BEHIND THE WHEEL: Hyundai i30N Fastback
MONDAY JUNE 15, 2020
While in Tasmania for a conference, I was given a Hyundai i30 Active. Prior to landing, I managed expectations by telling myself that it will only be a week and this is only temporary. Like many courtesy cars of the past, they bring me down by being unstable on motorways and worst of all, terrible to drive and back to the i30. It was not equipped with keyless go and once I got in, a sea of black and grey greeted me. Well, what do you expect from thirty-thousand Australian dollars?
Before going into serious business, I stopped by the best whisky maker we probably never heard of, Sullivans Cove, conveniently eight minutes away from Hobart airport. Six kilometres was all it took to reveal what’s underneath this i30. It’s 1.6-turbocharged engine pulls strongly from the get go, gearbox’s decisive and suspension calibrated well for less than perfect roads. A week with that car got my curiosity for an N.
One fine engine
Standard sports exhaust
Could be lighter
0-100 km/h: 6.1s
Top speed: 250 km/h
For fifteen thousand more, you lose an automatic for a manual in return for a lot more power. And for the bespoke looking Fastback version, that’s an extra two. Not something I noticed in the normal version, getting to my preferred driving position wasn’t easy as it took more than a few tweaks for me. I was rather worried about the front lip as my driveway takes bits of it off every day however this isn't a problem to an MX-5 RF. The gear lever gives a good grip but it is not as fine as the industry benchmark even with the help of auto rev matching.
Despite riding on nineteen inch rubbers, ride in normal mode is unusually composed. Also, outside noise is kept to a minimum even with a large sunroof. The interior is littered with more soft panels than expected at this price point and being seated higher than a coupe normally would, city hustling in the Fastback doesn’t require as much attention. Like all Kia and Hyundai infotainment, they are quick and logically laid-out but in 2020, some more definition is required.
All that goodness doesn’t matter as much as how it reacts to input and that sports exhaust. Into N mode, both the engine and exhaust makes an even angrier note. The stiffened suspension doesn’t take you to the chiropractor and on a fairly dry day, no torque steering was felt. Many cars tend to lurch and jerk in full-on attack mode but not this one, it can be driven solely on this mode. Steering is direct and connected, brilliant front-drive application with none of the customary drawbacks. If anything, the i30N is too fast, too capable for this side of the world.
Have it set back to normal, it doesn’t go lethargic to save every drop of fuel. The ride relaxes to become an accommodative sedan. A bunch of people have definitely been hard at work to make the N rewarding to drive in any mode. When it was time to give it back, I was glad to have spent time in an N product. It really is a new dawn over at Namyang. Cars for the masses with all the options you’d ever need and that N logo on its key, very nice touch.