It’s no secret that aspiring carmakers benchmark the best of the best in a bid to move up. South Korean automaker Hyundai has hot hatchbacks in mind and therefore it was logical for their engineers to meet or surpass Volkswagen’s all-time champion, the Golf GTI.
Hyundai has created a separate performance division and its products are recognised with ‘N’ badging. In motorsports, especially World Rally Championship, the N sub-brand has made its presence felt with successes in the hands of drivers like Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville and several others inthose potent i20 Coupés.
Although the GTI faces currently faces competition from the likes of Seat’s Leon Cupra, recently introduced Honda Civic Type R and soon to arrive Renault Mégane Sport. Hyundai now thinks that it has got a winner in the i30 N which will go on sale soon. Although pre-sale hype has begun, it seems Volkswagen seems particularly watchful of Hyundai’s genuine attempt to translate its WRC success to the European wet B-roads, monotonous motorways and tight city streets with the i30 N.
A few weeks ago Hyundai released a statement related to the i30 N in which it said that that while it had no plans to break Nürburgring lap records which rivals mostly do, it was more focused on engineering its N hatchbacks as fun-to-drive cars. And the particular mention that its i30N would be more fun than the leader of the pack — the Volkswagen GTI has been observed by the Wolfsburg, Germany-based car manufacturer.
In fact, on paper, the i30 N’s specifications are more appealing than the GTI. With 275hp and 352Nm of torque on tap from the 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine when paired to a six-speed manual transmission, it is more powerful than the top-of-the-line 220hp GTI.
Volkswagen seems to be unfazed by the claims, but did offer a cautious statement: “Extraordinary claims are being made for supposed rivals that are not yet on sale. While any skunkworks can turn out a track day special, the expertise and experience required to engineer a GTI or an R – cars that also excel in the real world — is rather more hard won,” Michael Bartsch, Volkswagen’s managing director, told media. Seems, the German brand is a wee bit worried about this future GTI rival!