Motoring Writer IAN LAMMING makes a special delivery in the new hothatch from Hyundai, the stunning i30N

SIXTY eight miles and an almost two hour drive, all to drop off a card and a present.

But when your good old dad is celebrating his 91st birthday then you really should make the effort.

Effort. Hmmm? Is it though? Really? Well, no, not when you are in this particular test car. A happens to be a country home, C is father’s house in God’s own country and B is almost three score and ten miles of wonderfully serpentine roads. Better still, it’s a week day and I have that tarmac track to myself.

It doesn’t even matter that the weather is wet and the roads are awash because this new Hyundai is so accomplished.

This particular five door hatchback carries the moniker i30N. N? Not S, R or GTi? No, it’s definitely an N and that N stand 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.

Finally N, from a certain angle, looks like a set of switchback chicanes and hints at where this particular car will perform the best. Who knew the simple letter N could say so much – Hyundai, I suppose.

So, to i30N. At a glance it looks like an i30, a neat enough, serviceable five door hatchback. Then the changes begin with exclusive, enhanced, front and rear bumpers and grille, rear roof spoiler and shark fin antenna, humongous 19in alloys with liquorice-thin fat rubber, polished, growling twin tailpipes and red brake callipers with N logos – and suddenly it starts to morph nicely into a red hot hatch.

Inside gets the same treatment with leather-look trim, alloy inserts and body-hugging electrically adjustable sports seats. 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.

Press the starter button, the 2.0 turbocharged motor barks into life and the fun and games begin. Close your eyes for a second and use your other senses and it feels, sounds and even smells like a super car, it really does. The clutch and six speed gearbox are weighty, with bags of feel, so you know they have been designed to handle considerable power – in this case 275PS.

Ride is firm, without being too uncomfortable and under way it is clear to see the reason why. This car really does handle. It grips, even in the wet, there is no cabin roll and the steering is pin sharp and tactile. It’s fantastic, really involving and fun to drive, grin-inducing in the extreme, but also exceptionally safe and controlled, with powerful brakes and loads of electronics to keep the performance in check.

Not that anyone would drive this way through the dales, but for those who love statistics, the benchmark 62mph comes up in 6.1 seconds and the top speed is 155mph – perhaps when you use it around the Nürburgring, eh?

Sixty eight miles fly by in a scintillating journey of joyous driving and there’s the return trip to look forward to as well. There’s been no need on these roads to exceed the legal limits to enjoy the sheer joy of driving.

And day to day use also reveals i30N’s many talents. It is practical for the family and with the seats down in the back it easily swallows the awkward shape of a bicycle. It is comfortable in traffic and around the shop car parks; it is happy to ply the highways as well as the byways.

But when you can, you’ll find yourself finding an excuse to get behind the wheel – like delivering a birthday card which could have easily been put in the post. It gives old meaning to the new phrase of let’s zoom.

Fact File
Hyundai i30N Performance 2.0 T-GDi
Engine: 2.0 turbo petrol
Power: 275PS
0-62mph: 6.1 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 34.9
Transmission: six speed manual
CO2 g/km: 176
Price: £29,810.00