Hyundai i30 Fastback N (2019) review

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.

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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


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Hyundai halts car production due to Coronavirus

Hyundai Korean production suspended due to CoronavirusHyundai will suspend all car production in South Korea because of the Coronavirus. It announced the stoppage will take place between 7 February and 11 February 2020 (at the latest).

The suspension has occurred because of the Coronavirus affecting Hyundai’s parts supply chain in China, specifically the production of wiring harnesses.  

The shutdown of production makes Hyundai the first car manufacturer outside of China to be affected by the outbreak of the disease. 

2020 Hyundai i10 interior

Hyundai Motor has decided to suspend its production lines from operating at all of its plants in Korea,” the carmaker said in a statement.

“The company is reviewing various measures to minimise the disruption of its operations, including seeking alternative suppliers in other regions.”

Hyundai produces around 1.8 million vehicles in South Korea per year. For reference, its yearly sales top 4.4 million units. The company operates 13 production facilities across the globe, with seven in South Korea. 

Hyundai Korean production suspended due to Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has caused business shutdowns across China, while airlines have suspended travel to the affected areas. It has resulted in more than 400 deaths so far, and has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation. 

It was also reported recently that Coronavirus would likely result in a drop in fuel prices in the UK. This has been put down to the severe reduction in China’s use of fuel, following the restrictions on travel.

Harman noise control

Shhh! Car cabins of the future could be quieter places

Harman noise control

Car cabins of the future could be quieter places thanks to new technology developed by Harman.

The company claims its Road-Noise Active Noise Control (RANC) system reduces cabin noise by cancelling out unwanted sounds. The tyres and road surfaces are the primary sources of unwanted noise in a car.

Harman says it’s important to distinguish between sound and noise. Sound has an essential role to play, it claims, as a key influencer in customers’ purchasing decisions. On the other hand, noise is a nuisance – too much of it can ruin a driving experience.

The company points to research that suggests road noise is the biggest auditory distraction for drivers.

RANC attempts to solve that. A control processor uses a reference signal received from acceleration sensors placed along the suspension and chassis. It predicts noise transferred into the cabin and generates an anti-noise wave in real-time.

By analysing the intruding noise, it launches the anti-noise within milliseconds, before it has a chance to reach the occupants’ ears. In theory, this means unwanted noise is reduced by up to 50 percent.

Good sounds in the Genesis – that’s all

Genesis GV80 SUV interior

Sounds impressive. Just how impressive it is will be revealed to owners of the new Genesis GV80. The Korean luxury SUV is the first production car to feature the technology.

The GV80 made its debut at the Seoul Motor Show last month. It features a 14.5-inch split-screen infotainment system, a reduced number of buttons and switches, along with what Genesis calls a ‘luxury in space’ approach. SangYup Lee, head of Genesis design, said: “The concept of the ‘beauty of white space’ is a hallmark of Korean design”.

In another world-first, the Genesis GV80 features an active motion driver’s seat that contains seven air cells. Genesis says it is designed to reduce fatigue from long hours of driving.

You can expect the Harman RANC sound technology to filter down into other Genesis, Hyundai and Kia models in the future. 

Hyundai and Uber to develop ride-sharing air taxi

Hyundai and Uber ride-sharing taxi

Hyundai and Uber have unveiled a full-scale aircraft concept at CES Las Vegas.

It previews a future ride-sharing taxi – and it could take flight as early as 2023. Demonstrations are expected later this year.

Hyundai will develop, manufacture and deploy the air taxis, with Uber handling the airspace support, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces via a ride-sharing network.

The all-electric S-A1 on show at CES has a cruising speed of 180mph, a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000ft above ground, and can travel up to 60 miles.

During peak hours it will require about five to seven minutes for recharging and is designed for vertical take-off. Although it will be piloted initially, the plan is for the S-A1 to become autonomous.

Inside, there’s seating for four passengers, with room for a personal bag or backpack. Hyundai says it will ‘avoid the dreaded middle seat’.

Uber says a production version could travel at speeds of up to 200mph and that, after several years on the market, a ride in an air taxi will cost the same as an UberX trip of the same distance.

‘Vitalise urban communities’

Hyundai and Uber aerial taxi

Jaiwon Shin, executive vice president and head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) division, said: “Our vision of UAM will transform the concept of urban transportation.

“We expect UAM to vitalise urban communities and provide more quality time to people. We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible.”

Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, added: ”Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale.

“We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip.

”Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in the coming years.”


2019 Hyundai advert beats Apple for YouTube views

Hyundai beats Apple in ad views on YouTube

YouTube has revealed its most-watched adverts of 2019. Among heavy-hitters like Amazon, Apple and Bosch, we find Hyundai USA, with the second most-watched advert on YouTube in 2019.

Hyundai’s ‘The Elevator’ Super Bowl commercial racked up 38.9 million views in 2019, following its debut at the end of January. As our title reveals, Hyundai beat Apple with its introduction of the iPhone 11. It’s no small margin either, with Hyundai beating Apple by a healthy seven million views.

The odds are, for once, stacked against Apple. Why? Because Apple famously debuts its new iPhones in the autumn. As such, the iPhone advert has been up for three months, as opposed to Hyundai’s, which has had the whole year to accumulate views.

Even Amazon has had the whole year to build up views, with its ‘Not Everything Makes the Cut’ Super Bowl spot going up on 30 January. In fact, Apple in fourth is the first on the list to not be posted in January of this year.

Regardless, Hyundai should take its second place and run with it. As well as beating Apple, it also topped the Doritos crisp brand advert, also aired at the Super Bowl, which features Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys.

In terms of fellow motoring brands, Hyundai beat Audi, which had the clout of Marvel and Spider-Man behind it. Nike, Stella Artois and the NFL were other brands beaten by Hyundai.

Hyundai beats Apple in ad views on YouTube

“Despite the significant changes in consumers’ media habits, the Super Bowl still stands on its own as the best way to reach a sizeable and engaged audience looking to be entertained by brands,” said Angela Zepeda, CMO, Hyundai Motor America.

“Our goal is to strike an emotional connection with consumers and make them feel something. It’s a challenge we embrace, and after starting with 344 original scripts, we’ve landed on what we think will be another standout for Hyundai.”

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.