New Ford Focus ST rival arrives after a lengthy development period; it’ll go on sale later this year from about £25k
Revealed alongside the i30 Fastback in Germany, the upcoming Ford Focus ST rival has been developed with a hard focus on performance. It has undergone a lengthy testing period, including more than 6000 miles of running on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, under the guidance of Hyundai’s high performance boss, former BMW M division executive Albert Biermann.
“The i30N has been developed for no other purpose than to deliver maximum driving fun to our customers in an accessible, high-performance package,” said Biermann. “With the high-performance N models we will enhance our brand’s appeal with emotional products that cater to the needs of people who love to have a smile on their face when they drive their car.”
The i30N features several design changes the five-door i30, with a cascading grille and new aerodynamic features at both its front and rear. These include wider intakes and a rear diffuser, with the latter helping to reduce lift at speed. It sits 4mm lower than the regular car and gets twin-exit exhausts at the back, along with 18in or optional 19in alloy wheels, which sit ahead of N-labelled brake calipers to signify the car’s performance.
The base-level i30N comes with a 2.0-litre T-GDI turbocharged four-cylinder that drives the front wheels via six-speed manual gearbox. The car produces 247bhp at 6000rpm and 260lb ft of torque at1450-4500rpm in standard form, enabling a zero to 62mph time of 6.4sec. But an optional performance pack edges maximum power output up to 271bhp, helping to trim the 62mph sprint time to 6.1sec – making the i30N comfortably Hyundai’s quickest model.
It also ensures that the i30N outpunches the Focus ST and even Volkswagen Golf GTI in even in its most basic state of tune, placing the new Korean car at the sharp end of the hot hatch segment. Hyundai has long asserted that its first N car will be capable of withstanding long periods of hard driving on circuit. It uses an electronic stability control system that can be completely switched off and cars with the performance package get electronic limited slip differential (E-LSD) technology.
The car has five drive modes, Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport N and N Custom, which can be selected via two buttons on the steering wheel. Cycling through the modes adjusts the car’s damping harshness, engine responses and exhaust volume. The N Custom mode enables drivers to opt for opposing settings for each, such as allowing the car to run with the softest ride but harshest drivetrain mode. The car also features a rev-matching system that can blip the throttle when the driver clicks down through the gears, as well as a launch control mode.
Along with its unique performance additions including bolstered sports seats, the i30N also gets Hyundai’s highest-specification cabin technology. This includes an 8.0in touchsreen infotainment system with satnav and access to Hyundai’s Live online services. Smartphone connectivity can be handled by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while a wireless inductive charging pad can be optioned in.
Driver assist features include autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert, lane keep assist and high beam assist technology. The car can also recognise road signs and displays them in the car’s TFT instrument display cluster.
The i30N will go on sale before the end of 2017, with production being handled by Hyundai’s Czech plant in Nošovice. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect a starting figure of around £25,000, which would align the car closely with the Focus ST but ensure it undercuts the Golf GTI.