The third-generation Hyundai i30 hatchback has again been spotted testing ahead of going on sale in 2017. This latest mule was spotted cold weather testing near the Arctic Circle, while previous prototypes have been carrying out winter testing in the Swiss Alps, and undergoing performance tests at the Nürburgring - where Hyundai has a dedicated development centre.
The facelifted i30 range was revealed in March 2015, at the Geneva motor show, and an all-new third-generation version is already in development. While the camouflage of these early-stage mules cover up most of their styling features, we can see the new i30 will come with a revised grille similar to that used by the facelifted car and the updated i40.
Key to the success of the next i30 will be a range-topping performance version, which will be the first road-going model to come from Hyundai's N Performance sub-brand. That model has already been spotted testing at the Nürburgring, and will compete with the likes of Volkswagen's Golf R when it goes on sale.
While the exact engine powering the hot i30 N is unknown, Hyundai officials have confirmed it will be a turbocharged unit, using technology derived from Hyundai's i20-based WRC car, which is also built by the N Performance division. The Korean firm's current rally car runs a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 296bhp.
Speaking at the recent Frankfurt motor show, Hyundai's vice-president of marketing, Jochen Sengpiehl, said the firm was "adding the emotional characteristics of performance and driving pleasure with Hyundai N".
Further down the range, the recently launched i30 Turbo will continue to be powered by its current 183bhp 1.6-litre 'Gamma' GDI petrol engine, while the rest of the i30's petrol and diesel engine range will be carried over with minor changes.
A hybrid version of the next i30 - using technology garnered from Hyundai's dedicated hybrid model coming in 2016 - can't be ruled out. The dedicated hybrid, which has also been spotted testing, mates the i30's 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor.
Clues to the look of the next i30's interior could come from a recent preview picture for the US-market Elantra, which sports a minimalist, buttonless design and a redesigned centre console. The i30 hatch is sold as the Elantra GT in the US.
Previous high-riding test mules have also prompted speculation that Hyundai could be looking into launching a larger version of the i30 to take on the likes of Volkswagen's Golf SV in Europe. The regular hatchback, meanwhile, will face tough competition from the likes of Ford's Focus, the Seat Leon and the Volkswagen Golf.