Published On: 15 Mar 2022Categories: Reviews

Some cars are built to be practical, some to be economical and then there are the cars that are just built to be FUN. The N range from Hyundai very definitely falls into the last category.

The ‘N’ actually stands for Namyang, the Hyundai R & D Division in Korea. It also stands for Nurbergring, the famous track in Germany where the cars are tested and honed. And to top it off the WRC (World Rally Championship) is where they’ve been proven.

With this pedigree behind them, the latest i30N hatch and new Kona N Crossover/ Suv’s have arrived in SA. To prove the fun factor do a search and find the button on the steering wheel with the legend “NGS”.

In some languages, this is a form of overboost button. In Hyundai speak it translates as ‘N division Grin System’ and BOY does it work. One prod provides instant overboost and rocket acceleration for 20 seconds with a bright red countdown in front of the driver. I used the NGS button on the road section for overtaking and it is instantaneous and it does honestly does induce a manic grin and cackle from the driver.

That said, the new cars are not one trick ponies though. The 2L turbo engine blasts out 206kW and 392Nm to the front wheels through an 8 speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It has the obvious Eco, normal and sport modes, accessed by blue buttons at the bottom left of the steering wheel. Another similar button at bottom right goes straight to N mode. BUT….this mode can be fully customised: Engine, gearshifts, exhaust, suspension and more can be set to the drivers choice of combinations with 3 levels available for each. Happily there are also 3 memory settings for the owner to save his preferences.

The launch activity included both track and road sessions. For the track there is a special setting for the gearbox where it is optimised electronically and you can get on with keeping the car on track and setting the fastest lap times. The electronic limited slip diff and various other suspension and handling tweaks ensure that when on track you’re in total control.

Naturally, the i30 is more suited to the track than the Kona with it’s lower body and ride height but still the Kona surprised to the good. Out on the road, with most settings at the highest and suspension on its softest setting, cruising is easy and smooth. In this mode, the gearbox shifts seamlessly and smoothly yet progress is still swifter than many cars over Franschhoek Pass.

Both versions also add many luxury and safety items to the mix. Lane keep assist gently pulls the car back into line when needed. The Kona has active cruise control whereas the i30N has normal cruise control. Of interest the Kona N is also fitted with a heads-up display.

At the end of the day, the i30 is definitely the more focused performance monster with the Kona being more comfort and family orientated vehicle, but still boasting the same manic prowess if the mood captures you.

Both versions are currently priced at R749 900 including a 5 year/ 75 000km service plan and 7 year/ 200 000km warranty.

Alan Rosenmeyer


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