It’s been a long wait but here it is folks... Hyundai has finally created a proper hot hatch to take on Golf GTI, Focus ST, Megane RS and enemies.

The new i30 N also happens to be the first Hyundai to wear the brand’s new ‘N’ badge (which, incidentally, symbolises a chicane) and which will in future designate its high-performance models just as RS does for Renault and so on.

But let’s get to the juicy stuff.

The i30 N is powered by Hyundai’s two-litre turbopetrol engine and will be offered in two flavours: hot (184kW) and extra hot (202kW). Both versions produce their peak power at 6000rpm and both boast the same maximum torque output of 353Nm between 1450 and 4000rpm.

Against the clock, the more powerful of the two will screech from zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds, according to Hyundai, with the lesser tuned variant taking 6.4s. Both reach a presumably nannied top speed of 250km/h.

Engaging the emotions

But it's not all about the numbers, insists Hyundai; there's a rev-matching 'blip' function for downshifts and (when fitted with the optional Performance Package) a valve in the dual exhaust system with a range of settings so you can give the i30 N a suitably authoritative voice when driving enthusiastically - as well eight percent extra torque for six to seven percent extra acceleration on overboost.

Power goes to the front wheels (which are either 18 inch with Michelin rubber or 19 inch wearing Pirelli P Zero footwear with the optional Performance Package) through a heavy-duty sports clutch and a six-speed manual gearbox. Hyundai’s performance division is clearly aiming at the more traditional enthusiast here as there is, at this stage at least, no mention of a dual-clutch gearbox option.

There are still plenty of modern features to play with however, including launch control, a lap timer, G-Force meter, adjustable damping and five driver-selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom), all set up and monitored on a standard 15cm or optional 20cm tablet-style 'floating' centre touchscreen.

Even the traditional analogue appearance of the electronic instrument cluster has been given a high-tech spin with a shift light at the top centre of the panel and red zone on the rev counter that varies according to the engine's oil temperature, so that you don't over-rev the engine when it's cold.

'Maximum track-day feeling'

Considerable effort has gone into the road holding side of the equation, with the i30 N practically having called the Nurburgring home during much of its development phase. A rear-suspension brace bar behind the rear seats is standard issue, and when fitted with the optional Performance Package it also comes with an electronic limited slip diff.

Cold-air ducts keep the front brakes cool under track-day conditions and an electronic stability package uses selective braking to keep the car pointed in the right direction during exuberant cornering - although you can switch it off completely 'for maximum race track feeling'.

On the left side of the special sports steering wheel, you can select from the three standard drive modes - Normal, Sport and Eco - while on the right are the rev-matching ('blip') button and the chequered flag N-mode button that enables you to personalise the settings, visible on the navigation screen, for the dampers, electronic stability control, limited-slip diff, steering, rev-matching and engine sound.

IOL Motoring

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