Open the door and the sculpted racing seats are the most obvious changes, but look in vain for after-market names such as Recaro. As with the rest of the chassis, Bierman has resisted the temptation to crowd his new sub-brand with further sub, sub-brands. Simplicity rules here, with a proper steering wheel, a manual handbrake, concise twin-dial instrument binnacle and little gear lever that defines snickety. It seems well made and of reasonably quality (if not quite up to Volkswagen standards), but there's not a lot of labelling or indeed difference from the standard i30 except the steering wheel has a couple of buttons to allow you to separately dial in harder settings for the damping, throttle response, exhaust note and steering.
Even in normal mode, it sounds a bit throatier than a standard i30, but this engine hasn't the finest of voices, which an orchestra of electronic wizardry fails to transform beyond mildly wearing. Nor is it as lightning fast as the top-order of hot hatches, yet on the road, it feels tough enough, with lots of mid-range urge and a lovely progression to the major controls. You'd not really notice the extra go of the Performance Pack at this level of driving, though a race track makes it obvious. That gearbox is a delight, however, with a short travel to every aspect, so much so, you need to have a care not to wrong-slot the lever, especially when braking into corners.
Electrically powered steering hasn't the last word in feedback, but it is precise and progressive, and there's a sense of control you don't always get with powerful front-drive hatchbacks. Part of that is the action of the differential which helps to drive the nose into the turns, despite a tendency to nose on oversteer if you simply sling it around. The body control is taut and confidence inspiring, and on the track, this gets to be seriously wayward good fun. That wonderful chassis balance allows you to slither round at the edge of insanity and even with everything off, the i30 N remains forgiving of pretty much everything, up to and including a cheeky dab on the brakes midway through corner to bury the nose deeper into the turn. It's great fun. And talking of those brakes, there's another triumph for the development team, with simple swinging arm callipers bought to a level of performance which gives them a first-rate response and allows them to be abused round a circuit for lap after lap without significant fade.