Thrilling to the Nth degree – Hyundai’s i30 N from the critic’s couch

- Hyundai’s exhilarating i30 N hot hatch can present armchair critics with a unique problem – how do they review a car that absolutely hates to sit still?

From a static position, there's just no way to truly appreciate the unique characteristics of a high-performance car that was designed to be as fun to drive in everyday life on the road as it is on a race track.

To solve this conundrum, Hyundai brought a critic – and his comfy couch – to Snetterton Race Circuit in the UK to witness the i30 N Performance in all its blisteringly fun to drive glory.

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The Track Race

The twist: to get that critic as close to the fun as possible, that comfy couch was secured to a flatbed truck and towed around the race track at high speed. Of course, it couldn’t touch the i30 N Performance (which accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 6.1 seconds), but it certainly gives us a great way to see just how incredible Hyundai’s hot hatch really is.

With a choice of five different driving modes, the i30 N offers more options than the average performance car. Normal covers everyday driving, ECO increases its economy and efficiency, while Sport mode injects athleticism and aggression into the car.

But – as our critic discovered – N mode is where the car really comes to life. Hit that button and suddenly the engine roars, the dampeners stiffen and it becomes agile and alert. You can brake right the way into the hairpin, allowing the 19-inch Pirelli tyres to grip into the tarmac, providing fantastic traction.

In N Custom mode you can tailor the suspension, rev-match, the exhaust sound, the engine and completely turn off the Electronic Stability Control (ESC). Even on the straights, it handles itself at speeds of up to 155 miles per hour.

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The Hairpin

Watching the i30 N tear through Snetterton’s hairpin corners, the critic explained that the reason you’ll want to opt for the Performance Package isn’t just the specially-developed 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero high-performance Hyundai N tyres, larger brake discs, N Corner Carving Differential and Variable Exhaust Valve System that provide the optimal race track experience.

It’s also that with ESC turned off, all of these extras mean you’ll have maximum driving fun – because when Hyundai says “off”, it really means “off”. You’ll be able to tighten your line and add extra speed through the corners, just like a professional race driver would.

The N Corner Carving Differential (Electronically Controlled Limited Slip Differential) enhances the car’s stability, delivering optimum torque correction that prevents the i30 N’s wheels from slipping and reducing understeer when cornering.

The i30 N’s front axle benefits from an enhanced lateral stiffness and reduced weight compared to the five-door version. The N Power Sense axle sends fast and precise feedback from the front axle to the driver, improving grip and transferring engine power to the road effectively.

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The Backseat Driver

Of course, while all of these components give the i30 N sensational performance, Hyundai didn’t forget about the most important component of all: the driver. To connect whoever’s behind the wheel to this incredible car, the i30 N is full of some amazing technology.

The i30 N’s Launch Control controls engine torque when starting from the standstill, helping to launch it like a professional race car. Launch Control can be effectively used in N drive mode: with the off-switched Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and the clutch disengaged, the first gear can be engaged immediately by releasing the clutch pedal within five seconds after full throttle acceleration.

The car’s eight-inch touchscreen supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, enabling users to connect their devices to deliver and control music, telephone and messaging or navigation functions on-screen. It also features the N Performance Display, which gives you information including G-force, torque, the turbo boost and acceleration and lap timers.

The i30 N features uniquely designed high-performance sport seats with powerful lumbar support at the push of a button. And extendable seat cushions further enhance the feeling of the car being moulded around you for the most comfortable driving position a hot hatch can offer.