Volkswagen has been the undisputed king of hot hatches for decades – but Hyundai is coming for its crown.
The Golf GTI has long been both a big-seller and critically-acclaimed hot hatch, but the Hyundai i30 N entered the contest in 2018 and quickly emerged as a strong challenger. However, it has been hamstrung, at least in terms of sales, but its lack of an automatic transmission. That’s now set to change, with Hyundai Australia confirming pricing and specifications for the updated 2021 i30 N, which includes a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
The vast majority of Golf GTIs sold in Australia are fitted with the DCT, which suggests the i30 N has potential for significant growth, making the competition between the two hot hatches more intense than ever before.
The new i30 N will be priced from $44,500 (all priced exclude on-road costs) for the six-speed manual and $47,500 for the new DCT variant. That manual price represents a $3100 increase on the out-going model.
As we’ve previously reported, the upgraded i30 N has the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine but it now makes more grunt – 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque. The DCT isn’t the only mechanical upgrade, there’s also an active variable exhaust and larger brake discs.
It also rides on new 19-inch forged alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli P-Zero tyres, these new rims save a massive 14.4kg of unsprung mass from the old model’s cast alloys.
Volkswagen isn’t sitting idle though, with the new eighth-generation Golf GTI coming to meet the i30 N. The new Golf GTI will be more expensive, priced from $53,100, but will boast the company’s latest IQ.Drive semi-autonomous driving technology. Volkswagen Australia boss Michael Bartsch is confident that it will take more than a DCT to get the i30 N ahead of the GTI.
“The art that continues to elude the GTI’s imagined competitors is a car that is as civilised in daily deployment as you choose, but which can be an accomplished sports car when you wish,” Bartsch said.
“It is these virtues, coupled with a classic rather than kitsch design and the latest in on-board technology, that will ensure the GTI and, next year, the Golf R Mark 8, continue to outsell rivals by a great margin.”
The Golf GTI is powered by a carry-over engine, making 180kW and 370Nm, which does give the i30 N bragging rights, but Volkswagen has focused on improving the handling with a new system dubbed, Vehicle Dynamics Manager.
While it will be interesting to see which one ends up on top on the sales charts, obviously the big winners are hot hatch buyers who have two strong new choices – joining the Ford Focus ST, Peugeot 308 GTi, Subaru WRX and Toyota GR Yaris.