I had kind of hoped the Fastback treatment would turn the Hyundai i30 N from a sensible looking little hatch into a real looker. Um, no… not really.
This track review was carried out in conjunction with MOTOR's Bang For Your Bucks 2019
If anything the end result seems a bit butt-heavy. Booty-licious? Don’t think so. In fact, the thing looks faintly like one of those jacked-up SUV coupes from one or two angles. But then so does the Cerato GT we had this year, so maybe it’s just an industry-wide shift.
But none of that alters the fact that the i30 N package is a big hitter, totally accessible to us mortals and priced right at the sharp end of things. Sharp enough for the whole i30 puzzle to shake out in third outright.
Like the hatchback version, there’s no automatic option for the N (there will be, but not until Hyundai is happy with the durability and quality of its double-clutch unit that remains in the works). That will limit the appeal for some buyers, but for the rest of us, the slick-shifting six-speed manual is a delight. The clutch is light and accurate and if you find shifting your own cogs in this car to be a chore, you’re almost certainly doing it wrong.
The same level of accessibility goes for the two-litre turbo donk, too, and while the smaller turbocharger (smaller than, say, the Renault’s) means the Hyundai isn’t all about stratospheric revs, it does serve up a hugely meaty mid-range that means overtaking is only ever a smoosh of the gas pedal away. It makes plenty of the right noises, too, with enough popping and banging on the over-run (Hyundai calls it ‘afterburn’) to keep us all entertained.
The cabin still feels big and roomy, but the rear view is a bit restricted thanks to the higher tail and sloped rear glass turning the opening into a bit of a slit in the mirror.
But the quality feel is still there even if the look is a bit more down market without the spiffed-up trimmings of Hyundai’s optional luxury pack.
MOTOR garage: i30 N long-term review conclusion
The combination of (what feels like) more rear weight and a softer set of front springs in the Fastback over the hatch, means the handling is familiar to anybody who has sampled the hatchback, but different enough to give the car its own character. Crucially, the Hyundai will still degenerate into a chattering, chuntering version of understeer on a dry track if you’ve over-cooked your entry speed.
Once the track was wet, it was always possible to get the rear of the car stepping out on lift-off and, again, that could have something to do with a rear end that is now proportionately stiffer than the front end.
That was most noticeable through the Winton sweeper where, even though the greasy surface kept speeds down, it also allowed for an earlier onset of ‘there-goes-the-tail’.
The real magic of the i30 N, meanwhile, hasn’t changed. It has an incredibly friendly, accessible feel that lets even noobs get their mitts on a fair chunk of what the car has to offer. Which is plenty.
Probably the only thing keeping the Hyundai off the higher steps on the podium is that the Fastback is a couple of grand dearer than the hatch variant. That, and the fact that two grand buys you more curves, glass and a bit more metal rather than any more outright ability.
MOTOR comparison: i30 N v Megane RS280 v Civic Type R v 308 GTi 270
It’ll be interesting to see how many take up the Fastback option and how many stick with the practicality of the original hatchback. But one thing hasn’t changed and that is, with any of the i30N variants, Hyundai is now a bona fide maker of performance cars.
That it has done so without abandoning its value-for-money philosophy is great. That it can also do so while allowing the factory warranty to cover some forms of track-day work is, frankly, amazing.
Where cheap thrills are a virtue on Bang For Your Bucks 2019
Hyundai i30 Fastback N BFYB 2019 Results - 3rd place
0-400m: 14.55sec @ 159.78km/h
Bang Index: 107.2
Bucks Index: 124.1
BFYB Index: 115.7
Bang For Your Bucks 2019 Judges' Comments
Campbell - 10th
“It has some good things to say but I struggled to get the conversation flowing.”
Cordony - =3rd
“Different suit, same robust performance.”
Morley - =5th
“Rarely cars are entertaining and practical as this one.”
Scott Newman - 3rd
“Superb. Does everything you want it to and I don’t mind the looks.”
Luffy - =4th
“It has impressive grip considering the very wet conditions. The front end has heaps of grip when you clear the brake and roll through apexes. The rear end is probably the most stable of the front-drivers. The engine and gearbox are really good as well, but it was a little too wet to really push and find the overall limit. But it is a really good, fun car.”
2019 HYUNDAI I30 FASTBACK N SPECS
BODY: 5-door, 5-seat liftback
ENGINE: 1998cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
BORE/STROKE: 86.0 x 86.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 9.5:1
POWER: 202kW @ 6000rpm
TORQUE: 353Nm @ 1450-4700rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
SUSPENSION: struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers (f); multi-links, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (r)
BRAKES: 345mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 314mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
WHEELS: 19.0 x 8.0-inch (f/r)
TYRES: Pirelli P Zero (HN), 235/35 R19 (f/r)
Bang For Your Bucks 2019
The Contenders, Judges & Criteria
11 of the hottest new fast cars under $100K roll up to take on our famous value-for-money formula. Which will be number 1?