The best Hyundai N sports cars, from the competition to the street: i20 vs i30, which is better?

The best Hyundai N sports cars, from the competition to the street: i20 vs i30, which is better?

Hyundai has a model or a specific generation that has been marking a before and after in the evolution of the brandand in the case of N versions there is not only one specific car that has achieved it, but also a whole nice story of overcomingchallenges, milestones… and of course, also specific dates: exactly, September 15, 2014, the moment in which the N sub-brand is officially presented with the intention of returning to the World Rally Championship with a potentially winning structure. That same year they made their debut first generations of i20 N in the premier class of the WRCuntil 2015 with a 5-door body and already in 2017 developing a new and more competitive car based on the Coupé body with which it would continue to race from that same year, already achieving a first victory in 2019 and two consecutive titles.

A complete success in competition that would be transferred to the series and for the general public with the primer i30 N which is launched on July 13, 2017, a model that once again contributed to seeing this brand with different eyes… Those of us who comb the occasional gray hair know what we are talking about, because many young people have already known Hyundai as the first sword among volume brands in Europe. The rest of the story… I’m sure you know it too.

Hyundai i20 N vs i30 N Performance
Hyundai i20 N vs i30 N Performance

The good reception of this first compact “GTi” led the brand to convert its competition i20 into a pocket sports car from 2020, coinciding more or less with the launch of the third generation of the i30 range in general and the second i30N in particular, already with small big evolutions as we are going to see in this article. And no, we did not forget the Veloster N that was developed for Asia-Pacific markets, nor for the His N Available in our market, as well as the N powered by electric or hydrogen propulsion technologies that the brand is already working on and whether we like it or not, will make up the offer of sports models from this and many other manufacturers in the future.

Meanwhile, too Sports cars have been falling in the two segments in which the i20 and i30 N compete, or those that have been left have increased exponentially in price, although if these two Hyundai N can boast of anything, it is to have carved out and won the recognition of the fine-tuned product that the brand has managed to put on the market. Today, we bring you this fratricidal duel with which enjoy talking about GTi’swithout more, but also try to see if the big fish clearly marks territory to dominate the small one.

Do not fool yourself…

Let’s start this analysis focused fundamentally on the mechanical and dynamic part. Although allow me if in addition to all this, I add a first-person opinion, starting with this small great detail. Do not fool yourself. And don’t be fooled. measure yourself Evaluate not only your budget at the time of purchase or looking in the long term for its consumption or maintenance —I am one of those who prefer to pay me a fuel deposit rather than a ticket to a theme park—, but for your level of driving experience, type of use that you are going to make of the car, and something that contributes nothing but is worth its weight in gold, the sensations that a car transmits when you drive iteven if it is to take a walk.

Hyundai i20 N vs i30 N Performance
Hyundai i20 N vs i30 N Performance

It is true that the i30 N is not the most radical car of its kind, but it can be delicate because what it is to run, it runs a lot. Don’t underestimate the i20 N either. for being smaller, less powerful and dealing in a theoretically lower category. If you are interested in them, study the thing with your head, and what has been said, think if, for example, you are ever going to ride in a circuit, if you travel, if you like to devour mountain roads on some occasion

And it is that, if the speed differential of these two N is negligible in a straight linewhen the time comes for the chassis under the baton of your fine hands to orchestrate the rhythm, the i30 N is clear that it makes a difference. And much, even more so if you drive well, you know what you’re doing and above all —and above all— you adjust well the “set-up” offered by the Performance versions when driving on the open road, because in Otherwise, it is possible that you constantly have an i20 N or similar sniffing your butt without having to hit the car like you would with the i30 N. We do not delve into it at all.

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The Hyundai i20 N, one of the best school cars of the moment

What starting and after having traveled a few kilometers it is quite clear is that the i30 N is not a Golf GTi, but a product much more oriented to the enjoyment of driving, not extremely critical, which it can be, but capable of putting you in your place when you try to explore all its limits… Actually, I admit that this is one of the best virtues. As soon as to the i20 N, it must be recognized that it is one of the best school cars of the momentalthough be careful with him because he is a car, also, very serious.

Hyundai i20N
Hyundai i20N

One of the great surprises of the i20 N is its engineI think that because we already have good references of him in other cars in the group with a less sporty approach, such as the Kia Ceed GT with the same 204 CV that the 1.6 T-GDI has —Gamma family—also here in the i20 N. However, there are two circumstances in it that make this engine seem simply different. A, propel the lightest car of how many use this propellant, 1,177 kg —without driver— of pure fiber where, by the way, all the necessary elements of safety and comfort are not lacking. And another, improvements that are holy water for a car like this. One of them is also extrapolated to the 2.0 T-GDi —Thema family— of the i30 N affecting the key element of its performance, supercharging, turbos that in both cases rotate up to 215,000 revolutions and have a continuous and intelligent mapping to adjust the overpressure and the discharge valve to each situation based on different parameters and conditions, achieving a theoretical response with the least possible lag.

And so it is in the small great engine of the smallest of these cars, whose mechanical rhythm also has the invaluable help of a system of continuous phase variators on both shafts, more resistant valves, injection pressure raised to 350 bars —220 bars on the two-liter, 20 more than before— and another type of details that require an engine in which you have to find the optimum point between reliability and performance. Despite the vague recollection of the previous i30 N powerplant, I also feel an improvement in explosiveness and quickness, but not from as low a rev as before. It may have influenced that the intake-oriented turbo shell has a greater volume now and requires more inertia to launch it, something that possibly explains why the maximum torque regime has increased. As there is also a lot of power up top, the range of use of both engines is truly wide.

Although One of the biggest novelties of this second i30 N is the new and very special eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox —it is, simply, a real pass—, we have preferred to unify the transmission in the two cars to individual six-speed manual boxes which have, in general terms, a quite correct operation due to their firmness or reliability in their interlocks. In both cases, they use reinforced clutches with housings of different sizes compared to the standard models, different self-blocking technology in each case although with a common gear development strategy: both have a second specific ratio with which one of the reference measurements is reached, 0-100 km before moving to third, a ratio, by the way, quite well adapted to mountain road to make a large part of the section playing only between these two relationships if you literally go on the attack. Obviously, the greater power of the 2.0-liter engine allows the use of a slightly more comfortable sixthalthough it does not compensate for the higher consumption of this engine when traveling from A to B in quiet mode, something that in the youngest of the N does allow you without having the feeling of wasting fuel since at a normal pace or even medium fast its consumption is quite restrained.

Hyundai i30N 17
Hyundai i30 N

The other distinctive element between them and at the same time key to ensure that these two cars can transfer power to the ground is their limited slip resistance.a mechanical Torsen made “ad hoc” by the manufacturer himself to the i20 N that interferes with the direction less than the one with electronically controlled slip discs used by the i30 N, something that could not only be explained by the technical difference of these elements but also by the different levels of their front axles, being quite aggressive in both, but without reaching to leave a hound-like nose, one of those that sniffs the asphalt when it is irregular in the transverse direction.

I think, anyway, that the i20 N can become more sensitive to this effect despite going less shod at the level of wheels, partly because it is a car with less projection to the ground, but by applying a more minimally proactive driving style you can take advantage of it by amplifying the throttle a little, looking for the torque transmitted to the outer wheel to cause some rotation in the car in slow turns, something that will get drivers who put all their faith in the front end out of a lot of trouble, in exchange, yes, for quickly snacking on the good work of the Pirelli P Zero. And it is that, If the i20 N has something, it is a sensational front end whose confidence is only timidly diluted by the information that the address can stealas in the larger N, with an electric motor directly attacking the rack… But what a game that also gives us the rear.

Hyundai i20N
Hyundai i20N

Placebo buffering

I’d bet that the i30 N’s self-locking transmits more parasitic movements to the steeringcloses the moor towards the vertex with more violence and is much more sensitive when applying the appropriate gas when looking for that same effect that I was talking about in the case of the i 20N, being able to generate an effect contrary to the one not desired already on the front axle, but on the whole of a car already in inertia that exchanges the masses in a clearly faster and more abrupt way… And here is the point at which I would like to pause before continuing to talk about the behavior of both cars, although not without adding that the limit of the front end of the i30 N is point and a half even above its blood brother.

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If you are one of those who think that cars as tables are more effective, you are wrong. That may be the case on the circuit – perhaps 1% of the use you give to your car? – but not for real life. If you want to know exactly the concept of damping firmness, submit to an i30 N Performance and set the N-Grin to N or N Custom mode with Sport+ damping, it’ll be clear to you. The good thing is that it is there for when it is appropriate ut use it The bad thing is that many of you want to use it to make curves, and yes, I admit that I am the first to do it and will continue to do so. Big mistake to go really fast… with the only satisfaction that it requires you to overdrive because you’re simply hitting the car continuously and unnecessarily. I think it is, as I told you, an exclusive circuit mode, or roads ready as mirrors, because otherwise you become a “sparring” shaken by the violence of its cushioning, continuous movements of the front end, rebound of the rear and in certain curves, even erratic behavior.

Sport is simply perfect, a setting that has its own global preset or that you can get in terms of damping also from N Custom leaving other parameters —exhaust noise, for example— in the way you want. And boy, how things change even if you lose part of the wild sensations that this car can provide you. Thus, the two N begin to look quite similar, although the i 30N is better balanced despite being much heavier., and proves to be at another level of real effectiveness and speed, in part, because the engine also marks distances. The exchanges of weights between the axles are, for example, somewhat faster, in such a way that you get extra pressure on the front axle sooner, the steering has ended up seeming more informative to me and although the car rounds out the turns in which you look for its engagement by hollowing out the throttle, though when you break his grip limit he reacts quite a bit more violently.

Hyundai i30N 29
Hyundai i30 N

Possibly the most negative point compared to the i20 N are the brakesand not because of resistance or braking distances —the truth is that he has achieved quite mediocre distances—, but because in front of to the firmer pedal touch of the smallest of the N, the touch of the i30 N seems too excessively spongy to me and assisted to be a car of this caliber.

For me, or at least for my driving style, the greatest virtue of the i20 N is its adaptability when driving it in many different ways, especially putting fun over pure effectiveness. I have not found the same good feeling of the direction of the i30 when beginning to register the car in the curve, but almost as much when having the car already supported, maintaining the gas or opening it, in this case, with even less contemplation.

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Due to its strict lightness, shorter wheelbase or width between tracks, the i20 N is truly an agile and reactive car., and more than it could be even if the rear shock absorbers were somewhat less soft in rebound, something that, I think, can be justified by the low weight supported by the rear end, with the intention of avoiding that at the slightest exchange of weights the rear insinuates itself more than it can do… because even so it is relatively easy to dislodge him by rocking the car before entering a curve or loosening the gas with the car resting, if you like to drive like that, or on the contrary, like We have mentioned before, rely on its excellent front end looking for a more neutral behavior. Although as a whole it is a car that is also firm and almost bordering on uncomfortable, I found it to be a friendlier car on a day-to-day basis than the i30 N for a varied drive in which a rigorous city or urbanizations flooded with reducers are not usually lacking. of speed that sacrifice to the extreme the quality of life aboard the largest of these cars.


Returning to the performance of its engines, taking some reference from certain similar rivals allows us to corroborate those first sensations that the Correvit data dump leaves you: behind the wheel, these cars give the impression of being faster than they really are… which are a lot, by the way. A Fiesta ST, for example, achieved better acceleration records. Also a Polo GTI with its automatic transmission, two cars that drop below 27 seconds in the 1,000 meters. For its part, a 245 CV Golf GTI, a 265 CV BMW 128 Ti or a 280 CV Ford Focus ST also slightly lower the i30 N Performance records, although in all cases it is tenths, but there they are.

Hyundai i20N
Hyundai i20N

As a curiosity, we see that the small N eats the big one in short acceleration, perhaps due to that greater lightness or the better performance of the launch system from a standstill Available in both cars and easy to use, by the way, although after various acceleration tests we managed to achieve a better time with this system disconnected. Of course, it is difficult to take the point to allow the wheels to slip in their proper measure without wasting more time than necessary. By the way, the two clutches have resisted all the “attacks” without giving the slightest headache, an element that is usually the weak point of standard Korean cars; As in almost any area, great job from Hyundai.

Also the sound of its engines is as exciting as its thrust, especially the two-liter configured with the Sport exhaust, although without it activated it can be as discreet as that of the 1.6 T-GDi at low speed, when we accelerate moderately or make reductions more calmly. Both engines have the Rev Matching function, a kind of automatic toe-heel when reducing that softens the gearbox lock, although beyond the exercise itself, we can appreciate that the larger engine is not only sharper to climb from laps from half a regime onwards, but also to drop the revolutions more quickly between one gear jump and another, something that becomes all the more evident the higher the regime to which we rush the gears.

Hyundai i30N 20
Hyundai i30N 20

Es, precisely the midrange which makes the 2.0 T-GDi allow the i30 N to start to take off clearly from its little brother: from there up it is much more voracious and energetic although its last thousand revolutions are not terrifying. But the truth is that due to the development of the transmission, the handling of the change and the operation of the engines in their medium and high range, the two cars make things very easy to keep them in their most active zone when driving them between curves. On a day-to-day basis, its very wide range of operation, clean and fine turning at low revs and immediate response to the accelerator will allow us to shift from medium and high gears to avoid too spontaneous a reaction that detracts from the pleasure of use, or to keep consumption levels low. stripe, although for this type of use the smaller displacement engine is much better suited for being smoother and clearly reasonably frugal for the potential it has even in urban use, where it even achieves more than moderate consumption.

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