Awhile back, we learned that Hyundai was developing its own performance division to take on smaller performance cars from BMW M Performance and Audi Sport. Well, the South Korean brand has finally done it, it’s called the N Division and its first product is here — the Hyundai i30 N.
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While the Hyundai i30 N won’t be a BMW M2 competitor, as it isn’t powerful enough, fast enough or dynamic enough to take on a proper M car, it’s certainly capable of competing with cars like the BMW M140i and Audi S3. Admittedly, though, both of those cars would crush the Hyundai i30 N in a straight line. The little Hyundai hatchback packs a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 247 hp (271 hp with a Performance Package) and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as its only option. With that, it gets from 0-60 in 6.1 seconds with the Performance Package. So its quite a few ticks off the time of a BMW M140i.
However, this little Hyundai isn’t about pure straight-line speed. It’s about being a fun-to-drive, nippy little hot hatch. We’re confident that it will be genuinely fun to drive, as it has some BMW M DNA in it. Hyundai’s performance car boss is Albert Biermann, who was formerly of BMW’s M Division. So there’s some real smarts behind this little hatchback, regardless of what badge lies on the hood.
“The Hyundai i30 N has been developed for no other purpose than to deliver maximum driving fun to our customers in an accessible high-performance package,” says Biermann. The spec sheet reads very well (even if it’s a smidgen less powerful than we expected, and some way behind the Civic), while our first impressions behind the wheel proved promising, too.
It even looks pretty good. Those squinty headlights and trapezoidal grille make it look sharp and angry. In profile, it’s boxy and athletic looking and at the back it sort of looks like a VW GTI, which is probably no accident. Inside, the cabin looks smartly laid out and it seems to have some genuine sporty bits. The seats look like they hug well, the steering wheel looks like it fits well in hand and the shifter looks cool. It’s all very sporty and modern and hip. I dig it.
While the Hyundai i30 N won’t rival a proper BMW M car, it should be able to hang with a BMW M140i and Audi S3 on a twisty road. Even if it can only hang with them, without actually beating them, that’s a win for Hyundai, who’s just getting into the performance car game. Plus, it had a little help from BMW M.