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REVIEW – Hyundai i30 Fastback N

Associate Editor, Social Content Manager


Hyundai i30 Fastback 2.0 T-GDi 275PS N
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
5

Summary

The Hyundai i30 N – and now, the i30 Fastback N – has set the new benchmark for hot hatchbacks. There are more powerful cars out there – like the Honda Type-R. There are roomier cars – like the Skoda Octavia vRS. But no car can match the i30 as an all-rounder. It’s the perfect mix of practicality, speed, equipment, refinement and – most importantly – fun. And at a price that undercuts the majority of rivals. It’s the one we’d buy; for sure.


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Exterior Styling

Until last year, Hyundai had never released a properly hot hatch. Now we’ve got behind the wheel of the i30 Fastback N. This is based on the successful i30 N Performance hatchback we tested last year, but with more focus on looks…

Our test car was finished in white which, whilst not be our first choice, contrasts nicely against the gloss and matte black accents. For what it’s worth, we’d choose the stealthy Shadow Grey.

To the front, the feature distinct red pinstripe instantly grabs attention, almost like a warning signal that this car isn’t for playing games. A bold honeycomb grille gives a sporty feel, and the ‘N’ badge hints at performance.

Along the sides are matte black side skirts with more ‘N’ logos. These were finished in a matte plastic, which should stand the test of time against the UK weather. That being said it would have been nice to have seen them finished in gloss to match the wing mirrors and spoiler.

The car sits on 19-inch alloy wheels, finished in two tone polished/gloss black. Behind those wheels are the red brake calipers which further bolster the sportiness.

The i30 Fastback N is all about that rear end, and here’s where it gets interesting. A gradual slope replaces the abrupt drop of the hatchback. It looks longer, sleeker, more elegant, without losing its bold, hot-hatchness.

There’s a gloss black lip spoiler, which we absolutely love. And the triangular fog light – reminiscent of race cars – also stays, but is moved to the bottom of the bumper. Either side of this are two rather large, round exhaust pipes. More on that in a little while.

Whilst we liked the hatchback, we love the i30 Fastback N. It adds a certain maturity to the i30 N, which is commendable.

Interior Finish

Despite the more mature looks of the i30 Fastback N, the exterior styling is not what you’d call subtle. The interior, however, feels a little bit held back. There’s a lot of black, making it a little dark. Or ‘focussed’ as we like to think of it.

Front seat passengers get quite large sports seats with plenty of side bolstering and shoulder support. They’re actually rather comfortable for a sport seat with plenty of adjustment. They are an ‘in house’ seat, not like the Recaros you’d find in a Focus ST. But then cost savings need to be made somewhere…

The i30 Fastback N gets a chunkier steering wheel with added buttons: one for ‘N’ mode and one for drive mode select. The dials are analogue, and a little on the plain side, except for the dynamic rev limiter which restricts you until the engine gets warm.

A really cool feature is the addition of shift lights. Situated at the top of the instrument panel they light up as the revs climb. Get to the redline and the flash at you in anger; it’s brilliant!

Plastics, on the whole, are good. Don’t get me wrong, yes there are some hard-scratchy plastics. However, they are largely kept in low-down areas you’d never touch. What can’t be forgiven is the handbrake, which is revolting to touch. Stick some leather on it!

Centre stage on the dashboard is the ‘perched’ 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. This is becoming an ever-popular styling touch, allowing for slimmer dashboards and larger touchscreens to co-exist.

Although the interior is absolutely fine – a nice blend of sportiness and functionality – we’d loved to have seen Hyundai add a bit more flair. A touch of fake carbon and ambient lighting can go a long way.

Engine/Performance

For the i30 Fastback N, Hyundai dropped the less-powerful version of its 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine. So the one you get has an impressive 275PS and 353Nm of torque (378 on overboost).

Power is sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. There is no automatic option, which hot hatch purists will admire. But the likes of Golf GTi, Octavia vRS and Leon Cupra – with their DSG gearboxes – are changing those perceptions.

Don’t discount this manual option though, because Hyundai has also thrown in a rev match function. As you change down, it blips the throttle, matching the revs to the lower gear, thus giving a smooth downshift, even when you’re being especially aggressive.

Performance is truly hot-hatch worthy: 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. That puts it right in contention with the Ford Focus ST and VW Golf GTi.

There are five drive modes; Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom. The latter allows you to find your perfect ‘N’ combination. For example being able to soften the damping whilst maintaining maximum throttle responsiveness and steering weight.

Jump into the i30 Fastback N and hit the starter button and you’ll instantly know what the fuss is all about. Most modern hot hatches now have lacklustre exhausts, opting solely for electronic noise piped through the speakers to satisfy the driver.

Not the i30 Fastback N though. Oh not. The Hyundai has a proper sports exhaust. Put it in N mode and be transported to a word of pops and bangs. Hit the redline and you rewarded with a firework display of crackles. It’s a refreshing, and frankly exhilarating, experience.

Ride/Handling

A truly successful hot hatch has to be impressive and fun in the bends. The Hyundai i30 Fastback N has an adaptive damping setup, allowing you different settings to best suit the type of driving you are doing.

What’s more, Hyundai has tweaked this setup for the Fastback and made it a little softer, which is a welcome improvement. Driving in Eco or normal modes, the i30 Fastback N is moderately comfortable. Sure, you can still feel bumps and imperfections, but it’s not as bad as you’d expect from a hot hatch.

Switch to the ‘N’ mode and the whole car stiffens up, to what is is one of the more aggressive rides in the hot hatch market. What that means though, is minimal body roll and confidence to chuck the i30 into corners at speed.

I probably wouldn’t recommend driving in ‘N’ mode all the time, unless you want a back operation in 5 years. However having the option for a track day – or the occasional spot of B-road blasting – is always handy.

To ensure the 275PS is able to be put to best use, the i30 Fastback N features an e-LSD which minimises understeer. To be fair, you’d never realise it was an electronic LSD unless someone told you. It’s that good; able to control the mountain of power even in wet and slippery conditions.

Those rather large red brake callipers provide ample stopping power through 345mm front discs and 314mm rear discs. Hyundai decided to manufacture its own brakes in-house, as opposed to getting a Brembo set, to reduce costs. And whilst they are no 4 or 6 piston calipers, there’s still enough stopping power to give you confidence to push hard.

Economy

One major appeal of hot hatches is that they offer performance to match big-engine performance cars, but without costing the earth to run. So we hold high expectations when we test hot hatches, and rightly so.

The i30 Fastback N cites combined fuel consumption of 34.0mpg under WLTP testing, which is not bad considering that this is a 2.0-litre engine with decent power output.

The interesting question is always how close you can get to those official figures. During our time with the car, we were was seeing figures hovering around the 30mpg mark. This was backed up further by a work colleague whose relative has one, and achieves similar figures.

But realistically any car at the more powerful end of this segment will be comparable. And 30mpg is perfectly acceptable given that our time with the car was more aimed at having fun than being frugal.

A warning though; go a bit overboard on the throttle all the time, and you’ll soon be on first name terms with the local petrol station cashier.

The i30 Fastback N has an ‘Eco’ drive mode. This decreases throttle responsiveness so as to save fuel. You also get start/stop technology to cut the engine when stationery.

CO2 emissions are 178g/km, which isn’t drastically different to others in this class. In terms of VED costs, that means £855 in the first year and £145 thereafter. You’re nowhere near the £40,000 VED surcharge either.

Practicality

With a sloping roof line, and gorgeous fastback looks, you’d be forgiven for expecting some compromise on practicality with the i30 Fastback N.

But, somehow, Hyundai has managed to maintain the spaciousness in the cabin. If you really concentrate you’ll notice that rear headroom is a little shorter in supply than in the hatchback, but it’s still fine. Legroom is no issue at all.

Impressively, the boot space has actually increased; from 381 litres to 450 litres. How? We can only assume its wizardry, combined with the slightly longer rear end of the Fastback. And because Hyundai has maintained a hatchback tailgate – in that the glass opens with it – loading bulky items is a breeze.

That being said, if you want to transport the family pooch around, the hatchback may be more suitable thanks to a taller, squarer boot.

The Fastback still benefits from 60/40 split-folding rear seats as standard. You’ll no doubt have noticed the strengthening bar in the back, which is rather cool. And you needn’t worry about larger loads, because the bar can be unscrewed if required.

Rear visibility is a little worse than the hatchback thanks to that sloping tailgate, but still pretty good. And with a reversing camera manoeuvring is easy. Driving through town is no hardship thanks to the comfort drive mode, which turns the i30 Fastback N from being a hardcore hot hatch to a tame family car.

Equipment

One thing I’ve come to terms with during my time in motor journalism is that the Korean’s are one of the best for giving out a lot of technology and equipment as standard. They put other manufacturers for shame by offering for free what others would charge a hefty sum for.

The i30 Fastback N is no exception to this rule, with a list of standard equipment that puts a lot of rival hot hatches to shame.

For convenience you get keyless entry and go, electric front seats with driver’s memory function, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, automatic lights and automatic wipers.

On the infotainment front there’s satellite navigation, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and even a wireless charging pad.

Safety equipment is also in plentiful supply. There’s driver attention alert, lane departure warning system with lane keep assist, hill-start assist, autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning system, and a host of airbags. Just what you’d hope for in a family car.

The equipment list goes on further, with other notable inclusions being a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and LED headlights.

There are no options available on this car, nor are there multiple trim levels. What you see is what you get, and there’s a lot to be said for that approach. If you’re in the market for a second-hand i30 Fastback N it’s reassuring to know that you needn’t size every car up for spec/options, because they’re all the same.

Value For Money

So, in case you haven’t already realised, I really like the Hyundai i30 Fastback N. It adds a little more maturity in the looks department, and adds versatility by offering a choice next to the hatchback.

However, the key question is how much does it all cost? Because ultimately, no matter how good the car is, if its overpriced people will walk straight past the Hyundai dealership towards more premium brands.

It is therefore with great pleasure I can tell you that the price of an i30 Fastback N is £29,995 on the road. Our test car was finished in standard Polar White paint. Metallic paid, and the special Performance Blue or Shadow Grey, all cost £585. But it has to be said that either of the specials are worth every penny, and really suit this car.

There’s no denying that with that price the i30 N is putting itself out there as one of the best value all-rounders in the hot hatch segment. For example the new Ford Focus ST starts at £32,495 for the petrol version, and you’d have to spend more on options to get a comparable equipment level.

Also consider that the Hyundai i30 Fastback N benefits from a 5-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. And word on the street is that this won’t be voided for taking your i30 on a track day. It is, after all, a selling point of the car.

Both Dan and I agree that the i30 Fastback N is a compelling choice in the hot hatch segment right now, and is the car against which others can be judged. In fact, when I was recently swapping my daily driver, Dan was adamant I should buy one. And it was very, very tempting…

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 275PS at 6,000rpm
Max torque 378Nm (Overboost) at 1,750-4,200rpm
Drivetrain 6-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive with e-LSD
0-62mph 6.1 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel tank size 50 litres
Fuel consumption 34.0 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 178 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,441kg
Towing capacity 1,600kg braked / 700kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 450 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £29,995
Price as tested £29,995
Company website www.hyundai.co.uk/new-cars/i30-fastback-n
Hyundai i30 Fastback 2.0 T-GDi 275PS N
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
5

Summary

The Hyundai i30 N – and now, the i30 Fastback N – has set the new benchmark for hot hatchbacks. There are more powerful cars out there – like the Honda Type-R. There are roomier cars – like the Skoda Octavia vRS. But no car can match the i30 as an all-rounder. It’s the perfect mix of practicality, speed, equipment, refinement and – most importantly – fun. And at a price that undercuts the majority of rivals. It’s the one we’d buy; for sure.

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