MOTORING NEWS AND VIDEO - As a motor journalist I am privileged to test-drive some of the latest imported vehicles before anyone else, and I couldn't wait to test-drive the new Hyundai i30 N to see how it compares with its class contender, the Golf GTI.
We tested the Hyundai 202kW around a private racing track in Cape Town. It boasts a powerful T-GDi engine, generating 353Nm torque from 1 500 to 4 700 r/min and reaches a maximum of 37Nm for a brief period when in overboost. It reaches a top speed of 250km/h and goes from 0 to 100km in only 6,1 seconds - if you're not careful, you could end up hunting for your dentures on the back seat!
The new i30 N is Hyundai's first mass-produced high-performance car, but don't let the epithet "first" fool you into expecting an average vehicle.
This Hyundai is a near-perfect small racing hatch. It was developed under the theme "Fun to Drive" and is based on three cornerstones: cornering, race-track capability and everyday sports car. Advanced technology and a high level of driver customisation has been built into the i30 N, which means it can take on the role of a comfort-orientated commuter as well as a race-track ready performance car.
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The i30 N boasts a unique design. The model has an enlarged version of Hyundai's defining cascading grille, which provides more air cooling to the engine and brakes. It also has stylish 19-inch wheels with 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero high-performance tyres and red brake calipers featuring the N-logo. Aggressive bumpers, an aerodynamic rear spoiler with a triangular brake light, and a dual muffler exhaust complete the sleek, sporty look.
Five drive modes
This car offers every drive mode you could ever want. It has what I call the "Greta Thunberg" modes, the more economical ones. In normal or eco mode, the i30 N can be an everyday car with softer suspension with fuel consumption that reflects economical driving. And then you can go beast in sport mode or N mode, which you can customise to your heart's content.
BPM not RPM
The i30 N gets your heart racing even quicker than its impressive acceleration. After driving around the track ourselves with a professional race driver, a stunning blonde, tipping us on getting the most out of the vehicle, the blonde took the wheel for a breathtaking zoom around the track. Fitted with heart rate monitors, we could see the exhilarating effect on our BPM - but I'm not sure if the result was due to the car or the driver!
I don't think I've ever driven a car that can beat the i30 N's cornering ability. We pushed it to its limits on some of the Cape Town passes as well as on the race track and it's superb.
The electronic controlled suspension (ECS) allows the driver to adjust the i30 N to best suit a race track's requirements. By controlling the damping force, the ECS enhances handling and stability. The ECS takes into account driving conditions such as speed, road surface, cornering, stopping requirements and acceleration to automatically control the suspension, maximising driving comfort and performance.
The use of a solenoid valve guarantees precise and immediate damping force control. A rear stiffness bar increases the already high rigidity of the i30 N's body by as much as 6%. The bar is installed behind the rear seats and reduces the natural trend of the body to twist in curves. This is one of the secrets behind its great cornering ability.
The interior is focused on connecting the driver with the car. The exclusive "N" steering wheel puts the driving performance controls right at your fingertips. For enhanced engine response during gear shifting, you can activate the rev-matching control system with the push of a button. The i30 N features unique high-performance sport seats with sculpted lumbar support and extendable seat cushions to provide stability and comfort for the driver and front passenger.
In short, the i30 N is an amazing vehicle, especially if you like the adrenaline of racing. As for the Golf GTI - I guess if you're quick, you may see it in your rear view mirror. If you have R679 000 to spend on a hot hatch, this one is for you.
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