Hyundai isn’t rushing the development of their first proper product from their new N performance division, so those eager to get their paws on the i30 N will have to be a little more patient despite previous teaser footage late last year encouraging speculation that the car was as good as ready.
Right now, it would seem that the hot hatch is undergoing the winter trial portion of its testing and refinement program - perhaps one of the final phases before being ramped up for a full launch, tentatively later this year.
In Arjeplog, Sweden at the edge of the Arctic circle, the i30 N is being put through its paces, and FIA World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville was on deck to demonstrate the car to some conveniently ready cameras for us to enjoy.
The Belgian driver wasted no time in getting the car properly sideways, demonstrating its balance, giving us an earful of its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, and praising the car’s dynamics, steering, limited slip differential, and slickness of the manual transmission.
“So many people have been looking forward to this car, so it’s a pleasure for me to be testing it,” Neuville said. “The engineers have done a good job on the gearbox and the differential. There is good traction and stability in the slippery testing conditions and it’s very easy to handle. A normal driver should get a sensation similar to a race car.”
It was encouraging words that we have no reason to doubt too much aside from Neuville being on Hyundai’s WRC campaign payroll. The car does seem to handle as well as he claims to be enjoying it. We reckon he’d be happier with an all-wheel drive version, which hasn’t been ruled out.
Extrapolating the i30 N’s final look is still a little tricky given the thick layers of camouflage and protective material applied to the winter testing unit, though the wheels are a set of large Y-spoked alloys that look new to the marque and should be the ones fitted as standard.
Other than those, we did spy twin exhausts, and a more aggressive aero package that gives the N-fettled i30 a more muscular stance on the road, expectedly. When it debuts, it’s reported that the car will be tiered into two performance tunes, with the most powerful producing roughly 194kW to match the likes of the Peugeot 308 GTI, Ford Focus ST, and Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance.