Hyundai's 2020 N Festival hits Queensland Raceway
Fans relish opportunity to watch N models strut their stuff.
It was great to see the true passion in the crowd assembled at Queensland Raceway near Ipswich on a hot and humid Sunday for Hyundai’s 2020 N Festival.
It’s the second such event the company has held, with the free inaugural 2019 N Festival held at Wakefield Park racetrack.
This family- friendly event is aimed at getting owners of Hyundai’s highly regarded N Performance models together to celebrate all things N Performance and most importantly, to actually encourage them to experience their car’s true capabilities on a racetrack.
And with a very modest charge of $20 to secure a place – if you don’t already hold a track licence a day track licence costs another $30 – it has to be the cheapest way to get the thrill of some track action happening, all with like-minded N-thusiasts. And your factory warranty even allows for track use (N Performance models).
If you aren’t an owner and eligible to drive then no problem, enjoy the track as a passenger from the front seat or just as a spectator.
We were along as part of a small local motoring media contingent to take in the event’s atmosphere and get some solid and totally enjoyable track time behind the wheel of selected N models present and future.
This year’s event on 24 January attracted 287 people, including 106 individual drivers and 76 passengers of owners’ cars.
Attendees came from far and wide with one flying in from South Australia and of those driving in, three were from northern NSW, one from Bundaberg, one from the ACT, and one from Colac in Victoria.
With hot laps in Hyundai’s Targa i30N piloted by Holly Espray, the new i20N prototype in the more-than-capable hands of rally ace Chris Atkinson and Brendan Reeves in the Time Attack i30N replete with massive rear wing, plus driver training opportunities, a total of 252 happy individuals enjoyed the all-day track experiences.
Cue also N Performance displays and merchandise, prizes and giveaways, a live band, and food vendors to add some festival atmosphere.
On display too, the new and yet-to-be-released i30N, albeit in left-drive fastback format, with the new eight-speed N dual-clutch transmission, plus the insane Hyundai Drift-bus.
The latter, a heavily modified iMax 8-seat people mover with a 300kW, 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 shoe-horned under the lid, also took to the track to delight the assembled rev-heads with its tyre-frying antics.
Currently limited to the 2.0-litre turbo i30N in either Hatchback or Sportback form with six-speed manual box, the N range is about to grow.
Among the newcomers in the first half of the year is the i20N Hatch, inspired by the i20 WRC car and sporting a 150kW, 275Nm 1.6-litre turbo engine married to a six-speed manual. After our hands-on track time in the feisty i20N prototype we can confirm it’s a proper little hot hatch that’s fun to drive and I can’t wait to slide back behind the wheel to get even better acquainted.
Pricing hasn’t been announced yet but to keep it competitive with alternatives such as the Ford Fiesta ST turbo and VW Polo GTi we would guess around $30K to $35K bringing a new level of affordability to the N Performance stables.
Also due for 2021 release is the Kona N, Hyundai’s first SUV in the performance N range, powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine driving though an eight-speed N DCT transmission.
The newly updated i30N range, including a sedan variant and the option of an eight-speed N DCT transmission, is also scheduled for this year.
It’s only a few years since the hot-shot N Performance models were introduced to the Hyundai range amid critical acclaim.
That includes the i30N Hatch winning Best Sports Car under $62,000 in Australia’s Best Cars awards.
But they have quickly developed a well-deserved following and it’s really refreshing to see a manufacturer in the affordable mainstream part of the sports market holding such accessible events that encourage enthusiast owners to take to the track and share the passion.