2018 Hyundai i30 N Performance First Drive: Korea's GTI Is Here

The hot hatch sector may be fierce, but Hyundai means business with the i30N. This is the Korean car maker’s first dedicated model to represent Hyundai’s emerging high-performance vehicle division, otherwise known as ‘N’.

The N brand may still be in its infancy -  the moniker was first introduced on the Hyundai i20 WRC rally car in 2014 – yet the team behind this race-inspired road car are proven, with some big hires coming from BMW’s M Division.

Two versions are set to go on UK sale in January 2018: the 247bhp i30 N and the range-topping 271bhp i30 N Performance on test here. Both versions use a turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine, but the Performance is fitted with bigger wheels, bigger brakes and an electronic limited-slip differential. It's expected to account for more than 90 percent of UK sales. 

Hyundai i30 N
Hyundai i30 N

First impressions

Rest assured this isn’t just a regular Hyundai i30 with exclusive Performance Blue paint. The i30 N Performance has been two and half years in the making and features hefty mechanical and aero upgrades.

Compared to the regular five-door hatchback, the i30N Performance sits 8mm lower with extended arches to accommodate 19-inch wheels, bespoke Pirelli P-Zero tyres and distinctive red N branded brake callipers with larger brake discs (18-inch at the front, 17-inch at the rear). The black side sills help to make the car look lower, while the third triangular brake light and rear diffuser, bookended by a pair of exhausts, offer a motorsport vibe.

Under the skin,...