Aside from the obvious coupe-like rear, the Fastback adds a sunroof and slightly more boot space over the hatch. Overall, the i30 N Fastback is really, really cool.
The letter ‘N’ stands for both ‘Namyang’ – Hyundai’s Research & Development Centre – and ‘Nürburgring’, where the i30 N was put through its paces for testing and development purposes.
Despite the fact that it’s still only available with a manual transmission, has the i30 N now become a serious option for the ‘sophisticated’ sports car buyer?
Standing out from the crowd
The Fastback sits 8mm lower than the hatch, but still wears a subtle body kit emphasized with touches of red both inside and out. It comes well equipped with performance-enhancing features like electronically controlled suspension, 18-inch ventilated front brakes, and 17-inch rear brakes mounted into 19-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile Pirelli P-Zero 235/35 tyres.
Something we’re seeing less and less of on new cars – a manually operated hand brake – is also included, as well as a Torque Vectoring System, and a handful of drive modes that are operated by buttons mounted on the steering wheel. These buttons allow you customize your engine and suspension settings, and even the car’s throttle response. We don’t recommend switching the stability control off entirely, though the option is there.
There’s also an electronically controlled limited slip differential, plus more tangible items like leather and suede front seats, and a bespoke instrument cluster.
Launch control, reinforced front suspension, a stronger front subframe, and even a visible rear suspension brace all help maximise the i30 N Fastback’s performance.
The icing on the cake is the active variable exhaust system, which emits playful pops and crackles from the muffler when in Sport or Custom modes. Rev-matching automatically blips the throttle on downshifts to synchronize the rotational speeds of the engine and transmission, optimizing braking performance.
The character of the delivery really suits a bendy NZ backroad, where the whole plot really comes together. The torque helps to haul you out of corners, the chassis feels nicely balanced, the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and easy to use, and the brakes deliver just the right amount of power and feedback.
The downside? The steering feels a little too heavy and almost a touch under-assisted at times, but some drivers may find that refreshing in an automotive world where electronic over-assistance seems to be the norm.
Slip into those supportive sport seats and start scrolling through what that touchscreen offers, and you’ll find a lap timer, acceleration timer, and a G-Force display. The claimed fuel consumption of 8.0L/100km may be on the low side for any driver who’s likely to play with all this stuff, but that’s not why you’d buy an “N” car anyway.
We did notice that the sunroof addition lowers the roof line and found that if you are taller than 5’10 your head may brush the lining occasionally when driving. Due to its rigidity, the sunroof can also creak when entering a driveway (or something similar) at an angle. Just think how much more fun driving in Auckland traffic would be if the car was offered with a DSG transmission…
The Hyundai i30 N Fastback joins Mercedes-Benz who have recently added a boot to their A-Class hatch and turned it into a sedan, but unlike the i30 N is not available in its racy AMG guise. Alternative hot hatches can be found in the VW Golf GTi and Seat Leon Cupra, both of which are priced under $58k and feature DSG transmissions - but we don’t think they’re quite as cool as the i30 N Fastback!
At a glance
Hyundai i30 N Fastback
2.0L 16-valve turbo
ANCAP safety rating
Not yet tested
Power and Torque
202kW at 6,000rpm, 353Nm from 1,500 to 4,700rpm (378Nm on overboost)
Six-speed manual (with rev-matching function)
436L (seats up), 1,337L (seats down)
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
- Seven airbags
- Auto headlights
- Rain sensing wipes
- Reversing camera with front/rear park assist
- 2 ISOFIX and three child seat anchor points
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
Find out more on how the AA can help you when buying a new car:
- AA Money - aa.co.nz/money
- AA Insurance - aa.co.nz/insurance
- AA Car Reviews - aa.co.nz/car-reviews
- AA Running Cost Reports - aa.co.nz/runningcosts
AA Advice - We've got this!