Hyundai i30 Fastback N (2017-2020) review
Agile around corners and easy to drive fast – the Hyundai i30 Fastback N has plenty going for it but it’s not the best for carrying passengers
What's not so good
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The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is a little bit like Usain Bolt in a tuxedo. It isn’t quite as practical as the i30 N hatchback on which it’s based, but it turns more heads and is every bit as quick. In fact, it’s so stylish you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s far more expensive than it actually is. So much so, it won our carwow Value Award for 2019.
Thankfully, it’s really easy to spot an i30 Fastback N from a regular i30 Fastback. For starters, the N is available in some exclusive colours, some of them with a ‘frozen’ effect that you might also see on a high-end Mercedes-AMG. Other exterior differences include more aggressive bumpers, pretty large 19-inch wheels wrapped in sticky P-Zero tyres and an F1-style fog light in the middle of the rear bumper. There’s also a discrete lip spoiler at the back and the whole car sits lower on performance suspension.
The sporty makeover continues inside with red stitching just about everywhere, an N-branded steering wheel with shortcut buttons to the driving modes, supportive sport seats, black headliner and an instrument binnacle with a special dial to show you the optimal time to shift up.
You also get the top-spec 8-inch infotainment system with sat-nav and smartphone connection as standard which is an easy to use system with crisp graphics but its zoom-in feature is too slow to react at times. In the boot, you also have a strengthening brace that runs from one wheel well to the other.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is a great-looking alternative to the slightly staid Golf GTI
As for passenger space, you can get comfortable upfront in the i30 Fastback N without much fuss thanks to standard electric seat adjustment. Things are worse in the back, though. If you’re six-feet tall or over, and sitting behind a driver of similar height, not only do you need to straddle the front seat because of limited legroom, but you also have to tilt your head slightly in order to actually sit upright.
Powering the i30 Fastback N is a 2.0-litre petrol engine making 275hp. It’s a great engine for a performance car thanks to it’s linear and near-instantaneous power delivery. In normal driving, the 2.0-litre engine is fairly economical but nothing impressive, even among alternatives with similar power. However, start enjoying the i30 Fastback’s power and fuel consumption quickly plummets in the low twenties.
Indeed, show the i30 Fastback N some corners and you quickly forget about anything to do with saving fuel. The i30 Fastback N is huge fun and incredibly easy to drive fast. But fear not, thanks to selectable driving modes you can relax the suspension and mute the exhaust for a long motorway trip so there are no issues if you plan to use your Fastback for long commutes.
It’s the Hyundai i30 Fastback N’s range of talents that make it such a great car. If you need more practicality there’s always the i30 N hatchback, but if not, the Fastback has the same great drive with the looks to turn heads. Even better, it comes full to the brim with equipment for a very keen price. To see just how keen, head over to our Hyundai deals pages.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N has a seriously roomy boot for a small performance car, but headroom in the rear seats isn’t as good as in some boxier alternatives
In the front, the Hyundai i30 Fastback N is pretty much identical to the standard i30 N hatchback, so there’s plenty of space for you to stretch out if you’re tall and the sports seats come with electric adjustment as standard.
You also get adjustable lumbar support to help prevent backache during long drives and you can easily adjust the position of the steering wheel to give you an unobstructed view of the dials.
Unfortunately, things aren’t quite so comfortable in the Hyundai i30 Fastback N’s back seats. The Fastback’s sloping roofline means it’s a bit trickier to climb into the back than in the hatchback and you don’t get quite as much headroom.
At least there’s enough knee room for a tall passenger to sit behind a six-foot-tall driver, though, and the seats themselves are reasonably supportive.
Things get more cramped if you try to carry three passengers abreast, however, and the narrow, raised middle seat means tall occupants will want to avoid the central perch. Three kids won’t have quite so much to worry about, but the Hyundai i30 Fastback N’s small rear door openings mean it’s a bit tricky to lift in a large child seat. At least securing this seat won’t present any problems thanks to the Hyundai’s clearly marked Isofix anchor points with handy folding covers.
There are plenty of useful storage bins dotted about the Hyundai i30 Fastback N’s cabin to help you keep it looking neat and tidy. Each of the front door bins is large enough to carry a couple of water bottles and there’s space for a few more bits and bobs under the armrest between the front seats.
There’s a storage tray under the dashboard for your phone with a built-in USB port and 12V socket, and there’s space to squirrel away a few valuables in the Hyundai’s glovebox. You also get a pair of cupholders that are deep enough to hold hot drinks securely.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N has 450 litres of boot space – that’s around 55 litres more than you get in the hatchback version of the i30N. However, with the optional rear strut brace installed (which makes the car stiffer and more agile), the boot capacity drops to 436 litres. That’s still more than 55 litres larger than the boot you get in a VW Golf GTI, though.
Unfortunately, the numbers don’t quite tell the whole story, because the i30 Fastback N’s narrower boot opening with its raised boot lip means it isn’t particularly easy to load very heavy luggage.
You can fold the back seats down to carry much larger items, but the optional strut brace makes it very tricky to slide heavy luggage right up behind the front seats and you’ll struggle to load a bike without an extra pair of hands.
Even with the strut brace removed, there’s a significant step in the Fastback N’s boot floor that makes it more difficult to load than the boots you get in most hot hatches. You do at least get a couple of tether points to tie down bulky items and a pair of shopping hooks to stop your weekly shop rolling around on the way home.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is seriously good fun to drive and still comfortable enough to use every day, but unlike some hot hatches, you can’t get it with an automatic gearbox
Plenty of mechanical upgrades that cost extra on the standard i30 N come as standard in the Fastback model, including a fancy limited-slip differential for massive corner-exiting grip
Unlike the standard i30 N, the i30 Fastback N comes with Hyundai’s optional performance pack as standard that boosts power from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from 250hp to 275hp. You also get a variable exhaust system, limited-slip differential and an over-boost function as standard.
All these tasty mechanical upgrades mean the Hyundai i30 Fastback N will blast from 0-60mph in less than 6.1 seconds – providing you can change gear using the six-speed manual gearbox quickly enough, that is.
Unlike some hot hatches, you can’t get the Hyundai i30 Fastback N with an automatic gearbox, but it does get a clever auto-rev-matching system that blips the throttle for you when you change down for smoother gear changes. If you’d rather go about the driving heroics yourself, you can easily disable this system using a shortcut button on the steering wheel.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is just as easy to drive in town as the standard i30 Fastback. You get a decent view out through the front windows – although the narrow rear windscreen does make parking a bit of a hassle – and the controls are reasonably light so you won’t have any trouble driving it smoothly in traffic.
You get adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking as standard to help take the edge off long journeys, too.
That said, it’s certainly a little stiffer over bumps than the standard i30 Fastback, but the N model’s adaptive suspension means you can choose between softer, reasonably comfortable setups for rough roads and long drives, and firmer, sportier settings for deserted country roads.
In fact, you can adjust the way the engine, exhaust, steering, suspension, limited-slip differential and electronic stability program behaves independently from each other – so you can indulge your inner race mechanic every time you take a trip to the shops.
Even with everything in its most cosseting, the Hyundai i30 Fastback N isn’t quite as easy to live with as a VW Golf GTI, but neither is it as firm and unforgiving as a Honda Civic Type R.
There’s no shame in the Hyundai i30 Fastback N slotting itself in between these alternatives, though. It strikes an excellent balance between being just as usable as any common-or-garden i30 on a daily basis, yet its grippy limited-slip differential, perky engine and cheeky exhaust note mean it still feels special when you fancy taking the long way home from work on a Friday evening.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N’s cabin looks almost identical to the standard i30 N’s – though that’s no bad thing. It feels plush and has just the right amount of sporty touches to make it feel special