Hyundai soon to be testing its hot hatch models in SA

With 202kW of power, the i30N could arrive to take on the Golf GTI and Megane RS

27 June 2019 - 08:23 By Mark Smyth
The Hyundai i30N will be tested for the SA market shortly. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Hyundai i30N will be tested for the SA market shortly. Picture: SUPPLIED

Enthusiasts in SA got really excited when Hyundai revealed its i30 N hot hatch. It promised to take on the Volkswagen Golf GTi, Ford Focus ST and Renault Megane RS with its 202kW and 353Nm outputs. But then Hyundai SA said it would be too expensive and it never arrived.

But get excited once more, because it still might be heading our way according to our source within Hyundai SA. In fact I can tell you for sure that at least two are.

This month, two units will arrive for homologation testing to see if they are suitable for SA. That’s one step closer to the i30 N hitting the market and means the company must be fairly sure it can make the pricing competitive.

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That won’t be easy of course, because internationally it undercuts many of its rivals significantly and without export credits, Hyundai SA will have a hard time making the numbers work.

We drove it overseas back in 2017 and our Michael Taylor seemed reasonably impressed with what Hyundai’s new N performance division had achieved.

Pin striping and bright brake callipers liven up the looks of the 202kW hot hatch. Picture: SUPPLIED
Pin striping and bright brake callipers liven up the looks of the 202kW hot hatch. Picture: SUPPLIED
Image: Supplied

Perfected on the Nurburgring, Hyundai has done its best to make the i30 N a proper driver’s car rather than just a performance hot hatch it can sell in big numbers. It’s stiffened and strengthened everything, tweaked the brakes, upgraded the engine and even changed the tyres, all in the interests of making it a serious rival to the established pocket rockets.

It’s even given it a six-speed manual gearbox, rev-matching, launch control and a special N-mode which the company says turns it from being a hot hatch to a proper sports car.

The company has taken it racing and it’s done rather well too. An i30 N won the 2018 FIA International Touring Car Racing championship and currently lies in third place in the 2019 season.

The interior gets a bit of N treatment and a six-speed manual gearbox. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior gets a bit of N treatment and a six-speed manual gearbox. Picture: SUPPLIED

For those who don’t want the whole performance thing, Hyundai also offers N-Line packages. Sadly it looks as though the company still won’t be bringing these to SA though, which is a pity because we’ve just driven the latest i30 N-Line model and we quite liked it. It looks the part with sporty body styling and interior trim items to match the performance of its turbocharged four-cylinder motor.

When you consider the popularity of trim levels like Volkswagen’s R-Line and Audi’s S-Line, as well as BMW’s M-Performance then perhaps Hyundai SA could consider bringing a bit of sporty style to its models rather than just giving some of its SUVs a bit of aftermarket treatment and a 1980s style turbo badge. 

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