Monday, October 25, 2021
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2020 Hyundai i30 N Performance hatch (car review)

THE term hot hatch gets thrown around a lot lately and it’s a little bit ambiguous. Lets face it, some hot hatches are little more than lukewarm. But the 2020 Hyundai i30 N hatch is different.

It’s positively sizzling.

Hyundai have created a fire breathing dragon that’s ready to pounce at the simple push of a button. It’s a sleek, sporty powerhouse that’s truly worthy of the hot hatch title. And with its pure race car styling, it certainly attracts onlookers, no matter where you go.

It’s the type of car whose style alone makes you want to jump back in the drivers seat time and time again. That attraction is thanks to things like the front lip, coupled with red trim and side skirts, a rear spoiler, and a rear bumper skirt.

There’s also that now famous powder blue paint, no matter what angle people look at this car from, they know its ready for the race track. Jump inside and you’ll find a set of seats designed to hug your body, even when you’re driving it hard into corners.

But if you’re looking for lavish trim, think again, as it’s a bit of a return to the basics, which is kind of the way, as far as this reviewer is concerned, your average hot hatch should be.

Seats, seat belts, steering wheel and a dash, stripped back of any unnecessary weight like a true race car, with the only hint of traditional race car styling being the massive strut brace in the rear.

But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you miss out on the essentials such as dual-zone air conditioning, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with navigation and Apple/Android connectivity, cruise control, and a dumbed down version of Hyundai SmartSense.

You definitely don’t want the safety systems cutting in and wrecking your lap time around Eastern Creek.

This means that you’ll find yourself comfortable when driving around the streets, but not too comfortable that the interior becomes a distraction when you decide to set a lap record.

Where the i30 N Performance really shines though is with its dedication to becoming a pure driving experience, and all at a push of a button.

At the tip of your thumbs you’ll find two buttons, one on the left that allows you to pick between normal, sports and economy driving mode, and then there is the one on the right. Now that is where the party starts.

With nothing more than a chequered flag on the button, once pressed it puts you into ‘N’ mode. It stiffens the suspension, firms up the steering, increases engine performance, turns on rev matching and opens the exhaust.

It turns the car from something as innocent as a baby, to something that is to be feared in dark alleyways. Press it again and it will turn into the custom car of your liking, depending on the settings you choose to program via the infotainment system.

You’ll also find the option to turn rev matching on or off, on the right hand side of the steering wheel. Rev matching in this vehicle is either something you’ll love or hate, depending on your experience.

It makes sense then, that yours truly, a race driver, took it for a spin to compare the difference with rev matching on and off. It was a pleasant surprise how well it worked, providing more brake pedal feel, without having to twist your ankle to blip the throttle.

Putting your foot down, you’ll feel the turbo instantly spool and the power unleash. It’s an experience one might liken to being shot out of a gun as you let loose 400Nm and 210kW from the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

You’ll be reminded of that every time you change gears too, with the exhaust cracking like a short burst from a sub-machine gun. And when it comes time to step on the anchors and attack your corner, you’ll be super impressed by the sheer stopping power it has.

Turning in, you’ll be using the full capabilities of a suspension kit tuned at the Nurburgring, coupled with a set of Pirelli P-Zero 235/35R19 tyres.

You’ll find your self struggling to find oversteer even in damp conditions, and trust us when we say we tried, multiple times.

After your spirited run, you can check your data logs for info such as G-forces, boost, speed, torque and power deliver, and even lap times, which are tracked by pressing the stop watch button on the steering wheel.

We would love to see Track Mapping and GPS tracking data added by Hyundai to analyse your lap times in detail for each race circuit. It would be a nice feature.

But even at full tilt, staring through the steering wheel at the instrument cluster, you will still find whatever information you need, with options to scroll through for speed, engine temp/boost/power read outs, and lap times.

It means your your focus will be where it should be, straight ahead. It would be nice to see a well thought out race/track head-up display in future updates.

With all of this information in your field of view, you get the added bonus of a red line indicator above your tacho, which moves depending on your engine temperature.

On cold mornings you’ll find 3-4 orange lights prompting you to keep it below the lights, but once the engine warms up, each light edges closer to reaching its full red line whip cracking potential.

All-in-all Hyundai have set a new course record when it comes to getting it right with the i30 N Performance. They said they were going to make a pure race car for the street and they bloody well did it, and without being ashamed of it.

You would have no problem driving this to your favourite track on the weekend, pummelling the hell out of it, and then being back and ready for the commute to work on a Monday morning. And doing so is even covered by their N warranty.

Pricing for the 2020 Hyundai i30 N Performance starts from $45,447 drive away, through to $50,668 (drive away) depending on optional extras.

Our 2020 Hyundai i30 N Performance was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more, contact your local Hyundai dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
10
Exterior styling
9
Interior look and feel
8
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
7
Value for money
9

SUMMARY

Pros - handling; looks; race data tech; adrenaline pumping experience.
Cons - no head-up display; could really do with track map and GPS tracking data capabilities.
Cody Mckay
If it has wheels and an engine, Cody has most likely driven it. A mechanic by trade (he owns Radical Mechanical) and a race driver in Aussie Racing Cars, Cody brings his life time of experiences in the motor trade to the Exhaust Notes Australia team.

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