Having established its high performance N sub-brand in 2015, and followed up with some impressive concept cars, Hyundai has unveiled the first production vehicle to be released under the N banner. With the i30 N, the Korean automaker says it wants to bring “”exhilarating driving pleasure” to the masses, and judging by the specs it isn’t kidding.
Hyundai got the N logo from the chicane, the ultimate corner on the Nurburgring race track where the company has honed the i30 N at its new development center with the help of Albert Biermann, the senior engineer Hyundai poached from BMW’s M division. The carmaker says its goal was to create a car that’s fun to drive with three notes: “Corner Rascal,” “Everyday Sports Car,” and “Race Track Capability.” Those are supported by technologies in the i30 N that improve its handling, power, and performance, as promised by a concept shown last year.
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On the exterior, the Hyundai i30 N model is similar to other i30 hatchbacks introduced last year. There are some marked exterior differences, though, between the standard i30, the new i30 Fastback, and the i30 N model. The front and rear bumpers are more aggressive, the rear spoiler is more pronounced, and the wheel arches are larger in the i30 N. The front headlight bezels are in black and the rear has a triangular third brake light and a double muffler exhaust below.
Keen eyes will also note some fresh air inlets ahead of the front wheels for brake cooling, while an improved air curtain behind the grille enhances air intake performance and aerodynamics. Side sills along the edges of the car and the outside mirrors are painted Glossy Black as part of the i30 N’s sport look.
The exterior’s more aggressive and sport-focused look is enhanced by an exclusive “high performance colour range” for the i30 N model. These include a Performance Blue from Hyundai’s World RallyCross (WRC) team that is showcased on all of Hyundai’s N models. Other colors available for the i30 N include Clean Slate, Polar White, Micron Grey, Engine Red, and Phantom Black.
Inside the car, an N-specific steering wheel starts the differences between the i30 N and the standard i30. A checkered flag button next to the steering wheel puts the car into “N” mode for a performance jolt. Above that button is a dedicated rev-matching button for shifting. The “N” logo appears throughout the interior as well.
High-performance sport seats with increased bolstering and powerful lumbar support are also part of the i30 N’s interior changes. Exclusive to the car, these seats have extendable seat cushions for both the driver and front passenger. Combinations of suede, leather, or cloth are available for those seats.
The changes that we’re most interested in, however, occur under the Hyundai i30 N’s hood and bodywork. Those three aforementioned three notes come into play with the changes found underneath the i30’s skin for this N model. Those begin with the engine.
The i30 N has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 250 PS (247 hp, 184 kW) and 353 Nm (260 lb-ft) of torque. With this engine and its six-speed manual transmission in front-wheel drive, the i30 N has a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). That’s the base engine.
The upgraded engine in the Performance Package boosts the 2.0-liter’s output to 275 PS (271 hp, 202 kW) and the same 353 Nm thanks to an improved turbocharger. The front-wheel drive six-speed manual is also the same. This engine, however, pushes the i30 N to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, but has the same top speed.
The N Performance Package includes 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero high-performance tires as standard equipment, along with red N brake calipers and larger (18-inch up front, 17-inch in the rear) discs. An electronic limited slip differential and variable exhaust valve system are also features of the Performance Package.
Extra power without extra control means little, though. To that end, Hyundai improved the i30’s handling characteristics with several additions to the chassis and steering. A motor-driven rack-and-pinion system adjusts steering response as speed increases, improving driver control. This can be controlled through the i30 N’s performance settings via drive mode selection. The design of the steering is meant to accommodate both everyday driving and track day cup tires in performance handling situations.
Aiding that is launch control for the engine’s torque output to aid starts from a standstill. With the clutch disengaged and the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) off, launch control allows first gear to be engaged immediately after full throttle acceleration to launch the car forward.
Rev matching is also a part of the i30 N package, adjusting revolutions on the engine to match gearing during downshifts. This allows smooth or sporty downshifts, depending on driving mode, engaging quiet movements in everyday driving and jerky high-torque output on the track. Rev matching is engaged with a toggle button next to the steering wheel.
An electronically-controlled suspension and stability control are also part of the i30 N’s makeup. Damping force is controlled electronically to improve stability and handling. A solenoid valve creates immediate damping changes and can be adjusted with a button push for different driving needs. ESC uses this, as well as braking and other factors, to control the car’s pitch during cornering. This can be turned off during track runs to ensure maximum driver control.
The Performance Package for the Hyundai i30 N includes an electronic limited slip differential for the drive wheels, which allows turning at different speeds during cornering as loads transfer from side-to-side during driving. That, in turn, improves cornering speeds by adding more control to the turn. This control also extends to inclement driving situations where one wheel has better traction than another due to ice or rain.
Another inclusion in the Performance Package is a variable valve exhaust system. This changes the exhaust sounds through active control of the exhaust valve – the larger the valve opening, the more exhaust sound there will be. Several settings on the twin-outlet active exhaust are available.
For those i30 N drivers who prefer a more sportier sound than the little four-cylinder can produce, Hyundai is providing an electronic sound generator (ESG). This produces engine sounds within the car through sound generators in the body panel, cabin, and windscreen.
The Hyundai i30 N is coming to European markets by the end of 2017.
You check out the i30 N being put through its paces in the video below.
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