2019 Hyundai i30 N Fastback Review
Toby Hagon’s 2019 Hyundai i30 N Fastback Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: All the go-fast goodness of the i30 N but in a unique hatchback body inspired by the sleeker lines of a sedan or coupe.
2019 i30 N Fastback Specifications
Price $41,990+ORC Warranty 5 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 10,000km Safety Not rated Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo Power 202kW at 6000rpm Torque 353Nm at 1450-4700rpm Transmission 6-speed manual Drive Front-wheel drive Dimensions 4455mm (L), 1795mm (W), 1419mm (H), 2650mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1441kg Towing 1600kg Boot Space 436L Spare Space saver Fuel Tank 50L Thirst 8.0L/100km
Watch our quick spin review of the 2019 Hyundai i30 N Fastback
Sleeker body styles are big business in the luxury sphere these days, with German brands, in particular, exploiting the desire for something sportier and different.
But Hyundai is the first mainstream brand to test the water with a unique body style for the i30.
Called Fastback, it’s longer and lower than the i30 hatchback and is clearly inspired by the longer silhouette of a sedan. But it still has the functionality of a hatchback, with a liftback-style rear window.
Being sourced from Hyundai’s Czech plant (all other i30s come from Korea) it’s also a one-off model, the sporty N Fastback adding a sibling to the i30 N that in 2018 shook up the hot hatch segment traditionally dominated by Europe.
Hyundai says there are no plans for more affordable Fastback variants in Australia, something that helps with exclusivity, one of the key sales pitches for the i30 Fastback N.
What is it and how much does it cost?
There’s a single model in the Fastback range and, at $41,990, it’s $1500 more expensive than the i30 N hatchback (which recently copped a $500 price increase).
Given equipment levels are identical, it means the N Fastback comes with unique bumpers front and rear along with red highlights, something that continues inside. There’s also dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, leather trim, auto headlights, tyre pressure sensors, 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, digital radio tuning and rear parking sensors to complement the reversing camera. Snazzy 19-inch tyres are shod in Pirelli P Zero rubber, too.
It means that extra spend over the hatch is going into the look – and the fact there will be far fewer Fastbacks on the road (think exclusivity). While it’s the same width as the N hatch, that body is 120mm longer and 21mm lower. It’s also slipperier through the air, its drag co-efficient some 7 percent lower, at 0.297.
While there’s only one i30 N Fastback model, Hyundai offers a Luxury pack. For $3000 the Luxury pack is a worthwhile step, if only for the smart key entry with push button start, Qi wireless phone charging, tinted rear windows, auto wipers and electrically adjusted front seats. There’s also some suede on front seats with more side bolstering. The heated steering wheel and LED puddle lights possibly less useful, but at least reinforce the efforts Hyundai has gone to in adding some sparkle to a mainstream car.
You can also add a sunroof to that Luxury Pack for another $2000. The Fastback also has a unique colour option in the new Shadow Grey, a dark grey set off by those red highlights front and rear. Impressively, three of the five colours are standard, with the remaining two adding $495 to the price.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
While it’s sourced from a different factory to the N hatchback, the i30 N Fastback has the same sporty flavour and attention to detail. That extends to anodised red finishes surround the outer air vents, red stitching on seats and steering wheels and alloy pedals that continue the racy theme.
One of the only differences between hatch and Fastback is to the drive mode buttons mixed in with others on the steering wheel. Instead of the blue tinge to reinforce the signature Performance Blue hue of the N sub-brand, it’s more traditional white on black.
It’s all nicely done and reflective of the upmarket boy racer image evident elsewhere on the car. But it’s let down by some of the plastics on the dash and centre console, the hard, grainy finish more cheap city car than $40K-plus performance machine.
Considering the upmarket flavour oozing from every pore of the rival Volkswagen Golf GTI it’s one rare area the Hyundai doesn’t closely rival its German benchmark.
Sports front seats are snug and supportive, a handy accompaniment if you’re planning to test the cornering ability – and the sports seats step it up a notch. It’d be nice if those seats sat lower in the cabin, the high-ish stance a tad out of sync with the go-fast flavour.
Those in the rear get a fold down arm rest with cupholders, door pockets and nets on the backs of the front seats for storage. But no rear air vents. It’s certainly not as special as the front, although the finishes and materials at least add some interest.
Those in the rear also get less headroom than the hatch, the more heavily sloping roof line taking its toll on space to the point where taller people will have their heads touching the roof.
The trade off is a larger boot, the Fastback N liberating 436 litres of boot space (it’d be 450 litres except for the strut brace shaving 14kg off the total), up from 381 litres in the hatch. While there’s a 60/40 split-fold back seat, its usefulness is somewhat limited by the metal bracing between the rear wheels to stiffen the chassis and make for sharper dynamics.
What are the controls and infotainment like?
There’s plenty of i30 in the basic layout, albeit with some subtle N touches to lift things slightly. It starts with the 8.0-inch touchscreen on top of the dash, the menus and screens logical and succinct, complete with basic but easily decipherable icons.
One minor frustration is the saved list of radio station favourites, which disappears every time you select one; it means darting between your saved channels requires an extra button push each time to drag up the main menu.
Those delving further into the performance areas of the centre screen will notice lap timers and other information about the car. It’s indicative of a hot hatch that’s not just about the driving experience but also pushes some tech buttons and keeps the young’uns content with some modern data logging.
Ventilation controls are equally logical, the circular dials to adjust temperature making for easy changes on the move. Plus, those looking to explore the performance will notice two additional buttons on the steering wheel, one marked “drive mode” and the other with a pic of a chequered flag. Each allows switching between the four pre-programmed drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and N). There’s also a Custom mode that allows modification of various parameters to create your ideal setting.
What’s the performance like?
The longer Fastback body is 12kg heavier than the hatch, an insignificant number when it comes to performance in a road car.
And, indeed, there’s nothing lacking in the way the Fastback accelerates, its 202kW and 353Nm from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo identical to that in the N hatch. Mid-rev response is particularly impressive, that torque peak available from as low as 1450rpm. It can also temporarily overboost up to 378Nm, further adding to that surge of energy.
It’ll happily rev to about 6500rpm, too, although the top end pull isn’t as satisfying for most driving, the torque stealing the headlines.
Those wanting more control of what happens when can get stuck into the Custom drive mode, allowing the adjustment of throttle response, rev matching on gear changes, the limited slid differential, exhaust sound, suspension stiffness, steering weight and stability control. All up there are 1944 combinations, although four of those exist in those other pre-set modes. It means you can dial up, say, the softest suspension setting but still allow the rev matching and pop-and-crackle exhaust sound.
For now there’s only a six-speed manual, although a seven-speed dual-clutch auto is due by the end of 2019. The self-shifter has a clean action, although it’s not as direct as some from the sporty sphere. Engage the rev matching function, though, and downshifts are met with a perfect blip of the throttle for clean engagement.
Getting the power to the ground is generally easy, although there’s only so much a limited slip differential can do, the power occasionally overpowering things if you blast out of an intersection or hairpin bend.
Fuel use for the Fastback N is rated at 8.0 litres per 100km, although it’s easy to use plenty more than that if your enjoying all 202kW regularly. Like its rivals, it also calls for more expensive premium unleaded.
What’s it like on the road?
The Fastback uses the same underpinnings as the i30 hatchback, although the tuning of springs and dampers has been revised. The difference will be short-lived, though, with Hyundai planning to apply the same changes to the N hatchback throughout 2019.
Hyundai says things have been softened off, at the front in particular, with spring rates down 5 percent.
But the emphasis is still on agility and ability rather than long distance comfort, with an inherent firmness that never jars but can get bouncy on less than perfect surfaces. It’s amplified if you’ve dialled up Sport+ suspension setting that is part of the N drive mode.
Hover around triple figures on certain aggressive bitumen surfaces and tyre roar becomes an issue, the Pirelli P Zero rubber dishing up a compromise.
What’s it like on the track?
Our test also included some spirited driving at The Bend Motorsport Park east of Adelaide. It’s a fast (and long) track with many challenging corners. There are some big stops and tricky changes of direction designed to test the mettle of a race car – more so a road car.
Those Pirellis yelp like a wounded dog when punished around the smooth (and still fresh) surface of The Bend. But they cope with the punishment, only repeated hard laps heating them to the point where grip levels begin to drop.
Similarly, the (single piston) brakes stop well from speeds north of 200km/h but will ultimately reach their heat limit, retardation momentarily not as sharp. There’s some squirming in the tail as the weight transfers forwards, but it’s generally well behaved.
It’s worth remembering this is a $42K car designed primarily for road use, one that stands up impressively to the prospect of a track thrash. Few road cars outside dedicate sports cars world resist similar punishment around a track as testing as The Bend.
Does it have a spare?
There’s a space saver spare that limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h.
Can you tow with it?
The Fastback is rated to tow up to 1600kg, not that many would dare drag that much around in a car very much focused on performance.
What about ownership?
There’s a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and, impressively, Hyundai honours the warranty for those wanting to take their car for the occasional thrash around a race track. While the warranty excludes timed events and racing, it still allows you to have plenty of fun with the reassurance that failures should be covered by the warranty.
Servicing requirements and costs are identical to the i30 N hatchback; that means a check-up every 12 months or 10,000km, the latter relatively low. The first three services are $299 each while the following six fluctuate between $299 and $635.
What safety features does it have?
The Fastback benefits from the same safety features as the i30 hatchback, including seven airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain and a driver’s knee airbag), a tyre pressure monitoring system and radar cruise control.
There’s also the SmartSense safety pack that incorporates high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keeping assist and an attention alert system that monitors driving patterns of drowsiness.
It has not been independently crash tested.