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Hyundai's performance division, N, is due to launch the long-awaited hot version of the i30 later this year. As part of the development process the car is currently carrying out winter testing, and is being piloted by Belgian hotshoe Thierry Neuville (driver for Hyundai's World Rally Championship team) amongst others. The i30 N will be Hyundai's first true high-performance car, and the Korean brand is aiming it squarely at the enthusiast sect of the buying public.
Neuville commented: "The engineers have done a great job on the gearbox and the differential. There is good traction and good stability in the slippery testing conditions, and it's very easy to handle. A normal driver should get a sensation similar to that of a racing car".
Not a bad first impression then, although as usual the real litmus test for the car will be on sealed surfaces. We already know that ex-BMW Motorsport man Albert Biermann is involved, and a quick glance at his past efforts shows that there's a good chance that the i30 N will be a real contender. A power figure of over 260hp can be expected from the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which will transmit drive through a manual transmission equipped with an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential.
The video below suggests a fruity exhaust note, although Hyundai has been extremely liberal with the camo disguise. The technical details released so far indicate that the car will be well-placed within the front-wheel drive hot hatch segment, so here's hoping that the driving experience and price will deliver the goods.