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Hyundai can’t make a hot hatch, can it? From the very moment the South Korean brand announced it would be creating its own performance division, the i30 N drew a line in the sand.

Automotive enthusiasts lined up on either side to be either for or against the newcomer. Some claimed Hyundai had no heritage, which somehow made its challenger invalid.

A performance past may be missing, but you have to start somewhere and Hyundai’s development – headed by a former BMW M engineer – seems as good a place as any to start.

Perhaps because it wasn’t bogged down by the weight of tartan seats, dimpled gear knobs and red-rimmed grilles, Hyundai has managed to deliver an effusively raucous little ball of fun.

My introduction to the first Hyundai hot hatch came as it was pitched into battle against the Golf GTI Original in a head-to-head comparison. The i30 N and I hit it off immediately, thanks to telepathically-adept handling balance and a preternatural ability to get grip down via its mechanically locking front differential.

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Later testing as part of the CarAdvice hot hatch mega test revealed that the i30 N wasn’t necessarily the fastest around Winton raceway, but that didn’t matter. It’s so involving, so grippy, so playful and so ridiculously loud and primal in N-mode that a few tenths of a second are a small price to pay for the resulting bucketloads of good old-fashioned giggly fun.

Would I put down my hard-earned for one? Don’t tell my minister for finance, but I’m trying to work out a way to tweak the figures and do just that.

I am a little hesitant though because the interior is a bit too (how do I put this delicately?) traditional Hyundai.

It’s not the most inviting place to sit, but I think I can get over that, particularly if Hyundai manages to get its N Option range of Alcantara and carbon enhancements to market here. Fingers crossed then.

Essentially the i30 N is a perfect example about what made hot hatches fun in the first place. It’s quick, though it isn’t the quickest, that doesn’t matter though because it’s engaging, adept and crucially more fun than a backyard full of labrador puppies.

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