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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

For a sub-£28,000 hot hatchback to record a 0-60mph sprint that’s closer to six seconds than it is to seven should produce exactly the sort of reaction from regular buyers of fast front-drivers that Hyundai was hoping for.

On a greasy track, our test car averaged 6.4sec from rest to 60mph, while clearly struggling for the traction necessary to use full power in either first or second gear.

In the firmer modes, the i30 N is better to leave the traction control engaged to go fast around flat, off-camber bends

On a perfect day and after a perfect start, we wouldn’t rule out shaving several tenths off that showing, although we’d be surprised to see the car go under 6.0sec.

It’s bafflingly rare to see launch control fitted to the powerful, front-driven, manual-transmission hot hatchbacks on which it’d be of more help than on almost any other kind of performance car, but it does appear on the i30 N.

Unfortunately, although it works fairly well, our quickest runs were recorded with the traction and stability aids completely disabled – and they were produced in only a fairly hit-and-miss fashion.

That’s because Hyundai’s engine for this car may have plenty of torque but it’s delivered in a bit of a sudden rush of boost in the middle of the rev range.

It’s very difficult to moderate in the lower gears and can easily disrupt the driven axle’s hold on even dry tarmac if you inadvertently use that little bit too much accelerator.

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The engine pulls hard once grip returns but doesn’t have the balanced, linear feel of the 2.0-litre turbo in the Civic Type R and doesn’t rev nearly as keenly above 5000rpm.

The engine sounds nicely venomous, if very induction whoosh dominated, from the outside of the car – but from the inside, your appreciation of it is handicapped by Hyundai’s Active Sound Design engine noise synthesis system. It plays through the audio speakers at a volume you can choose to ignore in certain driving modes but it becomes much too loud and artificial-sounding in others.

Mercifully, though, you can configure the car for enhanced engine response combined with less exhaust noise fakery using the Custom driving mode.

Deserving of much more praise is the shift quality of the i30 N’s six-speed manual gearbox, which has just the right effort level and nicely defined feel, and the brakes, which are powerful and work through a nicely feelsome and progressive pedal.