Posts

Hyundai i30 Fastback N review: life and Seoul of the party

I recently completed my first ever lap of the Nürburgring. Bearing in mind the record for Germany’s infamous 14.2-mile circuit – held by Timo Bernhard in a Porsche 919 Hybrid – is 5min 19.5sec, my time of 22 minutes looks somewhat slothful. In my defence, I was aboard a 60-seat coach. And I wasn’t driving.

The occasion was the Nürburgring 24 Hours race, which this year was held on the weekend after Le Mans. Both events last 24 hours and both attract top-level drivers, yet they could hardly feel more different. At La Sarthe, the campsites are stuffed with supercars. At the ’Ring, modified Golf GTIs blast out migraine Euro-techno. With 155 cars on-track, from Renault Clios to Porsche 911 GT3s, the racing at N24 is pretty anarchic, too.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

My tour of the track starts at Hyundai’s European Test Centre, located off the long straight at Döttinger Höhe. Here is where the Koreans decamped to develop the i30N hot hatchback, with former BMW M boss Albert Biermann leading the project. The next 22 minutes bring home what an exciting and frightening circuit this is: a non-stop rollercoaster with every conceivable type of corner. Rounding the right-hander at Bergwerk, where Niki Lauda crashed in 1976, seems poignant so soon after his death, but the banked Caracciola-Karussell is vividly special – even aboard a bus. No wonder the i30N feels so focused.

Now there is a new version of the i30N and it’s, well, slightly softer. The £29,995 Fastback N has sleeker rear bodywork, tweaked suspension and a £500 price hike over the hot hatch. However, while the latter is offered in 250hp and 275hp outputs, this car only comes in full-fat N Performance spec. Aside from the meatier 2.0-litre turbo engine, that means 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, sat nav, keyless entry, cruise control and electric heated seats. A stripped-out track tearaway this ain’t.

You wouldn’t call the Fastback pretty, but a squat stance, red go-faster stripes and a ducktail spoiler give it plenty of presence. It’s still a hatchback, too, with a bigger boot than the standard i30N – albeit less rear headroom. The touchscreen media system is intuitive to use, while a BMW M-style dynamic redline on the rev counter is an exotic touch. Elsewhere, plush leather and Alcantara (man-made suede) brush up against some conspicuously budget plastics.

All the work done by those serious folk in branded fleeces pays dividends on British B-roads, where the i30N serves up life-affirming fun. Its engine is raspy and eager, its steering weighty and tactile, its damping taut and unfiltered. You sense the electronic limited-slip diff biting into bends, while the rear can even be coaxed into oversteer if you’re keen. A rev-matching function on the manual gearbox (a twin-clutch auto arrives soon) makes you feel like a race driver, too.

This is a car that rolls up its sleeves and gives 100 percent, whether on the Nürburgring or the North Circular. Frankly, in maximum-attack N mode (selected via the chequered flag button) the Fastback is a bit too firm and feisty; the half-way house Sport setting is a better compromise. It’s less refined than some rivals, but that gung-ho character is a key part of its appeal.

The i30N is a formidable effort from Hyundai’s fledgling N division and the new Fastback offers something different – and dare I say more exotic – in this crowded class. While the standard i30 is as exciting as watching a kettle boil, the tenacious and vivid N makes every drive feel a bit special. It will be fascinating to see what Albert Biermann does next.

Price: £29,995

0-62mph: 6.1sec

Top speed: 155mph

CO2 G/KM: 178

MPG combined: 36.0

Hyundai i30 Fastback N: more pictures

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hyundai to reveal hydrogen fuel cell truck

Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell truck concept

Hyundai has released the first images of its new hydrogen fuel cell electric (FCEV) truck concept.

Called the HDC-6 Neptune, the FCEV commercial truck will make its debut at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta, Georgia.

Named after the Roman god of freshwater and the sea, the HDC-6 Neptune draws inspiration from the streamliner Art Deco high-speed trains of the 1930s and 1940s.

“We have cemented the fuel cell technology leadership position in the passenger vehicle sector with the world’s first commercially produced fuel cell EV and the second generation fuel cell EV, the Nexo,” said Edward Lee, head of commercial vehicle business division at Hyundai.

“With the introduction of HDC-6 Neptune, in addition to the road proven Xcient fuel cell truck, we expand our technology leadership into the commercial vehicle sector by unveiling our vision of how fuel cell electric trucks can resolve the environmental equations of widely used commercial vehicles and our commitment to create a decarbonised society.”

Hyundai HDC-6 Neptune

Earlier this month, Hyundai filed a trademark application for the Neptune name with Australian authorities. It references ‘hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in the nature of hydrogen fuelled cars’ in the description, while referencing ‘automobiles’ and ‘electrically powered trucks’.

This would suggest that Hyundai is throwing further weight behind a range of passenger and commercial fuel cell vehicles, possibly using Neptune as a sub-brand to distance hydrogen from electric.

Hyundai isn’t giving too much away ahead of the CV show on 29 October, but says the HDC-6 Neptune features advanced in-cab technology and unique construction.

The company will also debut an eco-friendly refrigerated trailer solution under its Translead banner. The company built 70,000 trailers in 2018, making it the market leader in the United States.

The North American Commercial Vehicle Show takes place at the Georgia World Congress Centre in Atlanta from 29 October 2019.

 

New smart cruise control will learn your driving habits

Hyundai smart cruise control

Hyundai has developed a smart cruise control system that learns the style and behaviour of a driver. In theory, this should create a more human-like self-driving experience.

The world-first AI-based Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) is likely to find its way into future Hyundai vehicles.

Smart (or adaptive) cruise control, which is found on an increasing number of new cars, maintains a safe distance from the vehicle ahead while travelling at a speed selected by the driver.

Hyundai’s technology combines AI and smart cruise control into a system that learns the driver’s patterns and habits. The next-generation smart cruise control drives “in an identical pattern to that of the driver”, Hyundai says.

Driving pattern is categorised into three parts: distance from vehicles ahead, acceleration and responsiveness. Hyundai’s tech also considers driving conditions and speed of travel.

Sensors take information from the camera and radar and send it to a centralised computer, which identifies the driver’s driving pattern. 

Smart cruise control

Adaptive cruise control systems tend to allow drivers to select a desired distance to the car in front. Hyundai’s system will adjust the distance to suit the speed an environment. In other words, the distance at motorway speeds will be larger than in traffic.

Similarly, Hyundai’s system should accelerate with more vigour on a motorway than in the city, where a more progressive approach is required.

The driving pattern is regularly updated with sensors, reflecting the driver’s latest driving style. Crucially, Hyundai’s system is programmed to avoid learning unsafe driving patterns to maintain safety.

Woongjun Jang, Hyundai Motor Group vice president, said: “The new [smart cruise control] improves upon the intelligence of the previous ADAS technology to dramatically improve the practicality of semi-autonomous features.

“Hyundai Motor Group will continue the development efforts on innovative AI technologies to lead the industry in the field of autonomous driving.”

Hyundai recruits boss of flying cars

Hyundai recruits boss of flying cars

Dr. Jaiwon Shin has landed at Hyundai to head up its newly established Urban Air Mobility Division.

The aeronautics engineer is a former associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA, as well as a co-chair of the White House National Science and Technology Council’s Aeronautics Science and Technology Subcommittee.

As executive vice president and head of Hyundai’s air mobility division, Dr. Shin will lead the company into a “new era of developing smart mobility products within the aviation industry”.

Hyundai will leverage his expertise in airframe, engine, safety and air traffic management technologies to develop solutions for safe and efficient airborne travel.

Commenting on his appointment, Dr. Shin said: “Having worked on cutting-edge aviation research and development at NASA for 30 years, I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to now shape urban air mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor Group.

“The new team at Hyundai will develop core technologies that will establish the company as a driving force in urban air mobility, a sector that is expected to grow into a market worth $1.5 trillion (£1.2 trillion) within the next 20 years.”

Last-mile parcels and air metros

Hyundai recruits boss of Urban Air Mobility

Urban Air Mobility is expected to become a critically important part of a range of solutions designed to reduce traffic problems in the world’s mega cities.

Aerospace giant Airbus established an Urban Air Mobility division last year to “co-create an entire industry from scratch”.

Harini Kulatunga, head of unmanned aerial mobility solutions at Airbus, said: “By 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will be urban. To help cities cope with this massive population growth, transport solutions need to safely and sustainably improve the way people get from A to B.

“Urban air mobility enhances the coverage and reach of the transportation system with minimal land impact [and] sustainable city development becomes possible.”

In November 2018, a report published by NASA found that a commercially viable market for last-mile parcel delivery and air metro could be in place by 2030.

However, the market for air taxis is likely to be limited to concentrated areas of high net worth individuals and businesses. An example would be an air taxi from Manhattan to the suburbs.

At the Global Urban Air Summit in Farnborough, Tim Johnson, policy director for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), argued that society has a “low tolerance [for risk] and high expectation of safety standards for air travel”.

Investment in the sector is expected to top $318 billion (£259 billion) from 2020 to 2040.

Hyundai reveals 12mph electric scooter you store in your car

Hyundai electric scooterHyundai’s latest idea for improving personal mobility goes beyond cars. It’s called the Personal Electric Scooter, and is stored inside your boot.

The idea is to use the scooter –which has a range of about 12 miles, can top 12mph and weighs 7.7kg – for ‘last mile commuting’. 

It’s a development of a similar idea that Hyundai debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show two years ago. Since then, the scooter has become rear-wheel drive for added safety, and gained front suspension for added comfort. What could add even more range (seven percent) is the addition of regenerative braking, although that isn’t ready yet.

‘Last-mile commuting’ Hyundai electric scooter

Hyundai has its reasons for investigating last-mile commuting. Research by McKinsey and Company showed the market in the USA, Europe and China is expected to grow to over 400 trillion pounds by 2030. Yes, you read that right.

You simply park your Hyundai up on the outskirts of the city and ride your scooter the rest of the way.

Hyundai electric scooter

“This is the vehicle-mounted personal scooter that could be featured in future Hyundai Motor Group vehicles,” said DongJin Hyun, head of Hyundai Motor Group robotics team.

“We want to make our customers’ lives as easy and enjoyable as possible. Our personal electric scooter makes first- and last-mile commuting a joy, while helping to reduce congestion and emissions in city centres.”

Here is the Hyundai Kona Hybrid you’ve been waiting for

New Hyundai Kona Hybrid revealed

‘Will there be a Hyundai Kona hybrid?’ and ‘Does the Hyundai Kona come in a hybrid?’ are two popular questions on Google right now.

It didn’t, but it does now, with Hyundai releasing details of the all-new Kona Hybrid.

Hyundai’s first sub-compact SUV arrived in 2017, with the Kona Electric debuting a year later. Nearly 120,000 have been sold in Europe, with buyers seemingly won over by the fact that the Kona was developed as an SUV from the ground up, rather than sharing its underpinnings with a hatchback.

66mpg and 99g/km CO2

Hyundai Kona Hybrid powertrain

The Kona Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 105hp and 108lb ft of torque. It’s joined by a 43.5hp electric motor to deliver a combined output of 141hp and 195lb ft of torque.

Power is fed to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch transmission, with the Kona Hybrid hitting 62mph in 11.2 seconds on 16-inch wheels or 11.6 seconds on 18-inch rims. Top speed is 99mph, regardless of wheel size.

Hyundai is targeting CO2 emissions of 99g/km and fuel economy of 66mpg, but we’ll know precise figures closer to the Kona Hybrid’s launch in August.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid interior

As standard, the Hyundai Kona Hybrid will come with a 7-inch display, but a 10.25-inch split-touchscreen will be an option. All models will feature Apple Carplay and Android Auto, with a wireless charging pad available as an upgrade.

The eye-catching launch colour of Blue Lagoon (as seen here), will be joined by seven other exterior hues, with the Hybrid offered with a choice two wheel designs, both of which are unique to the car.

Hyundai’s SmartSense safety pack is standard and includes front collision warning and avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Adaptive cruise control is an option.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid specs

Cars fitted with the 10.25-inch display will feature an Eco-Driving Assist System designed to improve fuel economy. It analyses road information from the navigation system to notify the driver when deceleration is imminent.

Hyundai says that the system reduces fuel consumption and minimises brake usage. A Predictive Energy Management system manages charging and discharging of the battery to maximise the battery usage.

We’ll bring you more information on the Hyundai Kona Hybrid, along with driving impressions, in the summer.

Hyundai has built an electric double-decker bus

Hyundai electric bus

If you’re fed up with seeing near-empty buses chuntering through town, smoke billowing from their exhausts, Hyundai has the answer.

The company has unveiled an all-electric double-decker bus, so you can look forward to seeing near-empty buses chuntering through town, only without the associated smoke and pollution.

The leccy bus can seat up to 70 passengers, with 11 seats on the first floor and 59 on the second. But before you head upstairs for a swift fag, smoking has been banned on buses since 2007. The days of lighting up in the back of a Leyland National are long gone.

On the electric buses

Hyundai all-electric busHyundai’s electric bus is a thoroughly modern affair, featuring two fixed-in-space wheelchairs and an automatic sliding ramp and low floor design for disabled and mobility-impaired passengers.

At 12,990mm long and 3,995mm high, it’s somewhat larger than the company’s usual SUV crossover fare. But unlike most seven-seat SUVs, the seats at the back don’t require the skills of a contortionist to get to.

Independent suspension for the first driving axle should result in a more comfortable ride, although after too many journeys in airport transfer buses, we still wouldn’t recommend sitting close to the rear wheels.

A 384kWh water-cooled polymer battery provides a maximum driving range of 300km (186 miles), with a full charge completed in 72 minutes.

Optimised for eco-friendly trends

Hyundai electric double-decker bus

Other features include rear-wheel steering, forward collision-avoidance, lane-keeping assist, vehicle dynamic control and a driver who’d prefer the exact fare, please.

“The double-decker electric bus is an environmentally friendly vehicle optimised for global eco-friendly trends,” said ByoungWoo Hwang, head of commercial vehicle advanced engineering team at Hyundai Motor.

“This will not only ultimately improve the air quality, but also contribute greatly to easing commuting-hour traffic congestion by accommodating more passengers.”

The Hyundai electric bus will be arriving at a bus stop near you soon, although don’t be surprised if three turn up at the same time.

Hyundai reveals its cockpit of the future

Hyundai cockpit future

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. This is a short story of Hyundai’s vision for the cockpit of the future – the view you’re likely to see when you’re sat behind the wheel of its next-generation cars.

“We are continuously working on new technologies that make our cars perfectly intuitive and user-friendly,” says Regina Kaiser, the human interface senior engineer at Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre. To this end, Hyundai has been focusing on reducing the number of buttons and creating a clean interface.

The most visible development is the creation of two touch panels on the steering wheel, which is sure to ruffle the feathers of those who believe in-car touchscreens are the work of the devil. The buttons can be adapted to the individual wishes of the driver, with the screens featuring two actuator modules beneath the surface to allow “for a stronger and more consistent haptic feedback,” claims Hyundai.

Hyundai future steering wheel

Meanwhile, the instrument cluster is a multi-layer display comprising two displays which are stacked behind each other at a distance of 6mm. This creates visual 3D effects: one part of the graphic is shown on the front display and the other part on the rear display.

According to Hyundai, this effect is used to guide the user’s attention with less distraction. The most important information, such as the speed limit, is shown at the front of the display.

The info shown on the steering wheel displays changes according to the information on the instrument cluster and also depending on the driving situation. The driver can also change the layout and create ‘shortcuts’ for entering specific applications. Customisation is important as it offers drivers maximum freedom, says Hyundai.

“We are doing research on the learnability, intuition and potential driver distraction of the virtual cockpit,” says Regina Kaiser.

Hyundai’s ‘virtual cockpit’ is still in the early prototype phase of development, but the Audi-style tech will be appearing in a new Hyundai soon. In the meantime, these images show how the technology could be integrated into a current i30.

Hyundai turns your smartphone into a car key

Hyundai smartphone digital key

The traditional car key’s days could be numbered, thanks to technology developed by Hyundai. The ‘Digital Key’ app will allow Kia and Hyundai owners to unlock and start their vehicles via their smartphone – and the tech could arrive by the end of the year.

Replacing the physical key, the app can be used by up to four authorised people and could save motorists hours of searching for lost car keys.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology detects the presence of a Digital Key-enabled smartphone in close proximity to the car door, with NFC antennas located in the driver and passenger door handles, along with another one in the wireless charging pad.

The engine is started by the driver placing the smartphone on the wireless charging pad and pressing a Start/Stop button on the dashboard.

The driver’s preferred settings are stored in the car. When the key is recognised those settings are adjusted automatically – including the position of mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as controls for the media and sat-nav systems.

According to Hyundai, once car sharing becomes more widespread, the Digital Key will be developed to support vehicle rental where the owner and the driver won’t have to meet but can transfer the Digital Key via the smartphone app.

Traditional smart keys and cards will also be provided for use at valet services and when the car is at a dealer for a service.

Harnessing connected-car technology

“The Digital Key will benefit a very wide range of future Kia and Hyundai customers, as well as enabling innovative new schemes for vehicle sharing,” said Ho Yoo, group leader of Hyundai Motor Group’s Electronics Development Group.

“We are studying other ways to harness this type of connected-car technology to greatly enhance the driving and ownership experience.”

Hyundai Motor Group aims to gradually implement the technology in new Kia and Hyundai vehicles, with the rollout starting later this year.

Hydrogen Hyundai

This Hyundai SUV actually cleans the air in London

Hydrogen Hyundai

Hyundai’s next-generation hydrogen electric car, the Nexo, has been driving along the most polluted streets in London – and purifying the air as it goes.

Hyundai teamed up with University College London (UCL) to map a route of the most polluted roads in the capital, including streets in Elephant & Castle, Kings Cross and Westminster (as we reported yesterday, Google is also in the process of mapping London air quality).

While the car itself only emits water and heat, it also has an air purification system that can filter 99.9 percent of fine dust and particulates in the air. Over the course of an hour, the Nexo can filter as much as 26.9 kilograms of air – enough, says Hyundai, to keep up to 42 adults breathing for an hour.

If 10,000 of these cars were on the road, it would have a similar carbon reduction effect to planting 60,000 trees. Big claims that for once, get some in-action proof. A demonstration was set up outside UCL, putting the filtration system to work live.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“We are all concerned about air quality and what affects it”, says Sylvie Childs, Hyundai’s Senior Product Manager for Nexo.

“At Hyundai, we are committed to improving the efficiency and environmental performance of all our vehicles and have been investing billions in bringing a full range of low and zero emission vehicles to the marketplace. We believe that the availability of alternatives, like the Nexo fuel-cell electric vehicle, will bring the UK closer to its zero-emissions future.

“However, the responsibility for this cannot only rest with us, the manufacturer. We need the government to invest equally in incentives and infrastructure that would enable Brits to have better choices when it comes to the car they drive and how it can fit into their lives.”

Read more: