Life with ‘our’ Hyundai i30 N longtermer hasn’t been all perfect. The infotainment system isn’t the best, the sound system is sub-par, and it’s generally just not as nice or refined inside as something like a VW Golf GTI.
But when it comes to driving fast, the i30 N well and truly beats the GTI into submission. And much of the competition, come to think of it - the chassis, aggressive steering and bespoke electronically-controlled differential all work together beautifully when you’re on it.
The way the i30 N drives is something I’ve never felt to be requiring improvement. I don’t think many people would drive one and immediately start thinking of changes to make, either. But that hasn’t stopped aftermarket companies bringing out a bunch of new parts for the car. A year on from its launch there are already quite a few options to choose from, but is it really worth modifying one of these things when the starting point is so good?
To find out, I drove our test car back-to-back with what on first glance looks like another stock i30 N. Look closely, though, and you’ll see it sits a little lower. 15mm lower, specifically, on Eibach springs. Around the back meanwhile, you might clock the new Remus cat-back exhaust system with its delicious carbon tailpipes.
The two final mods are tricky to spot even once you’ve popped the bonnet - there’s a foam Pipercross filter that fits in the standard airbox, and a Remus ‘Powerizer’ module which boosts the power from 271bhp to 309bhp, and the torque from 295lb ft to 312lb ft.
So far, so predictable, but the springs and the exhaust are a bit of a worry. The i30 N is already quite firm, and its standard pipework plenty vocal. Are these really areas you want to be fiddling with? It turns out, though, I had nothing to fear on either count.
Let’s start with the suspension. Yes, the ride with the adaptive dampers set to Sport+ is even less bearable than it was before, but that’s not much of an issue - I wouldn’t use that mode away from a race track with either stock or performance springs. In ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ modes meanwhile, there’s precious little change in comfort.
It’s hard to detect any obvious change in composure either - a stock i30 N isn’t exactly a car that rolls all that much. Where there is a subtle but certainly noticeable improvement is the turn-in, which is slightly sharper. There’s a little more life in the steering than before, too.
With the tauter setup, you can occasionally feel the very beginnings of lift-off oversteer. And that’s not something I’ve ever experienced in a standard N.
As for the cat-back exhaust, you don’t have to worry about it droning away and driving you mad on long motorway journeys, as it incorporates the standard electronically-controlled valve. In other words, you can shut it up whenever you’re not in the mood.
It also doesn’t result in a dramatic change in volume - it’s more about offering a deeper sound, accompanied by the same delightfully silly pops and bangs as the factory system. The biggest improvement in sound quality is with the valve shut - a normal i30 N just sounds a bit weedy and unrefined at low engine speeds in that setting, but the Remus pipes give a more satisfying, bassy rumble.
The boost in power and torque doesn’t vastly alter straight-line performance (sensing a theme, here?), but we’ll always take a bit of extra go if it’s on offer. With it, the i30 N has more of a tendency for axle tramp off the line in both first and second, and it is much easier to reach the limits of traction mid-corner. This modified N is much closer to the limits of what the chassis and the differential can do, but it’s a pleasing feeling knowing you’re really making the most of what Hyundai’s engineers have made.
Unlike a lot of newer modified cars I’ve driven, this tweaked i30 N almost feels like an official effort. If Hyundai created a performance pack for the car, I could imagine it shaping up like this. I’ve no idea what they’d call it considering it’d be for a car already called i30 N Performance, but that’s besides the point…
That’s the benefit of opting for subtlety when it comes to modifying an already good car - you’re more likely to enhance it rather than ruin it. You could put any or all of these bits on an i30 N, and you’ll end up with a better car. Whether or not you should depends on the usual arguments against mods for a new car - potential warranty implications, and cost.
In total, everything on the car you see here comes to over £2200, not including fitting. A big bulk of that is the Remus exhaust, which weighs in around £1400, but pleasingly, the Eibach springs - my pick of the parts - are a more reasonable £240.
If you’re going to opt for just one change, it should probably be that. Now if we could just talk about options for that sound system…