There were many new, interesting and exciting cars exhibited at this years Auto trade fair. As a hot hatch fanatic I immediately bolted towards hanging lower lips and unnecessarily large exhaust pipes.
What makes the Auto trade fair in Helsinki (Finland) unique is that you have the opportunity to test drive many different cars. This year there was nearly 200 cars which anyone with a valid driver's license could test drive out on the public roads. To my enjoyment, and many others', the Hyundai i30N Performance was one of them.
I was very excited to drive it since it has acclaimed much praise in the car journalist world. And let me tell you something, the title of this post says it all. It is the greatest hot hatch I have ever driven and the first Korean car I'd actually want to buy.
Let us start off with the styling. It is aggressive but subtle, large alloys and red and black details. Small aero augmentations front and back and large exhausts pipes is what sets the N apart from the normal i30. I think it looks brilliant. Strikes the hot hatch balance of looking ordinary but different. The i30N sits in the hot hatch styling bracket between the over styled Civic Type R and the boring Golf GTI.
In the interior the eye is immediately drawn to the large blue buttons on the steering wheel. These buttons are very important since they change the cars personality, aka drive modes. Hyundai has set up the drive modes to near perfection. Comfort is comfortable and the race mode is hard but forgiving. In race mode the exhaust becomes louder and starts to snort, fart and crackle. It is probably the best and most evocative 2.0 litre four cylinder sound in the car industry today.
The test drive was only 20 minutes but during that time I felt the quick and sometimes violent acceleration. It was not dangerous, though, since the electronic slip differential and other wizardry helped the car move along instead of being a nuisance. When buying the i30N go for the Performance package since only then will you get the slip diff. You'll need it when going on track days and leaving the fast Golfs looking at your tail pipes. Oh, and you have 275 hp in your disposal, which is a 25 hp increase over the standard i30N.
I like this Hyundai just as much as the Ford Fiesta ST, which is a probable future classic. Will the Hyundai be the first Korean car to become a classic in Europe? I think it's too early to say. If Hyundai decide to produce a second generation i30N, then I think the first generation will be in for a shout to become a classic in the future.
The purposeful and determined blue buttons on the steering wheel will be this car's hallmark for its reputation. The ony thing now is to wait for an i30N fastback.
Some financial numbers for the Hyundai i30N Performance Pack:
30,156€ (taxfree) 42,390€ (with taxes in Finland).