RE: Hyundai i30 N Performance: PH Fleet

RE: Hyundai i30 N Performance: PH Fleet

Friday 28th September 2018

Hyundai i30 N Performance: PH Fleet

We've not yet found a surface suitable for the i30's N Mode. Will a track day at Silverstone put that right?



Ah, the N Mode. A subject of much conversation at PH HQ for one simple reason: we're yet to find a surface where it works. The setting adjusts the car's engine and exhaust just fine, but it's the chassis - or to be exact, the damping - that seems far too aggressive for any road surface in Britain. Sampling N Mode at pace along your typical B-road can be a violent and bumpy experience. But this is a car that was signed off by engineering guru Albert Biermann, so there was good reason to believe N Mode worked somewhere - we just hadn't found it. Still, if it was going to work anywhere, Silverstone GP would be the place - wouldn't it?

Even if you've never driven on it, you'll know - either from watching Formula 1 or playing video games - that Silverstone is a fast, flat and smooth track, with only a few narrow rumble strips and bumpy kerbs placed offline to discourage overzealous exploration of the circuit boundaries. For a track day enthusiast armed with a car as exciting as the i30 N it sounded perfect, as well as being a safe (thanks to those humungous asphalt run-offs) playground on which to explore the car's ultimate limits of grip. Big grin.


To set a baseline of performance, I first headed out onto circuit in the car's Normal mode. If someone who had no previous experience of the sharper and more responsive Sport and Sport + settings for the powertrain were driving, they'd be unlikely to ask for much more. The car feels quick and sharp enough in Normal, although the engine and exhaust volumes remain quiet so there's little drama. The car corners with only a small amount of body roll to hamper its agility, but under heavy braking the nose does take a noticeable dive that ekes confidence away from the driver, particularly if they need to turn towards an apex with lots of momentum.

This all improves when you switch over to the Sport modes for engine and chassis, but N Mode encourages the biggest shift in character. It's accessible via a large button on the right of the steering wheel, which is decorated with the image of a chequered flag, in case you were wondering what this setting was designed for. Press it, and immediately the i30 N feels hunched, like a rugby player tensing their shoulders in a scrum, while the throttle becomes much immediate and the exhaust - already more audible and deeper in Sport - projects a naughty crackle and the occasional gargle when you ease off the pedal. Familiar in the sector, but perhaps most notable here.


What does feel unique, or at least only comparable to the most focused of performance cars, in the i30 N, is the car's newfound firmness. It jiggles over ridges like a touring car and hops up kerbs like one, too. The nose stands strong under heavy braking - bite is fantastic when you really stamp on the middle pedal - meaning that the first flick of the wheel into a turn with a trailed brake is met by an enthusiastic front end and a hilariously agile rear one. N Mode puts the stability control into a less restrictive ESC Sport setting as default, and that does allow some slip angle, but switch off the ESP completely and suddenly the car feels totally alive. Feeling a car move sideways with the steering wheel pointed dead ahead is an exciting sensation, although a deep rumble and vibration through the whole car structure, presumably as the tyres scrub across the surface of the track, does at first feel odd and takes some getting used to.

The car's agility feels like something Biermann would have encouraged, but the car never feels nervous or like it'll bite you, so drivers of all abilities can revel in it. If you go in too hot and the back does come around more than anticipated - as I did early on into the very fast Abbey - a tweak of corrective lock and throttle soon brings things back into check. N Mode's inherent firmness means that your inputs to gather things up can be less exaggerated, making the whole process more racing car-like, which is cool. Therefore while there's no denying the N mode firmness can make the car a little too unsettled on the road, on smooth asphalt it feels beneficial across the board; enhancing drivability, helping to keep tyres planted and as a result, shrinking lap time.


With such potential in the chassis, however, the tyres are punished harder, so the nearly new set of Pirelli P Zeros fitted to our car tended to need a break after about five hot laps. Mind you, Silverstone is no easy circuit for rubber. Some sections, like Club Corner, are torture for the fronts on a front-wheel drive car, requesting it to handle heavy steering lock and large amounts of torque at the same time, as the driver behind attempts to catapult the car onto the pit straight while hooking up with a late apex. A useful tool in tyre management is the car's tyre pressure menu on the instrument cluster display, which shows pressures in real time and gave a good indication as to when it was time to back off. There was a peak of 49psi in the front-left tyre (it's worked the hardest at Silverstone), which was a jump of 11psi from its cold setting, although even in this situation grip was only just starting to fade.

Was our mission to Silverstone a success? I think it was, yes, because we found a surface not only suitable for N Mode, but one where it could turn the car into a proper circuit-worthy hot hatch capable of flattering its driver and providing exactly the sort of entertainment we'd ask for, particularly in a car with an exhaust note as naughty as this. We can say with certainty that in Britain N Mode is for the track and only the track, though - and that's the end of it.


FACT SHEET
Car:
Hyundai i30 N Performance
On fleet since: August 2018
Run by: Sam Sheehan
Mileage: 12,384
List price new: Β£28,010 (As tested Β£28,895 comprising Β£300 for winter pack and Β£585 for metallic Clean Slate paint).
Last month at a glance: N Mode finally gets to prove itself with a track day as Silverstone, where the i30 N entertains as well as it performs

Previous reports:
The i30 N joins the fleet,
A holiday with a Hyundai

Thanks to BookATrack for having us along!








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Author
Discussion

Goldeeno

Original Poster:

689 posts

143 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
I don't suppose being a "trackday" that any timing was taken? But im curious what the lap time difference would be between the settings, if it changes the handling that much between them.

nickfrog

10,605 posts

165 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
Running road rubber on track rarely works, surprised they have lasted 5 laps, they were probably badly over heated after 3 which has damaged the outer shoulders, particularly on (presumably) modest front camber.

bozzy.

226 posts

26 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
I know on bikes we reduce the cold tyre pressure to take into account the pressure increase from the tyres getting hot.

Is this not something that could be done successfully on cars?

Itsallicanafford

2,032 posts

107 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
its great to see you putting it on track but i think the reality is that you very rarely see brand new hot hatches on track.

this might be a second owner and beyond thing to do, think the finance company might take a dim view on a new car being used this way.

We track a 2016 Renault sport megane, very rarely do i see a similar age hot hatch on track...

Onehp

1,133 posts

231 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
bozzy. said:
I know on bikes we reduce the cold tyre pressure to take into account the pressure increase from the tyres getting hot.

Is this not something that could be done successfully on cars?
38psi cold is way too much. I would start at 31psi or so on this track on this kind of car... I run not much more on the street with my N-spec PSS 18"...

sosidge

517 posts

163 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
Since Hyundai are changing the suspension on these already I think trying to find the right surface for the N-mode was a problem Hyundai themselves couldn't solve!

nickfrog

10,605 posts

165 months

Friday 28th September 2018
quotequote all
bozzy. said:
I know on bikes we reduce the cold tyre pressure to take into account the pressure increase from the tyres getting hot.

Is this not something that could be done successfully on cars?
It does need doing indeed but on road tyres it's not enough - the issue with car road tyres is both the compound and the carcass which allows far too much movement, they're just optimised for far lower temperatures and far lower cornering loads.

NJH

2,962 posts

157 months

Saturday 29th September 2018
quotequote all
The picture though in the article shows a tyre with remarkably little ill effect after track running. Would be interesting to know how many laps and at what rough lap times they did.

nickfrog

10,605 posts

165 months

Saturday 29th September 2018
quotequote all
NJH said:
The picture though in the article shows a tyre with remarkably little ill effect after track running. Would be interesting to know how many laps and at what rough lap times they did.
The shoulder is almost bald. It will show canvass quite quickly beyond that. Which is to be expected of a road tyre.

NJH

2,962 posts

157 months

Saturday 29th September 2018
quotequote all
3rd picture down in the article?


Ahbefive

11,657 posts

120 months

Saturday 29th September 2018
quotequote all
I'm pretty sure that I remember from when I drove one that the N-Mode was customisable so you can turn off the firmest setting of dampening meaning its's not just for track use
as per the article.

nickfrog

10,605 posts

165 months

Saturday 29th September 2018
quotequote all
NJH said:
3rd picture down in the article?
That's the one. The groove in the middle of block is gone but It's shallower than the full groove so it might actually not be as bad as I thought! Still not pretty and as you say it depends how many laps it did.

But the trend is not good and that wouldn't happen on a semi with stiff sidewalls.

That road tyre will be toast before the inside of the tread is half worn.

NJH

2,962 posts

157 months

Saturday 29th September 2018
quotequote all
Sorry yes I see it now, just in from the crown its wearing flat already. Not pretty as that will go down onto the canvas long before the tyre has worn out.

Would be interesting to see if the wear is even or not across the rest of the tyre, I suspect not as this is a classic case of insufficient camber for track driving.

On my Meg R26 I drove the PS2 tyres on track until shot, of course one has to do lots of really short sessions to use those. In that case the wear was remarkably even across the tread but because the sidewalls are so soft on those tyres I managed to scrub way down onto the top 10mm or so of the sidewall. Can't be avoided unfortunately on the more' normal' Michelins.