WHEN THE Hyundai i30 N hatchback was unveiled in 2016, car enthusiasts around the world collectively raised an eyebrow because, well… Hyundai hadn’t built a proper hot hatch before.
To everyone’s surprise (and delight), the i30 N turned out to be a great car, combining just the right amount of speed and usability, making it a great alternative to the benchmark VW Golf GTI.
After the successful launch of the hatch, it was only a matter of time before Hyundai applied the N treatment to other models in its line up. And here’s N model number two; still an i30, but this time in Fastback (coupé) form.
Looking at it from the front, you won’t notice any difference to the i30 N hatchback. It has the same aggressive yet understated look.
Moving around the side though, the overall shape of the i30 Fastback N is sleeker and altogether classier-looking than your humdrum hatchback. View the i30 Fastback N from the back and it’s pretty easy to spot the Mercedes C-class coupé design influence. The cheeky lip spoiler at the back completes a look that’s sporty but not as shouty as a Civic Type R, for example.
The classy-yet-sporty theme continues inside. Where a Renault Mégane RS tries to impress you with multi-coloured mood lighting and a red stripe on the steering wheel, the i30 Fastback N has a more mature overall look, without losing out on sporty touches such as its metal pedals and discrete red stitching.
Think of it as a BMW M interior from the early 2000s – to some it may look a tad underwhelming, but to others it might be a breath of fresh air among rivals that look like they’ve driven through a well-stocked branch of Halfords.
There is more to this comparison with BMW M than the interior – the person who is currently in charge of Hyundai research and development, and who is arguably directly responsible for the success of the N brand, was pinched straight from BMW’s sport division.
Albert Biermann joined BMW in 1983, just three years after BMW’s first proper M car, the M535i, and worked there for over 30 years, helping develop some of the most iconic M cars to come from the Bavarian brand.
He doesn’t seem to be slowing down because the i30 Fastback N is exactly the sort of car that you’d expect from an old-school performance car fan. Put simply, the Hyundai wants to impress you with its abilities rather than scare you, making it an incredibly easy car to drive fast.
Not only that, but the Hyundai seems to have all the performance features you’d want already fitted from the factory and not hidden somewhere down an endless options list. As standard you get the 275hp version of Hyundai’s 2.0-litre petrol engine, sticky P-Zero tyres wrapped around 21-inch alloy wheels, bigger brakes, a strengthening brace in the boot and a limited-slip front differential.
The latter is arguably the biggest reason for the i30 Fastback N’s performance because it gives you the sort of corner-exit grip that is impossible to achieve with a normal differential.
Compared to the hatchback, the N Fastback appears to have very similar performance, but in reality, everything in the N Fastback feels like it’s turned down a notch. That’s not to say it’s less engaging, but it simply doesn’t shout that it’s a sports car as much as the hatchback does. This means that the N Fastback can be fun and enjoyable in the most aggressive driving mode, but in comfort mode, it becomes a quieter and more relaxed motorway companion than the i30 N hatchback.
Now we come to the hard-to-swallow bit: the price. The Hyundai i30 Fastback N costs a little less than £30,000 and that puts it directly into VW Golf GTI territory. Compared to the Golf, the i30 Fastback N arguably looks more interesting but can’t match the VW on interior space or desirability.
Also, depending on your needs, you can spend a bit more money and get yourself a Honda Civic Type R which is on a whole new level when it comes to performance.
However, if the looks of the Civic are too much for you (and who’d blame you), the Hyundai i30 Fastback N remains a nice package of abilities wrapped in an eye-catching body.
Hyundai i30 Fastback N rivals
Honda Civic Type R (click to view at carwow)
Renault Megane R.S. (click to view at carwow)
Volkswagen Golf GTI (click to view at carwow)