai announced the launch of N Performance, a sub-brand tasked with developing Hyundai’s performance-oriented models and managing the brand’s World Rally Championship efforts. Now, four years later, we have this – the i30 N, the first production model to carry the go-faster N badge. Based on the recently launched third-generation i30 hatchback, Hyundai boasts the i30 N saw extensive development time at the Nurburgring, completing upwards of 10,000 km (6,214 miles) at the Nordschleife on its way to hot-hatch stardom. Further performance cred comes from a stint at the ADAC 24-hours endurance race (also held at the ‘Ring), not to mention Hyundai’s experience competing in the WRC. Model highlights include a turbo four-cylinder making as much as 270 horsepower, a six-speed manual gearbox, and race-bred suspension and chassis components, all of which add up to an exciting new entry in an increasingly competitive segment.

That said, Hyundai is gonna need to bring it’s A game if it hopes to stand up to such standard bearers as the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST. Clearly, the Hyundai i30 N can talk the talk, but the question remains – can it walk the walk?

Updated 07/14/2017: The Hyundai i30 N has made its official debut! Read on for all the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Hyundai i30 N.

Official video

Exterior

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To be perfectly frank, the exterior styling for the i30 N isn’t all that surprising. Spy shots revealed Hyundai’s direction included all the traditional performance styling cues, as informed by concepts like the RN30 and the standard i30 model.

That said, we think it looks good, finding a nice balance between aggression and refinement. The shapes and lines suggest performance, rather than shout about it, and in a segment overrun by boy racer styling (ahem, Honda Civic Type R), it’s nice to see Hyundai finding a middle ground.

Let’s start in front, where we find a revised bumper with enlarged intakes and a lower red character line. Hyundai’s characteristic Cascading Grille design is in the nose. Further down, those big intakes feed the rotors cool air, staving off the dreaded brake fade when pushing it on track. Meanwhile, black headlight bezels above look mean. Horizontal daytime running lights outfitted with LEDs add a little visual stretch to the bumper.

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2017 - 2020 Honda Civic Type R High Resolution Exterior
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2018 Hyundai i30 N 2017 Honda Civic Type R
The shapes and lines suggest performance, rather than shout about it, and in a segment overrun by boy racer styling (ahem, Honda Civic Type R), it’s nice to see Hyundai finding a middle ground.

Moving to the sides, we find either 18-inch or 19-inch wheels, depending on the trim level. The i30 N sits about 4 mm (0.16 inches) lower than its more pedestrian, non-N sibling, a feature that’s enhanced by the black-painted side skirts. Glossy Black side view mirror housings complement the trim, while red brake calipers confirm the i30 N’s sporting intentions.

In back, the rear bumper was also reshaped, while dual oval exhaust tips provide the soundtrack. Up top is a glossy black spoiler, with a triangular brake light mounted centrally.

Hyundai is offering the i30 N in an exclusive Performance Blue exterior paint color option, but buyers can also get theirs in Clean Slate, Polar White, Micron Grey, Phantom Black, or Engine Red, if preferred.

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Exterior dimensions

Wheelbase (inches): 104.3
Length (inches): 170.7
Width (inches): 70.7
Height (inches): 57.1

Interior

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Inside, the Hyundai i30 N looks quite similar to the standard model, but with a few key differences. The seats come standard with sporty side bolsters, while a unique three-spoke multifunction steering wheel mounts buttons for the various drive modes on the left and right. The wheel also gets blue contrast stitching and an N logo. Blue striping was added to the gearshift boot as well. Upholstery options include suede, leather, and cloth, with dark metal trim adding extra flair.

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2018 Hyundai i30 N High Resolution Interior
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In the dash, you’ll find readouts on G-Force, torque levels, boost pressure, lap time, and acceleration time in the main infotainment screen.

The instrumentation includes a shift timer at the top of the instrument cluster, plus there’s an LED tachometer to make sure you’re hitting those shift points just right. A lap timer is also included. In the dash, you’ll find an optional 8-inch infotainment screen, which provides copious performance info to the driver. Readouts on G-Force, torque levels, boost pressure, lap timers, and acceleration timers are all on board. A 5-inch screen comes as standard.

When out cruising, rather than racing, passengers will enjoy the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Hyundai is also offering a wireless charging feature, plus safety systems like forward emergency braking, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, a Speed Limit Information Function, and High Beam Assist. And, just to make it controversial, there’s an Electronic Sound Generator as well.

Interior dimensions

Head room front / rear (inches): 39.1 / 38.5
Leg room front / rear (inches): 42.2 / 34.8
Shoulder room front / rear (inches): 56.2 / 55.6

Drivetrain

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Let’s just get right down to it, shall we? The Hyundai i30 N is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter T-GDI engine offering two levels of tune. Kicking it off is the Standard Package, which puts peak output at 250 PS (246 horsepower) and 353 Nm (260 pound-feet of torque). The top-trim is the Performance Package, which boosts power to 275 PS (271 horsepower), but keeps torque levels at the same 353 Nm. There’s also an overboost function that adds 8 percent more torque and as much as 7 percent quicker acceleration, while also engaging the variable exhaust for more loud noises. Power is routed to exclusively to the front wheels by way of a six-speed manual transmission.

Put your foot down, and you’ll do the 0-to-100 km/h sprint in 6.4 seconds with the Standard Package, or 6.1 seconds with the Performance Package. Top speed is rated at 250 km/h (155 mph).

Standout features include rev-match on downshifts, which can be toggled using a button located on the steering wheel. There’s also Launch Control to maximize off-the-line acceleration.

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Put your foot down, and you’ll do the 0-to-100 km/h sprint in 6.4 seconds with the Standard Package, or 6.1 seconds with the Performance Package.

More importantly, Hyundai declares “The i30 N loves corners,” which means the real fun is had when you go apex hunting. Helping to make the smiles is a stiff roll bar mounted behind the rear seat, keeping the chassis nice and rigid, plus an Electronic Controlled Suspension system that reduces roll dynamics. Five separate drive modes are on hand for customization, including Eco, Normal, Sport, N, and N Custom. These are selectable from the steering wheel, and alter things like the engine settings, the damper settings, the Electronic Stability Control, the Electronic Limited Slip Differential, the exhaust note, the steering, and the rev-matching feature.

The brakes use 18-inch rotors in front and 17-inch rotors in the rear when equipped with the Performance Package and 19-inch wheels. A rack-mounted motor-driven power steering system makes it turn, while Michelin tires can be found on the 18-inch wheels and Pirellis are used on the 19-inchers.

Drivetrain and performance

Engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Drivetrain: FWD
Transmission: six-speed manual
Horsepower: 246 HP @ 6,000 RPM
271 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque: 260 LB-FT @ 1,450 RPM
0-to-62 mph: 6.4 seconds, 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph
Curb weight: 3,307 pounds

Winter Testing

Hyundai released a video in March 2017 following its winter testing session in Sweden. Put through its paces by World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville just like on a rally course, the i30 N appears to be moving to its final development phase. The Belgian driver described the hatchback as having "good traction and stability in the slippery testing conditions" and said it’s "very easy to handle" and that "a normal driver should get a sensation similar to that of a racing car." Additionally, it’s pretty obvious that the i30 N delivers great dynamics, while the turbocharged engine sounds exciting to say the least. Actually, I’d venture to say that the exhaust note is far superior to the Golf GTi and Focus ST (or even the RS).

Prices

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The i30 N won’t be sold in the U.S., but it’s available in just about any country in Europe. In the U.K., the hot-hatchback retails from £25,010, which accounts for an £8,010 premium over the standard i30 five-door. This sticker places the i30 N slightly above the Ford Focus ST, but below the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Performance Package, on the other hand, adds £3,000 for a final price of £28,010 before options.

Competition

Volkswagen Golf GTI

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Arguably the most iconic and popular hot-hatch since the 1980s, the Golf GTI continues to rule to performance-oriented segment thanks to its sporty looks, powerful engine, and affordable price. Redesigned for the 2013 model year with updates inside and out, and a new platform, the seventh-generation GTI gets its juice from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, inline-four that delivers 230 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The German hatch needs 6.4 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph and tops out at 155 mph. Although it isn’t any quicker than the Hyundai i30 N, the GTI greets its owners with a nicer interior and superior fit and finish. Unless Hyundai comes up with an impressive overall package, that is! Pricing for the GTI starts from £27,495 in the United Kingdom and from $25,595 in the United States.

Read more about the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Ford Focus ST

2015 Ford Focus ST
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Hot hatches have become popular cars these days and there is no shortage of models vying to be the best of the bunch. The Golf GTI is a notable contender to that title, but so is the Ford Focus ST. Unlike the Golf, the ST comes with a more aggressive body kit and, even though its interior is not as fancy, the Ford has a 252-horsepower, 270-pound-foot, 2.0-liter, EcoBoost engine to brag about. The Focus ST is also capable of outpacing the Golf GTI, thanks to its 0-to-60-mph time of just 5.9 seconds, while being a bit more affordable in standard trim. The hatch retails from £22,745 in the United Kingdom and from $24,425 in the United States.

Find our more about the 2018 Ford Focus ST.

Conclusion

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The Hyundai i30 N hopes to bring three essential themes to market: Cornering, Race Track Capability, and Everyday Sports Car. While undoubtedly vague PR speak, these tenets tell us Hyundai is on the right track to offering one very fun hot hatch.

Of course, time spent at the Nurburgring and in the WRC are only half the battle in this segment. Sometimes, brand loyalty can be just as important as lap times and 0-to-60 figures, and that’s something the i30 N doesn’t have when lining up against competitors from Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen.

But hey, you gotta start somewhere. Is the i30 N the start of something great? Let’s hope so.

  • Leave it
    • It will need a few years to gain traction as a trusty hot-hatch
    • Tough competition
    • No badge cachet whatsoever

References

2017 Hyundai i30 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai i30.

2016 Hyundai N Concept RN30 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Hyundai N Concept RN30.

Teaser video

The N Division

First announced in 2013, the N Division takes its namesake from Namyang, the South Korean town where Hyundai’s global R&D center is located. The letter is also a nod to the Nurburgring, the German race track where so many modern performance vehicles must prove their worth, including the hot-to-trot i30. Finally, the letter is said to resemble a chicane, a nod to Hyundai’s focus on “the excitement of driving, which comes from well-balanced performance during sustained periods of repeated acceleration, cornering and braking."

Although the i30 is the first road-legal Hyundai to get an N, the skunk works division has been active for years, honing its chops with the i20 WRC competitor.

Rendering

2018 Hyundai i30 N Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Spy Shots

August 17, 2016 - Hyundai i30 N starts to drop its camouflage

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2018 Hyundai i30 N Exterior Spyshots
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July 11, 2016 - First testing session

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Updated History

Updated 07/06/2017: Hyundai launched a new teaser video of the i30 N at the Nurburgring. The hatchback is undergoing final testing ahead of its official launch later this month.

Updated 03/15/2017: Hyundai dropped a first teaser video showing the upcoming i30 N during some winter testing in Sweden. Behind the wheel was Thierry Neuville, World Rally Championship driver of Hyundai Motorsport.

Updated 08/17/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming i30 N out for a new testing session. As you can see the car starts to loose some of its camouflage and reveals its sporty front look.

Updated 07/19/2016: Based on the recent spy shots and rumors, we created a rendering for the upcoming Hyundai i30 N. Let us know in the comments section below what do you think about it.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

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