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Driven: Hyundai i30 Fastback. Image by Hyundai UK.

Driven: Hyundai i30 Fastback
One week with an i30 Fastback leaves us impressed, but the regular hatchback is just as good.

 



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Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.4 Premium SE

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: looks good, drives ever-so-slightly better than the hatch, has a big boot with the rear seats up

Not so good: not that thrilling to steer, rear-seat headroom compromised, would a regular i30 be just as good...?

Key Facts

Model tested: Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.4 T-GDi Premium SE manual
Price: i30 Fastback range from 20,435; 1.4 T-GDi Premium SE from 24,325, car as tested 24,910
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door coupe-hatchback
CO2 emissions: 134g/km (VED Band 131-150: 205 in year one, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 49.6mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: 140hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 242Nm at 1,500rpm
Boot space: 450-1,351 litres

Our view:

If there's one thing the admirably capable, latest Hyundai models need, it's a little bit of added pizzazz. Some of that is coming through now, either in the form of vehicles with either striking or just outright handsome looks - these being the Kona crossover and Santa Fe seven-seat SUV respectively - or simply something as magnificent and awe-inspiring as the i30 N hot hatch.

What this car does, the i30 Fastback, is try to offer some extra visual chutzpah, in the form of that sloping rear, while promising a sharper drive than the regular i30 hatchback as well. This is because the Fastback rides 5mm lower and has 15 per cent stiffer springs than the regular five-door, which certainly bodes well for the next 'N' high-performance product that's incoming, the i30 N Fastback, which we've already driven as a prototype and which we're due to drive early in 2019.

So one week with a high-ranking Premium SE Fastback with the 1.4-litre T-GDi petrol rounded off our test schedule for 2018. There are no diesel choices in the Fastback range, so it's this 140hp/242Nm engine or the smaller 1.0-litre, 120hp, three-cylinder unit, although as it's only 790 for the more powerful four-pot motor with a manual 'box (an auto 1.4 T-GDi is only another 940 or so on top of this), you might as well make the step up to the 1.4. As tested, our car was 24,910, the only option being metallic Micron Grey paint for 585.

It's a good-looking car, the i30 Fastback. The sloping rear gets rid of some of the more derivative styling memes of the hatchback model, so there's less chance you can accuse Hyundai of copying European manufacturers' designs. The interior is good too, generously equipped and reasonably well-finished, with a slightly larger boot than the hatchback too. However, as much as the carmaker has scalloped out the headlining in the back row and tried its best to preserve interior space, it really isn't as accommodating for rear-seat passengers as the i30 hatch. In fact, four-blokes-up on a lengthy return trip to the Olympic Park in East London, two of the taller occupants complained of either having to hunch their shoulders or sit with a crooked back while in the rear. Hmm.

To drive, it's also very much like the hatchback, but we will say there is just enough extra tautness to the way it corners, steers and rides that suggests maybe Hyundai's claims of it being a more involving machine than the regular i30 are not as far-fetched as they might seem. Granted, it's in no way completely transformed in the road-dynamics stakes, but the steering seems to have a touch more bite and feel in the corners, the body stays that tiny bit flatter through faster bends, the quickly controlled up-down-up movements of the Fastback over large compressions speak of well-judged suspension. Yet it doesn't sacrifice any of the hatchback's geniality, the ride being very good and wind noise suitably suppressed. Shame there's a bit too much road roar in the cabin, then.

Overall, the i30 Fastback proved a likeable enough companion across 350 miles, during which time it managed to average more than 40mpg with a best of 41.8mpg recorded while travelling up the M11, M25, A1 and A616. Nevertheless, we think with the non-N models, maybe the hatchback makes most sense. It's only 500 cheaper than the Fastback, version-for-version, but the rear space and the shape of its (admittedly smaller) boot will probably be better for the sort of people who just need easy practicality, over and above some difficult-to-perceive notion of sharper handling. However, the i30 Fastback N is a different matter - might it be even better than the gobsmacking i30 N hatch? We're very, very keen to find out.

Alternatives:

Citroen C4 Cactus: if you want a distinctive-looking vehicle that isn't a hatchback but is a hatchback but isn't (if you get our drift), the Citroen might be a good bet... except the facelift made it dull and odd to drive. Shame.

Peugeot 308: very straightforward handsomeness and one of the cars that the hatchback i30 is said to resemble. There's no French analogue for Hyundai's Fastback but the Pug's more interesting interior and finer engines might seal the deal.

Volkswagen Golf: the prestige choice in the class. Not terribly exciting, but terribly well-executed in every regard. Interior finishing and refinement of the Golf are both a clear step up from the i30 Fastback.


Matt Robinson - 21 Dec 2018









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2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback drive. Image by Hyundai.








 

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