When normal people want a hot hatch, they buy a Golf GTI. When rich people want a hot hatch, they buy a A45 AMG or a Focus RS. But the Golf’s a bit boring, the Mercedes is hysterically expensive, and the Focus RS is popping head gaskets like a six-year-old pops bubbles.
So what’s one to do if one wants a good-looking, reliable, practical and fun hatchback that can still stand out without looking stupid? If this review from Carwow is to be believed, then the thing to do is buy a Hyundai i30 N.
The i30 N, in its N Performance guise, makes a very decent 271 bhp and 260 lb-ft of torque (or it can overboost to 279). It rides on special 19-inch wheels, is slathered with relatively tasteful go-faster bits and red accents. Hyundai’s engineers have put real effort into giving the i30 N all the features an enthusiast would want: every setting is individually configurable, so you can have sporty steering and hard suspension without an obnoxious exhaust note, for example.
It also only comes with a manual transmission, the handbrake isn’t a stupid button, the rev-matching is fully adjustable, and Hyundai even made sure that if you opt for power seats, you don’t sit any higher than you do without them.
There are also practical advantages: it has a better warranty than a Golf, it’s quite a lot cheaper than a Golf, it’s much more reliable than a Golf, it makes a lot more power and torque than a Golf, and it looks better than a Golf too.
The i30 N is part of a wave of Korean performance models hoping to compete with other sporty cars (mostly German ones, incidentally) in an effort to shake off the econobox image that has plagued them for a good few decades. The latter just launched the tremendous rear-wheel drive Stinger GT as a cheaper alternative to the 3-Series, and Hyundai’s Genesis brand is rolling out sportier versions of its G80 and G70 too.
They say that in a few years everyone will be driving Chinese cars–but if this trend continues, all the enthusiasts might be driving Korean ones.