– By Marc Sibbald –
I was talking to Rob Carney from Hyundai at the AfMA Conference about all things fleet. Someone joined us and mentioned the new i30 N. Not really a fleet model but a car that has everyone talking about Hyundai.
So a week later I sheepishly sent Rob a text asking if I could organise a playdate with the i30 N. When he didn’t respond on the same day I thought I had gone to far; like asking a mate if you could date his sister. In this modern world the lack of an instant reply often means NO. So I felt embarrassed for wanting to indulge in a guilty pleasure.
But desire was playing with my mind – Rob was just busy. And within a few days of sending my text I was ogling the i30 N that was going to be mine for a week. I was hypnotised by the exhaust note. A sweet sound, like an orchestra. Like a school boy on his first date I climbed sheepishly into the driver’s seat. The heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty.
First gear, slowly at first. Then second. I tapped the N button on the steering wheel. Giddy up!
Earlier that morning I was trying to explain this car to my daughter and found myself welling up with emotion; almost in tears with excitement. She didn’t get it. Later that night I took my nine year old son for a drive – the minute I pressed the start button he cocked his head to hear the exhaust, and the smile just got bigger. He has now been baptised into the world of hot hatches.
Each day my emotional attachment to this car increased. I though the manual gearbox would put me off but the flexibility of the engine at all speeds means changing gears is optional for the daily commute. I started taking the long route everywhere I went and running errands for everyone in the FAN office.
Driving on the M2 in Sydney I tested the Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) feature. The car steered itself through the Lane Cover tunnel all the way to Windsor road. While I had my hands on the wheel for safety reasons I was monitoring the tyre pressures on the dash and getting navigation guidance at a reasonable volume because you can set it a different level to the radio and other warning chimes.
Over the weekend my wife accused me of MLC (Mid Life Crisis) syndrome. She was uncomfortable with the looks the car was attracting from the exhaust crackle and blips from the rev matching system when I downshifted (which was every chance I got). So I pressed the Drive Mode button on the steering wheel and the beast was tamed back into Eco mode. This gave it a normal exhaust note, comfortable ride and not as many looks from young men wondering if its as good as a Golf GTi (its better I said with a nod and a smile).
When the weather changed to winter on 1st June the heated seats and steering wheel became ‘must have’ accessories. The seat and wheel adjusted to any position I attempted. And when you open the door the electric driver’s seat slides back to give you more room to exit. The adaptive headlights let me see around corners at night which is unnerving at first but very handy. These are the little luxuries I missed when I returned to my daily drive.
We will publish more, less emotional, reviews on this car because everyone wanted an excuse to drive it. And if you get a chance – take it!