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Hyundai's i30 N hot hatch is nearly here
The hyper Hyundai gets a final snowy shakedown ahead of its launch, later this year
The snow spray you see above is actually quite a big motoring moment. That’s right – it’s finally (nearly) here: Hyundai’s first properly hot hatch is just a few months away.
Yes, it’s been a long time coming, but Hyundai, as you might expect, wants to get it right the first time, when the i30 N is launched later this year.
So, to make sure that the i30 N has a fighting chance in the new hot hatch arms race, they’ve enlisted none other than WRC racer Thierry Neuville to test its abilities on a frozen lake in Lapland. Hey, you never know when that might happen to you.The lake in question is one of many that dot the area around a small town called Arjeplog (pronounced a little bit like ‘Aria-ploog’), which is in a rather northern part of Sweden, well into Lapland and just 50km shy of the Arctic Circle.
The tiny town of about 2000 swells every winter, as an influx of engineers from major companies like Mercedes, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW descend on the town to conduct cold-weather torture tests on their upcoming cars.
And when we say torture test, we don’t say it lightly – temperatures can easily drop to -30ºC and have been known to sink as low as -40ºC. Despite the depth of the lakes – up to 200m in places – ice forms across the top in sheets up to a metre thick. And that’s where the fun – er, sorry, serious testing – takes place.
As you might expect, driving on a frozen lake in a road car tends to involve quite a bit of sliding about, so it helps that Neuville’s already on Hyundai Motorsport’s payroll as the pilot of their i20 WRC car. He’s also in a pretty decent position to give feedback on the first car to emerge from Hyundai’s N performance brand.
For those of you wondering where the ’N’ comes from, wonder no longer – Hyundai says that it represents a chicane, and the kind of car that makes a chicane fun. Simple, no?
Of course, the N could just as well represent Namyang, the home of Hyundai’s Korean R&D centre, or perhaps the Nürburgring, where the i30 N was honed at a £6m-odd facility that overlooks the Dottinger Hohe straight on the Nordschliefe. Many, many Ns. But it’s probably the chicane.
We’re pretty keen to see what Hyundai’s idea of a hot hatch actually entails – how about you?