What's the used Hyundai i30N hatchback like?
Imitation is, apparently, the sincerest form of flattery. Many have tried to copy the winning formula of the mighty Volkswagen Golf GTI – a car that is practically the synonym for hot hatch – but, more often than not, they have come up short. As a used purchase, however, things start to look less favourable for the GTI. Due to its popularity, prices remain high and therefore allow less expensive alternatives, such as the Hyundai i30N, to give the Golf a real run for its money.
The i30N is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that can be had in two different flavours: a standard 247bhp version, or a hotter 271bhp Performance variant that gets upgraded brakes, stickier tyres and an electronic limited-slip differential that helps to meter out the power in tight corners. You also get an active exhaust on the more powerful i30N that sounds great and even emits popping sounds when you lift off the accelerator.
The handling is a bit of a revelation because it’s wonderfully composed, even on rough roads. Every i30N has adaptive dampers that can be slackened off to their most forgiving setting without compromising body control. Even a mid-corner ripple does little to alter the car’s stability. The steering is progressive in comfort mode and builds weight in a linear manner, while the brakes are nice and strong and give you confidence when tackling a challenging road.
Aside from some purposeful looking sports seats, there’s little inside the i30N to differentiate it from its lesser siblings, which is a shame considering rivals like the Honda Civic Type R have put in the extra effort to make you feel like you’re driving something special. There isn’t anything wrong with it, per se, because the infotainment system is responsive and easy to navigate and all the controls are logically laid out and feel well screwed together. It’s not quite as premium feeling as it is in a Golf GTI but, given the i30N costs less, you can forgive this.
However, the i30N isn’t as practical as its rivals because the boot is on the pokey side, and Performance versions have a removable chassis brace behind the rear seats that, unless you remember to unscrew it beforehand, can be an obstruction when you fold the rear bench flat. Rear seat passengers aren’t treated to quite the same amount of leg room as they are in the Civic, although head room is fine. Those upfront will find plenty of room and the driver gets lots of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. Electric seats are standard on top-tier Performance cars.
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