Gabriele Tarquini: the natural choice
To test the latter, what better way than hand it over to one of touring car’s greatest drivers and letting them loose on the four-kilometre Autodromo Vallelunga, one of Italy’s best race circuits. The driver in question was Gabriele Tarquini, who has won three championships, including the 2009 World Touring Car Championship, during a 25-year career representing teams in both national and international series at the highest levels of touring car competition.
The Italian was a natural choice to put the i30 N through its paces. Not only did Tarquini help develop the i30 N TCR - Hyundai Motorsport’s first car to be designed for circuit racing – as lead test driver, he then drove it to victory in its very first competitive race at the Zhejiang Circuit in China last October.
The i30 N and i30 N TCR: twins of the track
At Vallelunga, the first thing he’ll have noticed is the ‘Performance Blue’ colour that the i30 N shares with the i30 N TCR, forming the base identity of the N line-up. They also share the same N logo that represents a chicane, one of the most challenging obstacles faced by both race drivers of the i30 N TCR and those at the wheel of the i30 N. But will the latter be as good as the former when faced with one?
The answer is best summed up by Tarquini’s reaction as soon as he opened up the i30 N’s throttle: “Wow!” The moment the driving ace pressed the car’s N button, which puts it into its most dynamic sport setup – he reported an instant surge of sound and power, as well as feedback and feeling through the steering wheel and shock absorbers.
Hungry for every corner
Cornering the Vallelunga circuit at over 200kph, Tarquini reported that the car was very stable and commented on its noticeable downforce. Of course, this is precisely what the i30 N was designed to be, thanks to new performance features like its N Corner Carving Differential (Electronically Controlled Limited Slip Differential).
This allows the car’s wheels to turn at different speeds by applying different amounts of torque depending on the load transfer from the inner to the outer front axle wheel. Wheel slip in specific conditions is reduced and understeering on cornering minimised. The N Corner Carving Differential increases the maximum cornering speed and the fun you experience when driving through them.
Form follows function
Tarquini can also thank the principle of ‘form follows function’ that the i30 N’s designers applied when working with aerodynamic specialists to define the right ratio between the car’s downforce, drag and aerodynamics to create the best possible driving experience. The resulting lowered body, together with the newly designed aerodynamics, give the car its sporty silhouette and strong stance and enhances road balance and race track capabilities, while its front splitter and rear wing spoiler create downforce and an excellent aero-balance.
So according to one of touring car’s greatest competitors, the i30 N is every bit the racetrack performer it was built to be. As Tarquini reflected: “This car is not far away from my TCR car. The base is a very good car, the handling is very nice, the drive is very fun. You can enjoy this car in every circumstance.”