It's early morning. The sun is blazing, but this doesn't put a damper on the excitement of seeing the all-new Hyundai i30N, which was recently launched in the picturesque town of Franschhoek near Cape Town.
We'd been told that the Hyundai i30N gives ‘fun to drive’ a completely new meaning. And so we started the day to see if this is in fact true...
We arrived at the venue, by shuttle, and was then escorted to the location where the day's activities would get underway.
We're met by Hyundai representatives from South Korea and South Africa, but we're easily distracted by the main attraction of the day – Hyundai’s first mass-produced high-performance car, the i30N.
Media, motoring journalists, bloggers and influencers were all gathered around the registration desk, chatting, having light breakfast snacks and sipping on beverages, all nestled under a tent – all trying to stay cool.
We headed to a press conference attended by Niall Lynch, CEO Hyundai Automotive SA; Jeany Jeon, head of N brand team of Hyundai HQ; and Stanley Anderson, head of sales and operations at Hyundai Automotive SA, who welcomed everyone and shared insights into the car manufacturer and the i30N.
We learned that the hatchback has been developed on three 'cornerstones' under the theme 'fun to drive': cornering, race-track capability and everyday sports car. Advanced technology and a high level of driver customisation have been built into the i30N, which means it can play the role of comfort-oriented commuter as well as a race-track ready performance car.
The ‘N’ stands for Namyang, Hyundai Motor’s global research and development centre in Korea, and for the world-famous Nürburgring motor racing complex in Germany, home to Hyundai’s European test centre where the manufacturer’s models built on the European continent are developed and tested. The i30N underwent 10,000km of driving on the Nordschleife circuit at the Nürburgring to test its durability.
The N symbol also has another meaning that speaks to the car’s track credentials. The letter is a depiction of a race chicane and represents the i30N’s philosophy of translating the joy of negotiating winding motorsport tracks to the fun of everyday road driving.
Get your heart racing
In 2015, the Hyundai Motor Company took a step by hiring Albert Biermann, who has a wealth of experience honing the performance and dynamics of high-performance road and race cars. Biermann, now president and head of the vehicle performance division, used his knowledge and experience of high-performance production cars to spearhead the development of the Hyundai N brand.
“We aren’t afraid to do things differently here. Our N cars balance performance and practicality so that they are fun to drive every day. Every N car loves cornering, hence the nickname we have given to their character: ‘corner rascal'. Whether it’s urban commuting or track driving, N handles it beautifully,” says Biermann.
The i30N was launched in 2017 at the Frankfurt International Motor Show but, thanks to Hyundai Motor’s experience in the high-octane world of motorsport, the first ideas were born on the track long before and developed to deliver a car – which screams fun as much as its racing engine hums.
Feel the feeling
While it is based on the i30 five-door, the i30N boasts its own unique design. It shimmers with the blue colouring synonymous with Hyundai Motorsport race cars. The model has an enlarged version of Hyundai’s defining cascading grille providing more air cooling to the engine and brakes.
When the driver hits the throttle and shifts through the gears, the i30N’s rev-matching function supports smooth gear shifting, while the overboost function increases torque (+8%) and acceleration (+6-7%) from the two-litre, 202kW turbocharged engine.
The exhilarating feeling is enhanced by the car’s sound from the dual muffler exhaust featuring the variable exhaust valve system, and the cockpit of the i30N shows key performance parameters through the new instrument cluster and the eight-inch free-floating screen’s modes such as the G-Force meter for live tracking of performance.
“At Hyundai, we always accept new challenges and try different things to deliver groundbreaking experiences for our customers. We aren’t here to simply build cars, we want to create emotions, feelings and desire,” says Thomas Schemera, executive vice president and head of the high-performance vehicle and motorsport division at Hyundai Motor Company.
Those feelings and emotions are even more intense in the i30N, which we got to experience throughout the day by driving through the Winelands and public roads. We also got to experience top speeds on a nearby racetrack. The i30N boasts a top speed of 250km/h and goes from 0–100 km/h in just 6.1 seconds. That is all thanks to the powerful T-GDi engine, generating 353Nm torque from 1,500-4,700 r/min., reaching a maximum of 378Nm for a brief period when in overboost.
Inside, the i30N combines the latest connectivity technology with performance analysing software. Entertainment features include smart-device synching through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the eight-inch free-floating screen. Satellite navigation information can also be displayed, but for those race-day track experiences, the car’s systems can also record lap times and cornering forces thanks to a G-Force meter.
Aimed at customers of an average age of 32, the i30N comes in Polar White, Micron Grey, Performance Blue, Phantom Black and Engine Red, and will be on sale at 14 selected Hyundai dealerships in South Africa, and one each in Botswana and Namibia. The South African i30N dealerships are Belville, Somerset West, Port Elizabeth, Durban South, Pinetown, Umhlanga, Richard’s Bay, East Rand, The Glen, Sandton, Roodepoort, Centurion, Wonderboom and Polokwane.
The Hyundai i30N goes on sale at a suggested retail price of R679,900, which includes a seven-year/200,000km warranty, roadside assistance for seven years or 150,000km, and five-year/75,000km service plan. Service intervals are 15,000km or once a year.
After experiencing the i30N, Hyundai has certainly given ‘fun to drive’ a new meaning.
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