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Car and Driver: First Hyundai N Model To Be Euro-focused Hot Hatch

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HyundaiN

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It’s more than two years since we first told you about Hyundai’s plans to introduce a range of N-badged performance models, and now we’ve learned that the first one is set to hit the market next year, with a tuned version of the next-generation i30 hatchback.

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While the i30N is primarily aimed at Europe, N Division’s boss, Albert Biermann, assures us that two other N-badged models will be introduced shortly afterwards, with at least one of these having broader appeal to the U.S.

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Although we’ve only seen a prototype version of the i30N, and weren’t allowed to take detailed photographs of it, Hyundai entered a prototype fitted with the production car’s powertrain into last weekend’s Nurburgring 24 Hours race (above).

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It uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox and an electronically controlled limited slip differential that Hyundai engineered itself. We’ve not been given any official power output, but we were shown a video of the new engine being dyno tested which showed numbers peaking at 264PS (260 hp) which we’re betting will be the minimum output. Biermann, who was formerly the head of development for BMW’s Motorsport Division, says he doesn’t want the i30N to be targeting performance numbers or lap times, rather the driving experience.

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“It is not just about the output,” he said, “if you look at the data our car will not look like the winner [compared to rivals], but when you drive it you will feel how serious we are.”

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The i30N also gets new suspension, a higher-capacity cooling system, and structural reinforcement to increase the rigidity of the bodyshell. Biermann indicated that it’s likely to be sold in both standard and “plus” form, with the more expensive version bringing a limited-slip differential, bigger brakes, and possibly also an increase in power. All versions are likely to have switchable active dampers, with Biermann emphasizing that he wants to build a car with what he called “maximum bandwidth.”

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Although a manual gearbox will be standard Biermann also confirmed that Hyundai is developing what he described as a “sporty automatic,” which is almost certainly a dual-clutch gearbox that will be launched shortly after the car goes on sale.

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While it’s unlikely that the i30N will be sold in the U.S. it is still relevant to us, with the same mechanical package expected to underpin the two other N models that Hyundai will unveil slightly later, which we believe will be a sedan and a coupe.

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