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He is already in front of us - a new athlete among the so-called hot hatches. The first laps of the track ...

In fact, the intention of the South Korean company to release such a model does not date back to yesterday. And this is easily explained - models such as the VW Golf GTI, Renault Megane RS и Honda Civic Type Rs bring their owners not only real driving pleasure, but also a significant share of the image of the companies that produce them.

Finally before Hyundai i30 N green light came on - in the truest sense of the word, because we are on the Vallelunga circuit near Rome. The model clashes with its famous opponents with a minimum of 250 horsepower under the hood. Or as much as 275 hp, as in the Performance variant, which, in addition to the basic version, also has a mechanical front differential lock.

Show time! A sports exhaust system with additional valves creates the necessary dose of drama even before we leave. In addition, the car has standard adaptive dampers, an automatic intermediate throttle function (Rev Matching, activated by pressing a button) and an electromechanical power steering, the electric motor of which is not located above the steering column, as in the standard i30, but is mounted on the steering rack itself, which should feel itself better than the steering wheel.

This is still in theory. It's time to test how this car behaves in real life. Before doing this, however, it is a good idea to take a close look at the various personalization options. There are three main modes, as well as an additional custom mode that changes the settings for the shock absorbers, steering, exhaust, ESP, engine, Rev Matching, and possibly the power windows. The latter is, of course, a joke, but the fact is that the set of settings is surprisingly rich.

The two-liter unit already at idle rattles menacingly and clearly seeks to attack an empty track. Therefore: full throttle! Despite the fact that the four-cylinder engine is equipped with a conventional single-jet turbocharger, it responds quite spontaneously to gas and develops a maximum torque of 353 Nm at rather low revs.

According to the technical description, this happens at 1750 rpm, but in fact, a subjective feeling suggests that the thrust somewhere noticeably increases when overcoming the 2000 rpm limit. The Theta series engine revs up eagerly and easily hits just over 6000 rpm when two red warning lights remind us it's time to shift into second gear.

The lever moves easily to the next position on the gear scale, but the real news is that it's done in the good old classic way with the gear lever and the left clutch foot. Yes, the elders of you will remember what we are talking about ...

The I30 N is a great entertainment tool, where the fun is chasing the perfect turn line and the right moment to stop and dump the throttle, rather than dig into the depths of some digital world.

Gas to the floor!

ESP can be turned off completely and the possibilities in search of ideal trajectories are truly impressive. Thanks to the precise steering, the pilot gets very good feedback on what is happening between the 19-inch wheels and the asphalt, and the engagement of the differential lock is clearly felt and allows the 1,5-ton Hyundai to move in the right direction by accelerating at the peak of the corner.

We're in next gear, the i30 N snorting furiously through the twin tailpipes as if trying to ward off pursuers. And because it was about sound: it's impressive, metallic, with a completely authentic four-cylinder tone.

Without unnecessary attempts at flirting in the style of "I really would like to be someone else, and not who I am," but without platitudes. Wonderful! This, incidentally, fully applies to the sensations behind the wheel. The seats provide solid lateral body protection as well as adjustable thigh support, and the range of adjustment is quite wide. Only the position itself is slightly overestimated, typical for a compact class.

It is pleasantly impressive that when the load changes abruptly, the rear of the car slightly peeks in, which greatly helps to direct the i30 N on the right trajectory in time. ESP's sport mode allows for such flirting without leading to dangerous situations.

From track to civilian roads

This sense of security is actually critical when a person leaves the closed route and onto open roads. Here the suspension adjustments have proven to be very successful - yes, some competitors ride smoother, but on the other hand, they feel more synthetic to handle.

In addition, the i30 N's hardness is by no means excessive, in other words, the bumps do not hit you directly in the spine. Especially if you are driving normally, the comfort is quite satisfactory.

The I30 N is presented by Hyundai as a hugely successful hit - and has a lot to offer against its brightest contenders.

Conclusion

Hyundai is well aware that strong positions in this segment have long belonged to other players. However, their debut is really impressive. The I30 N is very fast, has excellent handling, good traction and strong grip.

The combination of a compact body, high torque turbocharged engine, manual transmission and noticeably tight suspension adjustments make it an extremely interesting vehicle for driving pleasure.

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