Looks ace, tidy handling, 1.5-litre engine is quiet and refined, reasonably practical
Ride's too stiff, hesitant automatic gearbox, compromised rear visibility, limited line-up
What is it?
A Hyundai i30 hatchback turned into a saloon-cum-coupe. A ‘hatchalooupe’ if you will, very much in the mould of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLA. Only the Hyundai is cheaper (naturally) and arguably better looking (wait, what?).
As is typical with cars like this, the i30 Fastback is a bit lower and longer than the hatchback on which it’s based (though the wheelbase is the same). The boot is actually marginally bigger than the hatchback’s (450 plays 395-litres, seats-up) and, perhaps surprisingly, adults sat in the back have sufficient headroom. So choosing the Fastback over the hatch isn’t to totally disregard practicality. It’s a decent bit of packaging.
The i30 Fastback is only offered in N-Line and fully-fledged N specs. The former gets aggressive front and rear bumpers, 18-inch alloy wheels and sports seats that make it look a whole lot like the latter. Which is a very good thing.
The N-Line gets a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol with 48-volt mild-hybrid tech and either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Our review of the superb i30N is hidden behind these blue words.
Also new for 2020 across the i30 range (hatch, Fastback, Tourer and N) is bolder styling (a bigger grille and new head/taillights), as well as Hyundai’s latest infotainment and active safety systems.
Tempted? The i30 Fastback costs around £750 more than the equivalent i30 hatchback, from a little over £25,000. The hatch, Hyundai’s answer to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, is of course available in more specs and with greener, less powerful engines starting at around £20,000.
The Fastback has relative rarity on its side, too, accounting for just 15 per cent of i30 sales (50 per cent hatch, 35 per cent Tourer).
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Hyundai's cut-price Mercedes CLA certainly looks the business, with its N-inspired styling and swoopy coupe-like roofline. Relatively practical too, with a big boot and enough head-room (if not knee-room) for adults to sit comfortably in the back. The 1.5-litre petrol engine is punchy enough, pretty refined and economical. You'll want to stick with the standard six-speed manual instead of the DCT, which can be a bit dozy. Drives well enough, but not as much fun as a Ford Focus or Seat Leon.
The Fastback traditionally only accounts for around 15 per cent of i30 sales in the UK, so you can understand why Hyundai doesn't offer a load of different specs and engines. Still it's a pity - the option to forgo the N-Line's stiff suspension, and bring the cost down, would be especially welcome. Decent car in all and something a bit different, but likely to remain a rare sight on Britain's roads. The proper i30N isn't that much more expensive, either. You'll want to save up, trust us. Worth every penny.