That Hyundai has sold 25,000 i30 Ns across Europe since 2017 should come as little surprise; for a first attempt at a hot hatch the i30 was fantastic, blending performance, practicality and fun with excellent value for money. There were downsides - the interior ambience wasn't all that, and neither was the engine - but the i30 N was a welcome (and entirely worthy) addition to the sector. Now the revised i30 N is here, with a fresh design, the option of a dual-clutch gearbox for the first time and more technology; the result, Hyundai believes is a "truly racetrack-capable everyday sports car."
The visual makeover is pretty subtle, the most notable changes being the V-shaped DRLs, a new grille design, LED lights and the 'N' branded centre caps. Given the i30 never faced any accusations of being too subtle (like a Peugeot 308 GTI, for example) or too extroverted (like a Civic Type R), it's understandable that little has been altered. As can be seen, 'Performance Blue' carries over as the N signature colour, with six additional colours - Engine Red, Phantom Black, Dark Knight (good one), Shadow Grey, Sunset Red and Polar White - also available.
Once more both i30 N and i30 N Fastback will be offered as standard models or with an optional Performance Package as seen in the pics, though in the UK we will only get the PP. Again, it offers additional power from the 2.0 GDI turbo (now 280hp from 250, as opposed to 275), though now with more torque as well (289lb ft against the 260lb ft of before, and as now in the standard N). Additional extras include the 19-inch forged alloy wheels (saving a useful 14kg over the standard 18s), unique Pirelli P Zeros (in place of the standard Michelin Pilot Super Sports), the electronically controlled limited-slip diff and larger front brake discs. Sounds well worth having, then.
Lightweight seats also make the i30 N extra list for the first time, boasting leather and Alcantara upholstery, Performance Blue stitching and a weight saving of - brace yourselves - 2.2kg over the standard seats. Hardly earth shattering, though perhaps worth having for the additional support promised than any tangible lost kilos. Of more interest to many buyers, given the i30 N's billing as a rival to the Golf GTI and Focus ST, will be the new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the first time this car has been offered with anything other than a six-speed manual. It's the same transmission as recently launched in the Veloster N, with the same N Grin Shift (overboost and maximum gearbox response for 20 seconds), N Power Shift (promising reduced torque interruption when shifting with more than 90 per cent throttle) and N Track Sense Shift features, the latter sensing a dynamic driving environment and delivering the optimum gear shifts automatically.
Though there haven't been any significant chassis hardware changes, Hyundai has retuned both suspension and steering for "improved ride and handling performance for both transmission types." Drive modes continue unchanged also, with Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom, the latter an individual setting to tailor engine, differential, ESC, exhaust sound, steering and transmission to your personal preference. And, on prior experience, spend a huge amount of time doing so...
Finally, there's the new i30 N equipment and extras that, while perhaps less exciting than forged wheels and electronic limited-slip diffs, could well entice new buyers. Hyundai calls its active safety tech 'SmartSense', and includes on these new models Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist and e-call emergency services contact. Certain features like blind sport collision and rear cross traffic collision warning are limited to the hatchback only. All modes will be fitted with a newly update Performance Driving Data System (in case the N Custom mode isn't distraction enough), featuring lap timer and driving information.
Given what has been achieved with the i30 N thus far, these 2021 changes sound like a sensible update; there's no point messing with a proven recipe, after all. Hyundai says the car will be launched across Europe early in 2021, with a price and launch date set to follow nearer the time. If it can once more undercut its key rivals, Hyundai can surely expect to add many more customers to the 25,000 it's already found.
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