Last year at Festival of Motoring, Volkswagen revealed that the Golf 7.5 GTi TCR is coming to SA and that brought a smile on everyone’s faces but around that time Hyundai announced that the i30 N will be coming to SA. On 12 February 2020, the first units of the i30 N arrived in South Africa and people got to check it out and the feedback was positive but some had concerns about the price, stating that it is too high. Clearly, these two hot hatches were made to compete against each other because spec wise they are merely matched. So, I have been looking at the specs to see which one is great on paper and please note that I haven’t been behind the wheel of both these cars but I have seen and inspected them in person.

Engine and Performance

These cars have the same engine displacements, a 2.0 litre turbopetrol inline 4-cylinder engine but have different outputs which is obvious. The more powerful GTi TCR produces 286 hp (213 kW) and 380 Nm of torque while the latter i30 N makes do with 271 hp (202 kW) and 353 Nm of torque which is still a lot. There is a 250 hp (186 kW) i30 N standard model but SA is only getting the Performance Package which has a lot more power.

Because the i30 N comes with only a 6-speed manual gearbox, the sprint time is evidently slower compared to the GTi TCR which comes with the quick-shifting 7-Speed DSG transmission. It’s 5.6 seconds to 100 km/h for the German and 6.1 seconds for the Korean. Keep in mind that both cars are front-wheel drive and both use a sophisticated front limited-slip differential. Top speed for the GTi TCR is 264 km/h and for the i30 N is 250 km/h. The GTi TCR managed to post a Nurburgring lap time of 8:04.92 and I am guessing that you are interested to know the Hyundai’s lap time, well there is a bit of a pickle. Hyundai says they are not interested in posting the lap time despite the i30 N being fully developed at the Nurburgring but hey it is what it is. Anyway, an estimation time would be around 8:18.0 via Fastestlaps.com.

Exterior and Interior Design

Firstly, I just want to say how truly good looking the i30 N is. The Hyundai N division did a fantastic job in the styling department and have met the criteria of how a hot hatchback should look. The front outline is aggressive, the side profile looks just as good plus with the double-spoke 19-inch aluminium alloys and the rear end looks Godly with a rear spoiler, a truculent rear diffuser and twin-exhaust pipes which makes the sweetest noise. It comes in five colours: Engine Red, Performance Blue, Phantom Black, Polar White and Micron Grey.

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The interior of the i30 N feels plush and upmarket with artificial suede and leather sports seats and has a nice bespoke N steering wheel with brushed aluminium shift pedals. Everything is well placed, the dash and centre console feels premium. Though the design looks a bit not so good, it’s still function over form that matters.

What about the GTi TCR? It gets a 10/10 rating from everyone and also with me because already the Golf 7.5 looks fantastic. There are colours like Pure White and Pure Grey but what stands out for me is the Tornado Red. There are various exterior enhancements on the TCR edition over the standard Golf 7.5 GTi like the front splitter, 19-inch Reifnitz alloys which are unique to the TCR, an aggressive diffuser coupled with twin sport exhaust pipes, a rear spoiler and TCR honeycomb decals on the sides. Any person would instantly like the TCR because of how much of a positive impact the GTi has had on the SA car market.

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The seats have been specially designed for the TCR and have Alcantara on them and that extends to an Alcantara steering wheel and Alcantara trim on other parts of the dash. Personally, I think the i30 N looks good outside and the GTi TCR looks better on the inside.

Equipment

So what do you get on both cars? Well, the GTi TCR comes with Active Info Display, Park Assist, Dynamic Chassis Control, a panoramic sunroof, basically almost everything you’d find on the Golf 7.5 R. The i30 N also impresses with an equipment list that has wireless charging, also a panoramic sunroof, park assist, rearview camera and Apple CarPlay, not that is a surprise because it is also available on the Golf. But if you check closely, the TCR looks like the bargain of the century when it comes to the equipment offered in relation to the price which I should now talk about.

Price

The price for the Golf 7.5 GTi TCR is R669 000 with a 3 year/120 000 km warranty and the Hyundai i30 N costs R679 900 with a 7 year/200 000 km warranty. So, is it a win for the Korean hot hatch? No, no it isn’t. Despite Hyundai justifying the price by saying it will come in limited units, same applies to the GTi TCR which is coming in July with only 300 units that are going to be made available for purchase. The Hyundai lacks the equipment, interior design and heritage compared to the Golf 7.5 GTi TCR and that is because of the badge on the front. Hyundai has only entered the game of hot hatches recently and the Golf has been playing around that court for nearly 40 years and ever since it has gained recognition as the best hatchback money can buy.

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We are insinuating that the i30 N is an unnecessary purchase but one has to test drive it and be sure that they are ready to move it into their garage. The Golf GTi TCR won’t be burdened with a lot of questions because we already know it will drive brilliantly and please don’t even think for second that you’d be wasting time by not paying extra and getting a Golf 7.5 R because like the Golf 7 Clubsport, it is the last hurrah of an epic era. Think of it this way, you’re paying for a fully specced GTi with a lot of horsepower.

Sources: Hyundai i30 N Press Release, Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR Press Release