The 34-year-old returned to Formula 1 this year after his accident in 2011
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Hyundai i30N Performance — long-term review
“I adore hot hatches and this might be my current favourite.” Words I wrote in issue 309 when the i30N first arrived in the Top Gear Garage. It’s faced numerous hurdles during the 10 months it’s had to prove me right – a brand-new Renault Megane RS, my weep-inducing inner London commute, some literal mountains to climb on a huge 4,000-mile Eurotrip (issue 317) – but it’s swept aside each one with aplomb.
It feels made exactly to my dream spec: 6spd manual only, proper hugging sports seats and just enough power and grip to thrill, but not so much of either that it feels stifled or suffocated as a road car.
I’d go as far as to say it sits in the exact sweet spot of how much performance you can happily use nowadays, something the more senior Honda Civic Type R can’t claim. You can provoke a handful of lift-off oversteer without feeling like a liability, while its astoundingly immature sports exhaust laces even low-speed driving with a cacophony of crackles and bangs that could wake the dead. And make them chuckle.
Bad points? An insatiable thirst that makes 300 miles on a tank a genuine effort, the turning circle of an oil tanker and alloy wheels so large and exposed, more than one colleague has handed the key back to me with a red-faced apology.
These are hallmarks of a performance car that’s happy to trade off a bit of liveability in the name of outright fun, though, and ones you’re happy to forgive when it’s this flipping good to drive. Particularly if you consider it’s N division’s first effort.
There’s still loads of room and a five-year warranty, too, so it’s hardly like Hyundai’s made a trackday special that won’t slot into your daily routine. In fact, I don’t know mine will function without it. I adore hot hatches, and the i30N really is my current favourite.