Hyundai i30 N TCR is a small race car that packs a big punch

The Hyundai i30 N is a performance model Hyundai doesn’t sell in the U.S., but this particular version wasn’t built for showrooms. The Hyundai i30 N TCR will hit the track later this year as part of a new class of race cars based on small hatchbacks and sedans.

TCR is short for Touring Car Racing, and it was conceived as a lower-cost class that could be added to multiple international racing series. Cars based on production models race in variety of classes, organized according to performance, the level of modifications allowed, and running costs. Just like regular car buyers, race teams are always looking for ways to keep costs down. TCR provides them with a lower-cost way to get on the track.

Unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, the i30 N TCR will race in the Pirelli World Challenge, which added TCR-class cars to its roster at the beginning of the 2018 season (as did the rival IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge). The Hyundai will face off against racing versions of the Audi RS3 and Volkswagen GTI. Hyundai is partnering with Brian Herta Autosport, with drivers Micheal Lewis and Mark Wilkins.

The i30 N TCR sports a modified version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the stock i30 N. The engine sends 350 horsepower to the front wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission. The brakes and suspension were upgraded from stock, and the car features all of the necessary safety equipment, including a roll cage and fir extinguisher.

“N” is Hyundai’s performance sub-brand, and the i30 N was its first production model. The U.S. only gets the base non-N version, which is sold here as the Elantra GT. However, the i30 N powertrain will appearing the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N, which goes on sale in the U.S. later this year. The Veloster is basically an Elantra GT/i30 with funkier styling.

The i30 N TCR’s first U.S. race will be at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, March 23-25. Pirelli World Challenge organizers have five more TCR races planned this year at some notable tracks, including Virginia International Raceway, Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park, Portland (Oregon) International Raceway, Utah Motorsports Campus, and Watkins Glen International Raceway in upstate New York. It should be fun to see these little cars tear it up on the track.