GTI, RS, ST, WRX â€“ four sets of initials that, while many might not know exactly what they stand for, every petrolhead knows what they mean â€“ speed. â€˜Nâ€™ might not immediately carry that same kudos, but it ought to.
The Hyundai i30 N is the first hot hatch from the Korean manufacturer and itâ€™s a real statement of intent.
N stands for Namyang, Hyundai Motorâ€™s global R&D Centre in Korea, where the idea was born, and for the NÃ¼rburgring, home to Hyundai Motorâ€™s European Test Centre, where the i30 N driving experience was honed and tested.
Hyundai i30 N PerformanceÂ
Engine: 2.0-litre-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph in 6.1 seconds, 279 lb-ft torque.
CO2 emissions: 163g/km
The performance arm is part of Hyundaiâ€™s drive to improve its brand appeal in Europe and N cars should showcase Hyundaiâ€™s engineering and put driving pleasure front and centre.
Itâ€™s a direct hit on all counts. I tested the i30 N Performance â€“ which squeezes 271bhp out of the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine â€“ and itâ€™s punchy and gutsy, delivering a real kick up the backside beyond 1,500rpm.
As a proper hot hatch should, it features a short-shifting six-speed manual transmission as opposed to a complex semi-auto set-up.
The noise from the exhaust is absolutely terrific, something made all the more satisfying when you consider the relatively subtle styling compared with more lairy-looking competitors such as the Focus RS or Civic Type R. Itâ€™s a noise that means this is a car that turns heads without visual styling that makes it look like you crashed into a Halfords warehouse.
The interior styling keeps the clean lines and uncluttered layout of the standard car and adds a layer of sportiness with â€˜Nâ€™ decals, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearstick, â€˜Nâ€™ graphics on the information systems and contrast stitching. As well as ticking all the performance boxes the styling pack lifts the quality of the interior considerably.
But itâ€™s the handling that is the star of the show. The car has been lowered by 8mm compared with the standard car and itâ€™s been fitted with adaptive dampers which keep bodyroll under control while leaving enough softness that the car still feels supple rather than unyielding.
The Performance variant we tested also adds a limited-slip differential which helps it turn tighter and faster while maintaining grip.
Weâ€™re spoiled for choice in the C-segment hot hatch arena and the i30N Performance parks in the middle ground between the â€˜everyday funâ€™ part of the segment and the uber-hatch. Itâ€™s up on power against the likes of the Golf GTI and Focus ST, but down compared with the Focus RS and hardcore Honda Civic Type R.
The most impressive thing is that in such illustrious company it doesnâ€™t look at all out of place, as a showcase of Hyundaiâ€™s engineering ability itâ€™s on the money and it ought to help add momentum to Hyundaiâ€™s drive to improve its brand appeal.
This hot hatch is a Hyundai with character.