THIS is new territory for Hyundai, the Korean company that, until now, had largely focused on building good quality cars at sensible prices with no serious pretensions at providing thrills.

The i30 N is Hyundai’s first performance model under the Hyundai N sub brand, and – surprise, surprise – it’s a game-changer.

For those who understandably could never see Hyundai vying for your bucks in the land of the VW Golf GTi and Honda Civic Type R, then prepare to be amazed. You would simply have to add this car to your shopping list if you are in the market for a hot-hatch.

It is among the very best at delivering all the required components for putting a smile on your face when you ask it to perform, without ever forgetting that it will also need to provide a comfortable ride for the daily drive to work.

With oodles of front-end grip, super-accurate steering and one of the best soundtracks out there, it’s good enough to challenge and even beat the best in the business.

Its distinctive looks and inviting cabin are really only appetisers for the main course, which is a fun-filled and exhilarating experience behind the wheel.

Sitting 8mm lower than the regular i30 and with twin exhaust pipes and flashes of red on show, the car makes a statement of intent.

The N moniker stands for both Namyang – Hyundai’s global R&D Centre in Korea where i30 N was born - and for the Nürburgring, home to Hyundai’s European test centre where the i30 N was further developed and tested.

Available in two specifications - i30 N and the more hardcore i30 N Performance tested here – both models come with an extensive list of standard equipment, but it is the Performance version that steals the show.

The i30 N is priced from £24,995 and features LED head and tail lights, adaptive speed control, keyless entry with engine start/stop button, eight-inch touchscreen satellite navigation with phone connection, 18-inch alloy wheels and electronically controlled suspension.

You also get a torque vectoring system and steering wheel-mounted drive mode buttons to customise engine and suspension settings.

Fork out a further £3,000 for the N Performance version and you get 19-inch wheels with upgraded tyres, an additional 25PS of power from the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, an electronic limited slip differential and leather and suede seats with electrical operation on the driver’s and passenger’s seats.

The proverbial icing on the car comes in the form of an exhaust system which allows the vehicle to reveal its playful character with ‘crackle’ and ‘pop’ sounds from the exhaust when in N or Custom drive mode.

For those wishing to exploit the car’s potential to the full, both models come with a drive mode display, suspension, engine and transmission set-up, lap timer, acceleration timer and performance gauges including engine torque, turbo boost and g force display.

Other shared equipment includes launch control to assist the driver with maximum acceleration from a standing start and a system to maximise braking response after high g-load cornering.

Body performance modifications over the standard i30 bring additions including reinforced front suspension strut rings, strengthened front sub frame and a central tunnel support bracket. The body modifications continue inside with the addition of a rear stiffness bar across the rear wheel arch lowers.

In outright performance terms, both i30 N and i30 N Performance are electronically limited to 155 miles per hour, with the 0-62 sprint reached in 6.4 and 6.1 seconds respectively.

The i30 N range is available in six colours - slate, white, grey, black and red alongside a new N-specific colour of Performance Blue.