Imagine being able to take a stock car, straight from the showroom floor, trash it around a big track, all day, and not only drive it back home afterward with no issue whatsoever, but also rest assured that you have not voided the warranty in the process. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what you can do in reality with the 2022 Hyundai i30 N hot hatch.
In fact, Hyundai Australia’s factory five-year, unlimited-distance warranty covers track driving on all of its showroom models, not just the N stuff. Not that you’d want to set lap times in your Staria Load work van. But hey, it’s good to know you can if you want to and still be covered by warranty.
We were fortunate enough to have a taste of this experience at a recent track day organised by Evolve Driving, at non-other-than Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Hyundai gave us a slot in the event, and the keys to an i30 N hatchback with the brilliant eight-speed dual-clutch auto.
Prices for this little beast start from $48,000 (excluding on-roads). And before you say it, yes, that is a relatively steep price for a hatchback. But, honestly, you really do get a lot of car for your money; loads of hardcore engineering bundled into an already-sound practical hatch.
2022 HYUNDAI i30 N DCT – THE SPECS
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder Output: 206kW@5600rpm / 392Nm@2100-4700rpm Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto Drive type: Front-wheel drive, limited-slip diff 0-100km/h: 5.4 seconds (claimed), 5.19 seconds (PD test) Tare weight: 1511kg Official fuel economy: 8.5L/100km
Starting price: $48,000
Mount Panorama is, as you probably already know, one of the most iconic motorsport circuits in the country. We can also confirm it is the most exciting circuit in the country, too. A big part of the excitement is due to the fact it is a public road for most of the year. And having driven around it on various occasions in the past, as a public road under the 60km/h speed limit, it is merely a fraction of a sample at what the track is like at full speed.
Being a public road most of the time means the surface is not mirror-smooth. There are some bumps. There are also other elements not usually incorporated into the designs of dedicated circuits, such as blind crests, stomach-turning dippers and rises, mega straights, and off-camber corners that try to pull your car down and off the road. It’s both thrilling and challenging at the same time.
Why are we talking so much about Mount Panorama, you might ask. Isn’t this an i30 N review? Well, it is, but we can’t emphasise enough how daunting and unpredictable this track is. And so the point we’re getting at is, it really helps if you’re comfortable with your car. And that’s where the i30 N comes in.
This is a car that, straight out of the box, just wants to drive. It loves driving. Perhaps more than you do. And it has been set up to feel as real and as raw as you can get in these modern times. You’ve also got loads of different settings to play with, including throttle response, exhaust loudness, and even modes for the limited-slip differential. It is extremely adaptable.
Out on the track the drive is just the same; adaptable. We were surprised to see the speedo nudging 245km/h down conrod straight. After all, it’s not exactly a top-end power machine. However, it adapts and fits in with the conditions, no matter how demanding. And then around corners it is pure joy. The steering feels natural and provides all the feedback you need, and the grip levels are incredible. According to the on-board display, the car pulls over 1.0G in lateral force around bends.
At this point we should tell you the car you see in these pictures, the car we used on the track, is completely standard except for a set of N Performance brake pads in the front. These upgraded pads are available as an official accessory. They are worth it, because even pulling up from 200km/h through the kink, the brakes remain competent and trustworthy.
As we found out during our initial review of the DCT option, there is no shortage of engine grunt, either. The roaring and eager 2.0-litre turbo produces 206kW at 6000rpm, and a meaty 392Nm between a wide 2100-4700rpm window. We saw 0-100km/h come up in just 5.19 seconds during our original tests. That’s an incredibly quick time for a front-wheel drive. Especially one that does not feature any out-of-the-ordinary components, like a stripped out interior or special track tyres.
2022 HYUNDAI i30 N DCT – THE VIDEO
In many ways, the 2022 Hyundai i30 N DCT is like a spiritual vision of what a BMW M hot hatch might have been like in 2010-2015. Hardcore track capability, dual-clutch auto with rapid-fire gear changes, mechanical diff, lap timers and drive modes, all wrapped up in a relatively practical and everyday-liveable, neat-looking car.
In that sense, it’s a shame Albert Biermann has retired as Hyundai’s chief of development, because this i30 N could end up being one of the last of its kind before hybrid and other technologies come in. But at least he has laid the foundations for the company so we can expect more great things to come in the future, just perhaps not as raw and mechanical as this one.