Paul Horrell’s 2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review with specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

IN A NUTSHELL More choice for the big selling i30 range. The fastback is a new style-centric body; the N Line is a hatch with some of the go-faster look (not the go-faster ability) of the brilliant i30 N.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback and i30 N-Line Specifications (European spec)

Price N/A Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 1.4L petrol turbo Power 140kW at 6000rpm Torque 242Nm at 1500rpm Transmission 6-speed manual 7-speed DCT auto Drive front-wheel drive Body 4455mm (l Fastback), 4340 (l N Line); 1795mm (w exc mirrors); 1425mm (h Fastback), 1455 (h N Line) Turning circle 10.6m Towing weight 1400kg (braked), 600kg (unbraked) Kerb weight 1300kg (manual) Seats 5 Fuel tank 50 litres Spare Space saver Thirst 5.6-5.8 l/100km combined cycle

The i30 has been a solid success since it was fully renewed a year ago. So now it can justify an expansion of the range. Two fresh versions have arrived, but they’ve a lot in common so we’re looking at both in this review.

What are the Hyundai i30 Fastback and Ni-Line models?

The i30 Fastback is an additional body style. The rear end is stretched, and the roof lowered by 25mm and tapered away. Hyundai uses the phrase ‘five-door coupe’, an attempt to make you think of upmarket metal such as the BMW 4-series Gran Coupe. And if you squint at its rounded and smoothed-off backside, there are strong hints of Mercedes’ coupes here.

At the front, the grille has been lowered a mite compared with where it sits on the regular i30 hatch, but otherwise the bonnet and wings are the same. So’s the interior. The Fastback has slightly lower and stuffer suspension than the base-model hatch, and bigger standard wheels too.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

The other new version is the N Line. This is an attempt to bask in the glow of the superb i30 N hot hatch. Outside it has the i30 N’s deep front and rear bumpers, and twin exhausts. The wheels are 18-inch items with sports tyres and twin exhausts, and the suspension and steering have been recalibrated too, though of course they’re a lot less extreme than in the full-fat hot-hatch.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

We tested both with the European-spec 1.4-litre turbo engine. Locally, Hyundai has confirmed Australia will receive the i30 Fastback N and while it hasn’t confirmed the i30 N-Line yet, it’s likely we’ll see this model Down Under given the success of the i30 in this country.

What’s the interior and practicality like?

We’ve politely grumbled before about visuals of the i30’s cabin in some of our earlier reviews. In these more up-market versions, the deficiencies stand out even more.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

Look, it’s not a bad place to be. It’s accurately made. The instruments and controls, and central screen too, are easy to use and clear. There’s enough room and storage. And the standard kit list is generous. So what are we moaning about? The issue is a lack of flair and richness. Little about the shape or decor of the dash makes you look twice, and there’s too much hard-feeling and cheap-looking plastic. If the i30 wants tackle the Golf, and we guess that’s the ambition  of these more expensive versions, then that’s a stumbling block.

That said, the N Line’s bolstered (pictured above), pinstriped sports seats make a difference to the look of the place, and even more of a difference to the way you feel. A sports gearknob helps too.

In the Fastback, there are one or two small extra touches including a hinged lid over the USB socket/charge pad area, and a sliding lid in the cup-holders. They sit next to an electric park brake, whereas the N Line has a manual job, ready for carpark skids.

Vents and reading lights are provided in the rear of the Fastback. But it’s not all great for the people using them. The sloping roof robs headroom significantly for adults, though legroom is as adequate as in the i30 hatch. But if you’ve small kids, you’ll be grateful for the Fastback’s bigger boot: 450 litres (with space saver spare) versus 395 for the hatch.

What are the controls and infotainment like?

It’s the regular Hyundai/Kia system in here. This means an eight-inch touch-screen on the dash centre. It’s well-laid out and easy to use, and has handy shortcut buttons. But the graphics aren’t the glossiest.

Sensibly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included even in the versions that don’t have built-in navigation. So assuming you have a data connection, you can always get around, check live traffic and dictate SMS by voice, and stream music. This phone mirroring is well-integrated too – you can split the screen to show both the track your phone is playing and the car’s native navigation. That apparently simple task is still beyond Volvo’s fancy system, among others.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

The same screen can be used to show climate settings if you want, No need though, as there are proper hardware climate knobs and buttons to do the heavy lifting.

The stereo doesn’t carry any external branding and sure enough the sound isn’t the very highest of fi. But it’s OK.

What’s the performance like?

The 1.4-litre engine tested here is actually from a newer family than the 1.6 turbo in the Oz-market i30, and has just 10kW less despite its 200cc smaller capacity. The 1.4 is a capable engine, and will rev to 6500 cleanly where many rivals constrict their red-lines to 6000. Turbo lag seldom rears its ugly head. The noise isn’t any too inspiring, but it’s an engine that does the job well.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

Both N Line and Fastback can be had with a 7-speed DCT, and it’s a smooth one. Auto mode mostly does what you want it do do. If not, well it’s easy to over-ride by paddles. The manual alternative is a slick enough six-speeder. Both transmissions have a long top gear ratio, for cruising around 2000rpm at 100km/h.

The steering is rather ‘electric’ feeling – you don’t get much authentic sense of the road beneath the tyres. Otherwise the news is good.

What are they like on the road?

Both these cars have the multi-link suspension that’s fitted to the Premium SR in Australia. The body itself doesn’t roll much in corners, and the chassis soaks up lumpy roads without letting them upset the cornering. It’s similarly composed under hard braking, too.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

The N Line is more stiffly sprung and damped than the Fastback, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it any more. On a testing road loop – bumpy, twisty, full of dips and crests and surprises, it felt like it was trying too hard. The Fastback rolls and pitches a little more, but it feels fluent and if anything a little more playful, better communicating with the driver.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

There’s not a lot in it for speed, as they both have the same tyre size, though different types, sports Michelins on the N Line. Neither is there much to choose between them for ride or harshness. The Fastback is a little more supple, but the N Line feels more tied down over fast undulations. Road noise is no worse than moderate in either of them.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review

They’re both fun then, it’s just that they strike a slightly different emphasis. I found myself preferring the Fastback as an overall package, because its suspension and handling are better balanced for the engine.

What about safety features?

There are loads. The versions we drove came as standard in Europe with what Hyundai calls SmartSense. Here’s the official list in all its acronym-festooned glory: Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW);  Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Lane Change Assist (LCA);  Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS);  Driver Attention Alert (DAA);  Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA); Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go.

There’s also a reversing camera, which doesn’t seem to qualify as Smart Sense but if it stops you reversing over the sleeping cat or infinitely worse a small human then you’ll think it smart enough. Meanwhile, if that little lot doesn’t keep you out of trouble, remember the i30 has a five-star ANCAP rating.


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About Author

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.

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