Motoring writer Ian Lamming goes on a rescue mission in the stunning new Hyundai i30N
TEENAGERS eh? It’s only been 18 hours since I drove him 90 miles to his party and now he’s desperate to get back home, thanks to a sleepless night of fun and frivolity, fuelled by an excess of Haribos and sugary drinks.
Now he’s paying the price, on the verge of feeling ill and is certainly grumpy and disinterested. He seems to have forgotten to do his ablutions despite taking his various paraphernalia, so he wants to get home quickly for a shower, fresh clothes and some wholesome food – and probably a sneaky cuddle from his mum while no-one is looking.
Two days of driving, a 360-mile cross-country jaunt, just so he can have a sleepover in a trendy festival-style tent with his chums.
Any casual passer-by or parent might think the sortie would leave a hapless dad feeling a tad fed up himself – but not me as I’ve been able to complete the journey in Hyundai’s exhilarating i30N.
When time is of the essence fast dual carriageway would be the preferred option but in this case that’s not to be and the bulk of the route is twisty A and B roads, just the sort of terrain the i30N is built for in fact. It’s truly a car for the N-thusiast.
The i30 is Hyundai’s sterling medium sized hatchback but with added, well, just about everything.
Slip into the sporty cockpit to be embraced by body-hugging sports seats and press the starter button. The 2.0 turbo growls into life with a menacing burble that promises nothing less than peak performance.
There’s also a clue in the look; sleek, wide, low-slung, with huge 19-inch alloys complete with red brake callipers, a deep grille, striking V-shaped signature day running lights, wide twin exhausts and black spoiler atop the hatchback. It all looks fabulous.
Hit the first set of twisties and the i30N’s sheer poise is clear to see, or at least feel. It is firm and sporty yet not so rigid that it affects comfort levels, which remain high. The steering is weighty with bags of feel and the ride and grip are amazing. They need to be because performance is electric making it the perfect tool for a cross-country mercy mission. There is 280PS under the bonnet which passes through an eight-speed automatic gearbox that ensures the massive reserves of torque are always available when you need them – such as overtaking slow movers and climbing steep hills. And it does this with an aural quality that delights those inside the well-appointed cabin.
The 90 miles are dispatched within two hours and I’ve loved every mile thanks to the i30N’s amazing dynamics. Teenager scooped up and poured into the sports passengers seat he’s asleep before I reach the end of the driveway, the bucket seats cradling perfectly his lanky form. I should drive home slowly so not to disturb him but that would be a waste. Anyway, regardless of my driving style nothing is going to wake his comatose state, so I enjoy the return leg just as much.
Spirited driving still has the trip computer buried in the mid-30s and when I do finally pootle, commuting less exuberantly, the figure strays close to 40, which is great for such a genuinely sporty vehicle.
In case you are wondering N stands for Namyang, Hyundai Motor’s global R&D centre in Korea, where the idea for a high-performance i30 was born.
N is also for the Nürburgring, that iconic German race and test track, which is home to Hyundai Motor’s European Test Centre, where the N was further developed and tested to within an inch of its new life.
Inside, on the small chunky steering wheel, there are a couple of important paddles, one featuring a chequered flag, which, if pressed, turns a vocal car into an even louder one, firms up the suspension and steering and releases a beast; the other paddle offers the chance to go back to normal, which is anything but, by the way.
Day to day use also reveals i30’s many talents. It remains a practical five door family hatch, is comfortable in traffic and around the shop car parks; it is happy on the straight and narrow, the highways as well as the byways.
But when you’ve a mercy dash to make for a partied-out teen there’s no better way in which to travel, for both of you.
Hyundai i30N Performance 2.0 T-GDi
Engine: 2.0 turbo petrol
0-62mph: 5.9 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 34.9
Transmission: eight-speed DCT automatic
CO2 g/km: 182