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
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is a great choice if you’re looking for a mid-size performance car but aren’t sold on the hatchback body shape.
In fact, the i30 Fastback N has no close alternatives as of yet and only the more expensive Audi S3 Saloon is similar in size and idea. The Fastback N is the second performance car in the i30 range after the N hatchback which was released early in 2018.
Thankfully, it’s really easy to spot a 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 it’s 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.
That brace across the boot isn’t an issue if you don’t carry too much luggage, but if you want to fold the seats for extra space, the brace acts as an obstruction, so it’s worth planning ahead before going to IKEA with your i30 Fastback N.
As for passenger space, you can get comfortable up front in the i30 Fastback N without much fuss thanks to standard electric seat adjustment but if you’re over six-feet your head might brush the roof.
Things get worse in the back. 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. That said, kids would have no problems in the back seats and it’s easy to fit a child seat thanks to visible and easily accessible isofix mounting points.
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is a great-looking alternative to the slightly staid Golf GTI
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. It has an overboost feature which gives you some extra oomph for a few seconds at a time – perfect for overtaking.
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. Otherwise, expect about 35-40mpg in everyday driving.
From a practical perspective, such fuel economy isn’t great, but show the i30 Fastback N some corners and you quickly forget about anything to do with saving fuel. The i30 Fastback N is one of those cars that aren’t exactly a wild ride around corners but instead work with you to explore your limits. Put simply, the i30 Fastback N is incredibly easy to drive fast.
To achieve such prowess and ease of use, the i30 Fastback N has a few tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, and what arguably makes the most difference, is the electronic lockable front differential. It’s a fairly complicated system, but it gives you the sort of grip when coming out of corners that you’d only expect from four-wheel drive cars. Combine that with the auto-blip feature which matches revs when shifting gears and from the outside it looks like you’re the greatest driver ever, but in reality it’s the car doing most of the work. Your friends will never know.
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 i30 Fastback N for long commutes. There’s also an individual setting for the driving modes and the best combination we found was normal steering and suspension paired with sport engine and exhaust note.
All in all, it’s no surprise that the i30 Fastback N is a great performance five-door coupe. It has everything that’s good about the i30 N hatchback, but wraps it in a more exciting-looking body, while still at a good price. What’s not to like?