Hyundai i30 N hot hatch to race in Nurburgring 24 Hours

First N-badged Hyundai performance model is competing at the ‘Ring before it goes on sale this autumn for less than £30,000

The Hyundai i30 N will race at the Nürburgring 24 Hours (N24) this May as part of its pre-production development programme.

Two stripped-out, near production specification models will take part in the daylong event, which sees everything from GT3-spec cars to modified road models share the asphalt.

Engineers will use the running to hone the setup of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST rival before the road version’s anticipated launch at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Like the racers, the road going i30 N will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission is likely to be offered from 2018.

Power output is yet to be confirmed, but around 260bhp is expected for the road model.

Albert Biermann, head of vehicle test and high-performance development at Hyundai, said of the N24 entries: “We want our high-performance brand to have a considerable racing pedigree, so it is important that we compete with minimal modifications. Nürburgring is where the i30 N has undergone much of its testing and chassis development.”

Prior to its N24 entry, Hyundai has run i30 Ns in the preceding VLN races – as shown in the pictures. The brand has also been running a development car around the circuit, operating out of its own 3600 square metre facility, called the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre.

Hyundai World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Thierry Neuville also drove the car in Sweden (see below) and offered his own input to setup. In the associated video below, the i30 N’s gruff exhaust note can be heard as Neuville demonstrates the capability of the front-wheel-drive car’s electronic limited-slip differential.

Hyundai boss Albert Biermann has hinted that the i30N could have a top speed of around 155mph. He also said a four-wheel-drive version could follow later on, suggesting a rival to the Ford Focus RS is being considered. This was backed up by the unveiling of the 375bhp RN30 concept.

The i30N will also be available with a track-focused performance package which will further boost engine performance.

“Our car will be affordable,” said Biermann, who in 2014 left his job as vice president of engineering at BMW’s M performance car division to oversee Hyundai’s new N division. The car is expected to be priced at less than £30,000, with Hyundai stressing N division’s focus will be on “affordable performance”.

Biermann also confirmed that Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury standalone sister brand, will get high-performance variants of its models, and suggested it would be available in the UK.

“We will go into different markets and regions with N,” Biermann said. “We will also develop high-performance cars for the Genesis brand but they won’t have the N badge. N is just the sub-label for Hyundai cars.”

Hyundai launched its third and final version of the Ioniq earlier this year. The car is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric car, and Biermann hinted that hybrid powertrains would play a part in N’s future.

“We have everything available,” he said. “It’s too early now [for hybrid powertrains in N cars], but the time will come soon, definitely.”

A development version of the i30N raced in the 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race to test components that will eventually make it onto the production car. That car was badged as a Hyundai i30 2.0T, and built for Hyundai by the motorsport department of German-based Hyundai dealership Schumann. It’s pictured below.

Compared with a standard i30, around 40% of this i30 Turbo model was new. The engine was newly developed and the car used enhanced suspension, dampers, in addition to upgrades such as different wheels, tweaked steering, wider bumpers and mandatory motorsport safety features.

The car’s engine produced 259bhp and 227lb ft at 6000rpm, suggesting the final road car could offer similar performance.

Hyundai has been working on the development of performance models since 2013, when it first launched the ‘N’ brand as part of its World Rally Championship assault. The company has a 3600m2 test facility at the Nürburgring.

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