In the realm of current hot hatchbacks the i30 N’s outputs almost seem undernourished, and with a reasonably hefty kerb weight they obviously won’t challenge some of the lighter, more powerful cars in the class – but nor are they remotely slow.
In 247bhp spec the i30 N will hit 62mph from rest in a scant 6.4sec, while the Performance knocks a further three-tenths off that (regardless of whether it's the hatch or Fastback). All will reach a limited 155mph, and having driven the car on sections of derestricted autobahn, we’re confident in saying it would be capable of more if uncorked.
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In our own performance testing, we recorded an i30 N Performance at 0-60mph (rather than 62mph) in 6.6sec, and 0-100mph in 14.9sec. Those numbers are respectively 0.1 and 0.3sec off a Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, and 0.6 and 1.1sec off the significantly lighter and similarly powerful Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport.
The Peugeot feels quicker on the road, too, but what neither of those rivals can match is the i30 N’s exhaust note, and the effect that has on your impression of speed. All Ns get electronic sound enhancement, but the Performance in particular has an active exhaust system that instantly makes it the best-sounding car in this class. It’s loud, raucous and perfectly judged to the car’s character, with pops and crackles thrown in for good measure (but, pleasingly, sounding far from synthesised, as they feel in several other cars).
The noise definitely enhances the average country road drive, and can be tailored to the Custom mode so you can switch it off when you want to fly under the radar. A firm, short-throw gearshift and good traction also both contribute to the entertainment factor of extending the N’s engine, while a reassuringly firm brake pedal pays dividends when it comes to shedding speed.