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Hyundai N boss: “I don’t care about 'Ring lap times”

The man behind the fantastic i30N hot hatch prefers fun to speed

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“When we were testing and developing the i30N, we were never following track times.” So says Albert Biermann, boss of Hyundai’s N division, on its first proper hot hatch.

“I could not even give you my lap time on the Nordschleife in one,” he continues, despite the car being named after the Nürburgring. “We made many important decisions on this track – particularly in terms of aerodynamics.

“We use a brilliant wind tunnel back in Korea but I make my final decisions here, over Flugplatz or round Swedenkreuz. On the corners where you really need a big heart, we wanted the car safe and planted. That was the whole philosophy of the i30N. I still don’t care about the lap times!”

So while more powerful rivals like the Honda Civic Type R chase Nordschleife lap records, Biermann is happy steering clear. Especially as it makes the i30N a bit cheaper to buy, too.

“It was clear this car should be affordable for the younger guys, so there are no expensive Brembo brakes, we used Hyundai brakes. We could have put in a fancy Recaro seat, but we can make a seat that’s like a Recaro with our own technology and experience, and the cost difference is dramatic. We’ve made this level of fun and performance available to people who might not normally be able to afford it.”

Scour the accessories list and Hyundai offers its own, fancier bucket seats as well as some lightweight alloys and stickier tyres, for those who do want something a bit more serious. Biermann says the car has also been developed with trackday addicts – and their fanatical tuning – in mind.

“The i30N has a strut brace to compensate for the stiffness of cup tyres or circuit slicks, but it would be okay without it on the standard tyres,” he says, hinting “any of our cars are strong and substantial enough to make it into an N.” SUVs included, folks.

While Biermann may not be bothered by ‘Ring records, he still wants his cars to be fun to drive on track. And he’s extremely reverential about the track the i30N’s name nods to.

“In the tunnel from the old paddock, there’s a big sign with a German rhyme that says ‘everybody is praising what has been tested at the Nürburgring’,” he says, proudly showing us a picture on his phone of him stood before it.

“There are other cars that can say that, but we have joined the club of cars that can make that claim. When you test here, you have a good car. That is the statement.”

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