The Golf GTI has dominated and set benchmarks for the hot hatch range as far as we can remember, but there’s a new kid on the block. The Hyundai i30N is set to shake the current status quo.

The Hyundai i30 series “N” range model brings both elegantly aggressive looks and ample amounts of performance. This model was developed in Namyang, South Korea, and perfected in Germany’s Nürburgring track, thus the origins of “N” series. The i30N’s sporty and distinctive-looking design is a real head-turner; the launch control will yank you into the seat and get you off the line quicker than most hot hatches currently available. It also comes with “N Corner Carving Differential” that will get you in and out of the corner while enjoying your morning coffee.

The Oomph

This particular “N” model is a six-speed manual, packing a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which produce 285 PS (281.1 BHP), which will get you from 0 to 100 in just under 6.1 seconds. It has a by design-limited top speed of up to 250 km/h, and it will return 7-litres per 100km. The standard version in Ireland comes packed with plenty of features such as rev-matching*, electronic controlled suspension*, electronic stability control* and more*. The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system enables you to take full control over the vehicle’s performance by adjusting settings on nearly all performance aspects.

Compared to its direct competitor, the Golf GTI packs 229 BHP (232.2 PS), does 0-100 in 6.5 seconds and will return approximately 5.3-litres per 100km. Just like the i30N, it hides a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the hood and comes with a six-speed manual, however, unlike i30N, they also offer an automatic transmission at a bigger price tag. Unlike the GTi, the N-series comes with five driving modes and allows you to customise them to fit your needs and your driving style to make your journey that much more enjoyable.

The Sound

Out of all the hot hatches in this line, the N-series has by far the most ear-pleasing twin exhaust sound, which pops, crackles, and bangs as if it’s the 4th of July.

Based on your preference, it can be as elegant as your auntie’s saloon or if you feel like waking up your neighbours or making a statement, you have an optional N-mode to get your point across. Here is the sample audio of how i30N sounds in an N-mode.

The GTi, on the other hand, neglected this feature and produces a somewhat artificial, damped and muffled exhaust sound, which is something you have to get used to. Click play to hear the audio sample.

The Looks & Feel


Looks can be deceiving, but not with the i30N performance model. The exterior of this car looks subtle but aggressive; it looks compact; however, it offers a lot of room for your passengers and provides you with plenty of space for your cargo. Hyundai did a great job balancing those features, considering it’s a hatchback. As standard, it comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, has great all-round visibility, 395-litre boot space and an eight-inch sat-nav touchscreen infotainment system.

The GTI’s exterior looks rather classy but is round, unadventurous, and lacking character compared to the i30N. The GTi offers higher quality interior materials and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, 380-litre boot space and an eight-inch glass touchscreen display. It has a long-established reputation as one of the best hot hatches since VW created the GTi Line in 1976; however, it was predestined for someone to come and take the spotlight, at least for now.

Whatever the N-series lacks in interior quality and looks, it compensates for in performance. The steering wheel and shift knob are made from premium materials since they’re the most frequently used interior parts, and the bucket seats that will hug you on each corner are premium quality materials, too. The Golf outshine the i30N in this regard: The GTi offers an overall higher interior quality. But the i30N comes with more useful car features that the standard i30 or Golf GTi models would not have.

Which one is for you?

Both hatches are amazing high performers. However, those of you who are brave enough to experience something new and who value performance, the Hyundai i30N would be an ideal choice for you. It’s affordable, more customisable, more exciting to drive than the VW Golf GTi and has more character. On the other hand, if you want classy and conventional looks, the Golf GTi would be your go-to car, which delivers good performance, higher quality interior and extra comfort over long journeys. Looks and feels are subjective, and it is entirely up to you to judge which one better reflect your personality.

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