THERE’S BEEN a lot of chat about warranties in the automotive media recently. Not the sexiest topic, but a very important one for peace of mind when buying a new car. So far in 2018, Holden, Ford, Mazda, Citroen and Peugeot have joined Skoda, Honda and Hyundai in offering a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, though Tesla (eight years/unlimited km) leads the way, with Kia (seven years/ unlimited km) and MG (six years/ unlimited km) securing the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Hyundai caused a further stir with the release of the i30 N by announcing it would extend its warranty to cover track use. Such a stance isn’ unprecedented: like Hyundai, a number of manufacturers offer track coverage on certain models, though no one else has been as keen to publicise it.
The warranty covers “noncompetitive” use, so your weekend track day is fine, the hillclimb we competed in last month is not. However, this only applies to components directly affected by that use. Had I broken first gear on the start line of that hillclimb, tough luck, but had the headlights stopped working then that has nothing to do with a competitive environment. Hyundai goes one step further by covering the use of non-standard rubber. Bolt on a set of R-spec tyres for your track day and despite the higher stresses involved, Hyundai is confident its first hot hatch will take the punishment.
We’ be doing just that next month, but first let’ examine the i30 N’ circuit prowess in stock form. While my’ i30 N has only seen track action once at Sandown (and technically Haunted Hills) I’ ve also driven the standard car at Winton during this year’ Bang For Your Bucks and at The Bend Motorsport Park during recently completed Performance Car of the Year testing, so plenty of laps on different track layouts and surfaces.
Once beyond pit lane you notice the i30’ lack of top-end grunt far more acutely than on the road. As mentioned before, the turbo runs out of puff at higher revs, its size chosen for response and mid-range torque rather than outright grunt. It’ not at all a bad choice, for it works perfectly on the road and has its advantages on track, too, allowing third to be used out of tight corners to maximise traction without sacrificing acceleration.
Nonetheless, it’ usually better to pluck the next gear by 6000rpm rather than stretch to the 6500rpm redline or beyond. Oh, and if you are in third, remember to give the throttle a big blip down to second as there’ a large gap between the two ratios.
On cold tyres the i30 is a very keen oversteerer, but the balance quickly improves with temperature. It’ not especially adjustable unless you’ re really provoking it, particularly with the firmer damper modes quelling body roll, but don’ confuse the lack of movement as a lack of entertainment. It’ easy to punt quickly and accurately, yet rewards good driving. Thus far I’ ve enjoyed it most on the faster sweepers of The Bend. It was effective at Sandown, but lacks the outright power to make the most of the layout. Winton’ long corners don’ do powerful front-drivers any favours. Those with patience may disagree.
You’ think the obvious suspension setting on track would be Sport Plus, but that’ not necessarily the case. Even at The Bend, which is smoother than a James Bond pickup line, putting the dampers in their stiffest setting had the i30 bouncing, while down Sandown’ bumpy main straight it felt like the wheels were hopping clear off the deck. And that’ before you try and cross the kerbs. If you’ re hitting the track in your i30 N (or any other car for that matter), don’ automatically assume stiffest is best (stop sniggering…).
Hyundai claims to have completed over 100 laps on the same set of tyres at Wakefield Park, but either it has a very gentle test driver or Wakefield is particularly gentle on rubber. Sandown, it seems, is particularly brutal. The i30’ bespoke compound Pirelli P Zeros certainly held up better than the Continental SportContact6s on Dylan’ Civic Type R, but two sessions resulted in significant enough wear to necessitate a front-to-back tyre swap, which isn’ the work of a moment with only a standard scissor jack.
At Winton the i30 N displayed a weird vibration at the limit; instead of progressing further into understeer the tyres would begin to gently shudder as they scrubbed across the surface. It displayed the same behaviour at The Bend, which Rick Kelly – someone who knows a hell of a lot more about tyres than I do – suspected was due to a fairly hard tyre compound. This would make sense if Hyundai has asked Pirelli to engineer in some extra track durability. As mentioned, next month it’ time for some sticky rubber.
1. Track durability
2. Front-end grip
3. Warranty cover
1. Changing wheels
2. Tyre vibration
3. Not much else