The Swedish town of Arjeplog is a small settlement in the Lapland province, home to a small population that swells each winter when the world’s top automakers descend to test their latest inventions. Among the brands battling the ice and snow in Arjeplog this past winter was Hyundai, testing the latest addition to its i30 range, though you might be puzzled when you learn that Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC driver, was behind the wheel.
This Hyundai, however, is a little different. Having shed its cheap and cheerless image from the eighties, and gained a reputation for quality and often good-looking cars, Hyundai is making the jump into the high performance arena with the i30 N, a hot hatch it hopes will live up to the standards set by the likes of the Honda Civic or the Focus RS.
Though it’s still at the development stage, Hyundai has said that the new model will be launched in Europe in the second part of 2017. “So many people have been looking forward to this car, so it’s a pleasure for me to be testing it,” said Neuville, who took the hot hatch for a spin on a frozen lake as part of the winter testing programme. “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.”
Little information has been released thus far apart from the model name. For those of you wondering where the N comes from – it doesn’t stand for Nippy or Nürburgring – it’s supposed to represent a chicane and the N’s ability to provide a driving experience that’s both agile and enjoyable. Time will tell.
To see the i30 N in action on the ice, check out Hyundai’s teaser video: