Hyundai i30 Fastback N review: Hands-on
Is every car better as a fastback?
Back in May, we had the chance to review the i30 N hatchback. Needless to say, we were impressed – not only by the vehicle itself but by the value for money too.
This week, we had the opportunity to test the i30 Fastback N and we took it with both hands.
Our test vehicle had a few options including "Mica" paint, which costs $495, and the Luxury package for $3,000.
With a starting price of $41,990, you are paying a $1,500 dollar premium for the fastback, but what else separates the i30 N and the i30 Fastback N?
What is the N?
It stands for Namyang, Korea, where the global R&D centre for Hyundai is located. As you can imagine, it also pays tribute to Nurburgring, the location of Hyundai's European test centre and where this vehicle was turned into the tarmac-chewing machine it is today.
How is the fastback different?
It might appear there are only subtle differences between the hatchback and the fastback. While some of the bodywork and powertrains were carried over by Hyundai boffins, the team didn't just put the hatch roof under a hydraulic press and call it a day.
If you opt for the fastback version of the i30 N, you will benefit from a 7% reduction in aerodynamic drag, a fresh suspension tune that includes softer springs than those in the hatchback – by around 5%. This is said to help turn into corners and allow for better mid-corner adjustability, among other things.
The i30N Fastback N is 12kgs heavier than its predecessor; however, this weight sits over the rear axle, which improves the weight distribution of the fastback when compared to the hatch.
An extra 55 litres of luggage space is also an added benefit of the fastback body style, with a total of 436 available. With the seats down, it comes to 1,337 litres, but with the cage in the back, it still isn't as accessible as it could be.
On the road with the i30 Fastback N
Inside the fastback, everything is very much the same as the hatchback. Push button starting gets the car up and running with a nice little burble, hinting that this is going to be a fun car.
First and foremost, the suspension set-up on the i30 is designed to lap the Nurburgring as fast as possible, not the streets of South-west Sydney – so it is firm. You're going to feel a lot of what you are driving over, but in a vehicle with racing intentions, that is to be expected.
You'll soon forget that though as you go about putting its various driving modes to use. Not to mention that it is always great to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that still has a proper manual gearbox.
Shifting between gears is a fairly easy task, with the nicely weighted clutch offering the ideal resistance under foot. I find if a clutch pedal is too light, it feels murky and removes any sensation of a positive gear change. Shifting into "N" mode also activates rev matching, which produces smoother shifts again, and with your right foot in close proximity to the carpet, it will let out some fantastic pops and bangs. The i30 Fastback N has a very pleasant soundtrack.
Switching between gears has been aided by the inclusion of carbon synchromesh rings, which allow for quicker, smoother shifts and reduced effort.
As mentioned, the suspension has been altered to improve cornering on the track, and while we can't speak to that, we can say that there is plenty of lateral bolstering in the seats to hold you firmly in place.
The interior consists of a combination of hard and soft plastics as well as faux suede. It has been executed pretty well, but it still has a definite Hyundai characteristic feel to it – not that this is a bad thing.
In the back, headroom is a bit tighter than the hatchback, thanks to the sloping roof which shaves 28mm from the top of the car.
Under the bonnet is the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine as the N hatch. It produces the same 202kW of power, 353Nm of torque and subsequent torque-steer too.
This means that as you hold on for dear life and duel with the wheel to keep the wheels in a straight line, it will hit 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.
Which would you prefer – the hatch or the fastback?
The fastback. Not because of any of the technical changes or aerodynamic differences, but plainly because the i30 Fastback N we had, in that spec, in that colour, looked fantastic.
I thought the red looked good when we had the hatch, but the grey blows it out of the water with that tailing roofline.
The i30 Fastback N is a car that will make you smile. Its looks are first-class, makes epic sounds, and pins you back with your foot down. If you are looking for a car with all those attributes, I can't think of much better for the price.
It is worth keeping in mind though that the ride will be firm, and space in the back is a bit cramped, so make sure you check these out when you have a test drive, especially if you are moving people around regularly or are after a plush ride.