This is exciting. Our newest recruit, a Hyundai i30 N in top drawer 275hp Performance format, has a proper PistonHeads-worthy battle on its hands. This is a hot hatchback from a new performance division, one underpinned with the brainpower of former BMW M engineers. Its first effort ought to have been a range-finder - but on first and second acquaintance, it has impressed right out of the gate. Now though the real test begins.
Our new i30 N has to prove itself for three whole months, which is no easy feat when you consider the level of talent its rivals possess. In this segment lives the dynamically oustanding Honda Civic Type R, the longstanding all-round champ, Volkswagen's Golf GTI, and, fresh from Dieppe, Renault Sport's new and compelling challenger, the Megane 280 - which recently pipped the i30 N in a back-to-back drive.
No pressure then.
Our car does at least get off to a flying start. At £28,010, the i30 N Performance finds itself at the lower end of the price spectrum, with only the Megane costing less at £27,495. At the business end there's a 2.0 T-GDi powerplant (wielding twin scroll turbocharger technology) mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that drives the front wheels via an electronically-controlled limited slip differential. Driver assist technology includes a proactive lane keep assist system and cruise control, which might come in handy during long journeys.
There's also a wide window of customisation for the chassis and powertrain. There are four main drive modes: Normal, Sport, Sport+ and N Mode, but you can delve deeper and configure idividual parts, meaning it's possible to have the chassis in the softest setting and powerplant in its most aggressive state. This could prove particularly useful during lengthy cross-country drives. Then again, could having so many modes become tiresome?
Rest assured that EN67 LUZ will be faced with as many B-road jaunts and track days as possible. Those experiences should reveal how a hot Korean hatch compares to its competitors in real-life PHer scenarios. We’ll also be subjecting this i30 N to the weekly shop and urban commutes, of course, to evaluate whether a five-door car that first grabbed our attention for its hilarious exhaust note and inspiring chassis can ‘do the boring’ and become a genuine all-rounder. Ultimately, we want to know if this car is capable of taking on Wolfsburg’s so-called ‘People’s Supercar’ GTI at its own game while also seeing how it fares against the Type R for outright entertainment.
Other questions to be asked include: will observers notice the purposefulness of our car's 19-inch wheels and Pirelli P Zero tyres, or will the Hyundai badge on its nose leave them assuming a small-capacity ecobox lives under the bonnet? And will most of the PH editorial team be toothless after sampling the brittle N mode on British roads?
We’ve a jam-packed few weeks ahead to find out the answer to those questions and more. If there’s anything you’re keen to discover, let us know and we’ll endeavour to answer them…
Car: Hyundai i30 N Performance
On fleet since: August 2018
Run by: Sam Sheehan
List price new: £28,010 (As tested £28,895 comprising £300 for winter pack and £585 for metallic Clean Slate paint).
Last month at a glance: The performance of Hyundai N’s first model already had us impressed. Now’s our chance to find out what it’s like to live with