Hyundai I30 Fastback 2.0T GDi N Performance 5dr
Of course the Fastback doesn’t quite have the performance to match its N-Lite looks – under the bonnet is a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 158bhp and 187lb ft for a 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds (8.8 for the auto). Said engine drives the front axle only and is also available in the i30 hatchback, but again only in combination with N-Line spec.
It’s a quiet and relatively refined engine, even at high revs. Doesn’t sound awful either. Performance is adequate, nothing more. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system means super smooth stop/start and engine-off coasting in the Fastback’s Eco mode (to which it irritatingly defaults when you start up). We saw over 40mpg (versus a claimed 47.1mpg for the auto) on a mixed 100-mile route, which is impressive.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but for an extra £1,200 you can have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The auto’s gearchanges are smooth and swift, but like a lot of autos nowadays it’s hesitant off the mark (which is especially frustrating at busy junctions and roundabouts), eager to change into higher gears and a bit reluctant to kickdown unless you bury the throttle in the bulkhead. Pity, given the strength of the i30N’s new eight-speed DCT.
Annoyingly there are no wheel-mounted paddles, but you can shift manually by knocking the gear lever to one side and pulling for downshifts and pushing for upshifts. Should be the other way around.
Couple of other quirks we’re attributing to the auto gearbox – it feels like there’s a little dead spot at the top of the accelerator pedal. You’ll notice it feathering the throttle in 20mph or 30mph zones, trying to stick to the limit. And when you’re crawling along in traffic on the brakes – we’re talking 2 or 3mph – the stop/start sometimes cuts in all of a sudden and brings the car to an abrupt halt. Your passengers will not like this.
So with all that in mind we’d suggest sticking with the self-shifter. We haven’t sampled it yet, but it ought to make the car feel a bit brighter and more energetic. Besides, the additional cost of the auto nudges the Fastback N-Line much closer to the price of the actual N.
The i30N is one of the most entertaining hot hatchbacks you can buy at any price. And the regular i30 is pretty good too. There’s certainly fun to be had here, but it’s not as interactive as a Ford Focus or agile as the new Seat Leon. It steers well, once you figure out how to turn off the lane assist, and doesn’t roll all that much. The N-Line’s stiffer suspension means the ride is firmer than we’d like, but not so stiff you’ll think you’re driving the fully-fledged N.
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