You’re one of those drivers who reckon they’ve outgrown a hot hatch and a country mile away from buying an SUV
Car reviewed: Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance
But – isn’t there always a ‘but’? – you still want to have fun and feel that shove in the back as the accelerator hits the floor.
Well, there’s possibly a very acceptable compromise available in the shape of Hyundai’s somewhat unheralded i30N Fastback.
Beneath the unexotic designation lies a thrusting, rorty rocket that can keep pace with a Porky and outrun a Golf GTi. It’s not quite in Type R territory, but not so far behind.
It closely resembles its Hatchback brother that preceded it and won countless accolades from petrolheads and mags alike. With similar running gear and a gutsy 276bhp, 2.0litre, 4cyl turbo engine, it despatches 62mph in below six seconds, putting it among the elite.
Several inches longer than the Hatchback, it looks graceful and well balanced with a dash of menace thanks to its bulging haunches, deep red-tipped front spoiler and well-filled wheel arches. There’s also an exaggerated rear spoiler, diffuser, and large bore twin exhaust pipes.
What’s more, Hyundai has retained the five-door styling, meaning it’s immensely practical, boasting a huge 450litre boot. A strengthened strut across the rear platform impedes loading somewhat but adds rigidity to the body and benefits handling and cornering.
A bit of fine-tuning to the power plant and the chassis mean it’s a bit more refined and feels more long-legged and comfortable than its Hatchback brother.
Fire it up and there’s an aggressive bark. Response to the throttle is rapid and the dual-clutch eight-speed auto box cuts through the ratios in little more than a blink of the eye. Fortunately, the dynamics and handling set-up easily match the pace.
Full power can provoke some steering tug as the 35 profile rubber on 19-inch alloys struggles to bite into the Tarmac. No problem in the dry conditions of our loan, but on a damp or greasy road, it could be an issue.
Steering is quick with just over two turns lock to lock, and there’s reasonable feel passed back to the driver, almost a novelty these days! The lock, however, isn’t exactly generous and car park manoeuvres can be somewhat laborious.
The ride is firm even when the drive mode is set to Eco or Normal. Maybe too firm for those unaccustomed to performance cars. Switch to Sport or N mode – buttons on the steering wheel – and it stiffens still further, the synthesised exhaust snarl gets louder and the responses become quicker.
Although the Fastback revs freely and keenly towards the red, it has impressive torque from 1,400rpm to 4,700rpm, making it a relaxing and quick cross country machine that doesn’t always demand too much from the driver.
Noise levels are toward the higher end under full power but relatively subdued when cruising off-throttle.
The cabin, understandably, is very similar to that of the Hatchback. Smart and workmanlike, it has such luxuries as electrically adjustable sports seats (hugely comfortable), heated steering wheel and stitched leather seating.
It’s not, however, as classy as Golf GTi, with a fair bit of hard plastic on view and an abundance of dark hews.
If you fall victim to responding to the lure of its abundant acceleration, economy naturally suffers a tad. Even so, we were able to nudge the 30mpg mark over some uninhibited cross country journeys. More leisurely running will see around the 34mpg mark.
Full marks to Hyundai for gate-crashing the hot hatch market with focus and determination. The Fastback’s coupe-like styling adds a touch more elegance and practicality to the N line-up.
A fully paid up petrolhead (and diesel/electric too!), Jonathan has had columns in national daily titles (Daily and Sunday Express), edited and written for motor mags and currently concentrates on websites. He has tested cars across the globe and driven many on Europe’s major race tracks. His career began as a trainee journalist in Chester and he now lives near Cambridge. A former Pirelli Motoring Journalist of the year award winner.