An N-thusiast N-gagement

I feel like Hyundai is doing great things these days. Over the past 10-15 years the Australian consumer market has had a proverbial hard-on for European cars, with VAG taking the top step across most categories. And for what reason? They hold a stigma for being expensive to maintain, difficult to work on, and oftentimes unreliable. I would know, because I own one. Take it back to the beginning though, and in Australia at least, there was little competition against European manufacturers for comfort, features and style despite the cost markup. In recent years, however, many brands have been stepping up their game and Korean manufacturers have been at the forefront. Hot hatches have seen a surge in popularity worldwide – even though they’ve been a mainstay in European car culture for decades – and Hyundai is one of the first non-European brands to get in on the hype. They’ve completely turned around their brand image as a result, and I’m willing to bet that within the next 10-15 years, Korean cars will be the ones to get.

 

I remember the spark which started my love affair with Hyundai’s i30N when I watched my first video of it a few years ago, and my first thought was “This sounds perfect.” But it was wrong place at the wrong time for me, as I was already on the hunt for a new car and Hyundai’s wouldn’t release in time for it to be worth the wait – almost 2 years. I’d eventually decide on a Volkswagen, but there was always the niggle in my mind about the prospect of owning an i30N. Financial acuity has gotten the better of me since, but with a friend of mine recently acquiring the keys to one the pain has numbed a little.

 

Even so, I can’t continue to ignore Hyundai’s approach in making performance so accessible to the masses. Track insurance as part of the driveaway price is unheard of in this segment, and the i30N’s boot space is also wide enough for a complete set of track rubber! Talk about clear design motives. As a complement to this, the N Performance division of Hyundai recently held a track day event at Wakefield Park (about 2 hours south of Sydney) catered to its owners, and all completely free of charge. Yes, a free track day for i30N owners. How could you say no? I didn’t, and I don’t even have one.