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Hyundai i30 N driven to extremes

Hot Hyundai i30 N hatch gets ice and heat torture ahead of Q4 launch in Australia


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16 Mar 2017

HYUNDAI has put its first ‘N’ high-performance model, the i30 N, to extremes in testing in recent weeks, pushing it to the limits on an icy frozen lake in Sweden and through the blazing heat of the Australian outback.

The i30 N is going through its final shake-down testing ahead of this year’s global launch that includes Australia before Christmas.

In Sweden, Hyundai’s World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Thierry Neuville drove a test mule on a frozen lake to try out its dynamic capabilities, including the electronic stability control, limited-slip differential, steering, shock absorbers, suspension and tyres.

“The engineers have done a great job on the gearbox and the differential,” Mr Neuville said.

“There is good traction and good stability in the slippery testing conditions.

And it’s very easy to handle. A normal driver should get a sensation similar to that of a racing car.”

Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) public relations general manager Bill Thomas said that a hot-weather development mule had been testing in Australia in the last couple of months.

“We’ve had similar test cars in Australia recently, so we’ve had a hot weather test car here,” he said.

“It’s actually just gone back to Korea, but we’ve had a hot weather test car out here recently for a couple of months.”

Mr Thomas explained that the Australian car was here with a team of HMC engineers to test the powertrain in hot conditions, but i30 N chassis development would take place predominantly at Hyundai’s development facility at Germany’s Nurburgring.

“(Hyundai executive vice president for vehicle testing and high performance development) Albert Biermann and the N Performance team said that they’re going to be tuning the car in Germany and elsewhere in Europe exclusively,” he said.

“They’ve got a higher degree of control over this car than usual. However, a really important aspect to that is we will be sending some engineers from Australia to be involved in the chassis tune for the car.

“So we’re not sure on timing for that just yet, but it’s likely to be May/June, and we will have input into the final tune which will happen in Europe.

“So on one hand the N guys are quite controlled in where they tune, but on the other hand they’re inviting us as one of the key markets to contribute to that tune.”

While precise Australian timing is yet to be confirmed, Mr Thomas said he hoped the i30 N would be ready to be launched at the 2017 WRC Rally Australia in November.

It will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder making at least 184kW, with an optional Performance Pack boosting that number to 202kW.

Initially be offered exclusively with a six-speed manual gearbox, with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission expected to arrive around 2019.

Mr Thomas was unable to confirm if a five-door fastback variant of the i30 would be coming to Australia, but he said it would replace the three-door hatch that was sold briefly here before being discontinued.

“With PD (new-generation nomenclature) there isn’t a three-door hatch.

Previously we sold the three-door for a little while here is Australia, but with PD there isn’t the three-door version of the car so the fastback effectively replaces that,” he said.

“So you’ve got a wagon, a five-door hatch and a five-door fastback.”

Mr Thomas said the fastback had not been confirmed for Australia, but added that more customer choice was “almost always better”.

He said the production location of the fastback would play into HMCA’s decision whether or not to sell it.

“It’s always good to give customers choice, to give them the widest possible choice of cars, but there are a lot of other factors involved with that particular model,” he said.

“One of the most important things from our point of view is where the car will be made, because that dictates what sort of exchange rate pressures it will be under.

“At the moment we’re not sure what the score is with where that fastback will be made and where it will be made available, but certainly as ever we always look at all the models that are released overseas and gauge their effectiveness for Australia.”

The Australian-bound i30 hatch, which arrives here next month, is built in Hyundai’s native South Korea, while the not-for-Australia i30 wagon is built in the Czech Republic.

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