For most of its existence on the European stage, Hyundai has been a purveyor of cheap and sensible transport, largely devoid of glamour. Latterly they’ve added a sprinkling of dependability and the allure of a five-year warranty, but fun has not typically been on the agenda.
That all changed in 2017 when the i30 N arrived. Developed under the experienced eye of BMW M Division boss Albert Biermann, the hot i30 delivered 250hp from a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder to the front wheels via a pleasingly chunky six-speed gearbox. Most models, though, are the punchier Performance version, which gets an extra 25hp and an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip differential.
The i30 N is also hilariously configurable, with variable settings for the suspension, throttle response, rev-matching, differential, exhaust, steering and stability control meaning there are up to 4,000 set-up combinations. Despite this, the real key to the i30 N’s appeal is its straightforward nature. It’s got the practicality chops to work as an everyday car, yet (once you’ve fiddled with all the adjustments to set it up to suit your tastes) it’s also a wildly fun hot hatch. A game-changer for Hyundai.