In the U.S. market, the only performance-focused vehicle in Hyundai's lineup is the Veloster N, but in Europe, the Hyundai hot hatch of choice is the i30 N (the i30 is the Elantra GT in America). Since the i30 N first debuted two years ago, Hyundai has used it as the base for its WTCR and TCR racecars, and during that time has been researching how to fine-tune and improve the car's performance. Now Hyundai is bringing its learnings to the European market with the i30 N Project C, a lighter, lower and more aggressive special edition of the i30 N.
Hyundai has been hinting at a pluckier i30 N for some time. At the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Hyundai debuted the i30 N Option, which displayed various lightweight and aerodynamic performance parts. In a lot of ways, the Project C is the production realization of that concept. Hyundai says the C in Project C stands for three things: the "Area C" test track at its Namyang research and development facilities, carbon fiber, and center of gravity. The latter two are indicative of some of the changes Hyundai made to the i30 N.
The Project C focuses on lightness and grip rather than power, so the engine is carried over from the i30 N with the Performance Package. The tuned turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 271 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 1,450 rpm (279 lb-ft in overboost). Hyundai did retune the drive modes for better responsiveness and claims zero to 62 mph in 6.0 seconds and a 155-mph top speed.
More important is the car's heft. The Project C has a curb weight of 3,075 pounds, which is approximately 110 pounds lighter than the i30 N. Much of that reduction is accomplished with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), which has not been used on a production Hyundai road car before. The glossy CFRP is used for the hood, front splitter, rear diffuser, side sills, and on the backing of the competition-spec front bucket seats. The 19-inch forged OZ racing wheels account for 48.5 pounds of the weight loss, as well.
Further honing the car's corner-carving abilities, the dampers have been recalibrated, and shorter suspension springs were swapped in. The Project C sits 6 mm lower, which helps lower the center of gravity height by about 8.8 mm. The Project C also pulls the "rear cargo zone stiffness bar" from the i30 N's performance Package.
Inside, Hyundai added Alcantara to the steering wheel, handbrake lever, and manual shift lever, which also has a brushed aluminum know shaped like a pistonhead. Contrasting against the dark matte gray exterior, Deep Orange brake calipers match contrast seat stitching, seatbelts, and steering wheel accents. A final touch is a x/600 badge on the passenger side that indicates the limited run of 600 examples.
Unfortunately, all 600 are dedicated to European markets. Maybe the U.S. will see a Veloster N Project C with similar trimmings in the future.