What we know as the Elantra GT in the US will be the first consumer vehicle to be worked over by the N performance brand. I’m going to give you my personal thoughts on what may happen with this so called GTI/FoST fighter. Will this be the model that changes the phrase, “handles like a Hyundai,” to no longer be the cruelest thing you can say to an enthusiast? That’s pushing it a bit...

Here’s a quick sound bite of the 2.0T I4 engine powering the vehicle in all it’s crackling “I-wish-it-were-a-boxer”-ness.

First off, this is a European car. The i30 (Elantra GT) is a European vehicle, made for the European market, sold anywhere else rental fleets will buy it. Even though the Avante Sedan (Elantra Sedan) is all new, it doesn’t dictate the i30's development. So consider the vehicles as siblings instead of a sedan and a hatchback version of the same car. Don’t let the Elantra Sedan reviews throw you off.

I point this out because the i30 N is focused on being a great vehicle for Britain with an emphasis on great balance in order to take on those many miles of tight, winding, majestically archaic foot paths they call roads. That’s a great sign because Hyundai’s because issue is ride and handling, which is the most important aspect of British enthusiast driving. That and the ability to tell what time of day it is by the amount of water running off the boot lid when opened.

Here’s a video of Albert Biermann (formerly of BMW’s M Division, now with minimally altered polo shirts) discussing the N brand with Autocar.

Now that dyno run projected the vehicle at 260 hp @ 6000 rpm (1:41) and 276 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm (1:29). All kinds of ST in that b*tch, good signs! Biermann also states that the balance, compliance, and affordability will be what grabs shoppers. I think you should note that affordability is found in all the competition since the vehicles all start under $25,000. I think Biermann was refering to the value aspect. Regardless, it seems as if this will not be performing up to the Focus ST’s level of intensity. Nothing wrong with a great daily driver that has the durability to hit a track day though.

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Biermann also mentions a “performance pack” being made available for the people that want a harder edge (FoST shoppers). All of which sounds like this vehicle is geared towards attacking the GTI rather than the Focus ST. If you had hopes for a Civic Type-R coming from Hyundai you’re about a decade ahead of the brand my friend.

So, as a US consumer what can we expect from the Hyundai i30 N?

  • It will be released for the European market first with a huge push in the British market and depending on its reception the model will be tweaked accordingly before being made available in the US and “younger” markets.
  • You can expect it to run alongside the Elantra Sedan in name and hopefully allow that vehicle to feed off the i30 N’s good publicity. This won’t be a Veloster incident so don’t worry. Think more Kia Pro_Cee’d GT but with nearly 40 hp and 60 hp added to it.
  • Two transmissions will be available, namely a 6-speed manual. I would favor the chances of seeing a revised version of the in house 7-speed DCT over the new 8-speed automatic though. This will allow the i30 N to compare to the GTI.
  • Expect the i30 N to have a “detuned” version of that 2.0T GDI 4-cyl rated around 240 hp and 260 lb-ft to place it inline with the rest of the Hyundai lineup but also to offer that 260 hp output we saw dynoed connected to some type of “performance pack” equipped model.
  • The pricing will be the exact same as the GTI and FoST starting at $25,000. It will be the available power over the GTI as the value advantage, and the amenities and comfort (*cough* automatic *cough* seats *snort*) over the FoST for the same price.

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All together, it should have more power and features than the GTI, be more compliant and tech focused than the FoST, while being an enjoyable car but not unseating either of those rivals in any way. A solid bronze medalist with a people’s choice award nomination. The Performance Pack equipped model should be the version that hits directly in between being a GTI and a FoST and will be the setup that will win over journalists and garner recommendations. That model will likely cost around $28k. As for the weight and fuel economy, the i30 N needs to have a curb weight around 3,000 lbs and get over 31 on the highway, but don’t expect it to take first place in fuel economy or to be the lightweight choice. My only real questions:

What in the world will the i30 N be called in the US?

Why would you buy a 200 hp Elantra Sport for the same price as the i30 N?

All questions I’m wondering about myself. All I can say is that the Elantra Sport Sedan will be in between a Civic Si and a Ford Focus Titanium. I guess compact sedan shoppers and compact hatchback shoppers are all together different. Features and Tech vs Performance and Practicality. It’s a broad segment people.