What is it?
Replace the hatch body on Hyundai’s firecracker i30 N with something smooth and subtle, a tad longer, lower and more aerodynamic and you have a Fastback N, a car designed to gladden the heart of many a motoring enthusiast.
Looks apart, it’s also kitted out with a suspension and steering system honed by experts on the Nurburgring’s famed Nordschleife, it has more cargo space than the hatch, is infinitely switchable to various driving modes — and its five-year warranty even covers ‘non-competitive’ track day use, including the use semi-slick tyres.
What’s it cost?
The little gem is priced from $41,990 and can also be personalised with a $3000 luxury pack or another $2000 if you want to add a sunroof.
Under the bonnet is the same 202kW/353Nm 2.0-litre motor as fitted to the N hatch which drives the front wheels through a slick 6-speed manual and employs an electro-mechanical limited slip diff.
It also has launch control and an overboost capability that adds an extra 37Nm of torque at full throttle for up to 18 seconds.
It’s a high-spec five-door that Hyundai call a coupe and it comes with comprehensive instrumentation on a 4.2-inch info screen, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, alloy sports pedals, sports front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB connectivity and satnav.
Plus, for serious pilots, an N race computer and dash panel-mounted shift lights.
There’s also red stitching and a bit of red trim outside, and oh yes, open the hatch and you’ll see a sturdy brace bar between the rear suspension pillars.
The $3000 luxury pack adds front parking sensors, LED courtesy and puddle lamps, power folding side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, electric seat adjustment, leather and suede trim, auto-dimming rear view mirror, heating for the front seats and steering wheel, smart key entry and push-button start, rear tinted glass and wireless phone charging.
Sounds like a good value pack.
Accommodation is pretty good for four, and True Love, one of those long-tall-sally lasses, was more than happy ensconced in the body hugging seats and also had plenty of legroom.
Not bad in the back either.
The test car came in Performance Blue, specific to this model. It drew acclaim everywhere.
But you can also have it in Polar White, Phantom Black, Engine Red or Micron Grey.
What’s it go like?
It’s a delightful thing to drive — in any of its multiple modes — and that neat gearshift and exhaust pop brought back memories of my early sports car days.
The car runs on Pirellis specially designed for it, which, with the magic new suspension setup, provide exceptional cling and immense joy.
And bear in mind Hyundai’s success in the FIA World Touring Car Cup, where it took the drivers’ and teams’ championships with its dominant i30 N TCR race car.
Fuel consumption seems irrelevant in a car of this calibre, but the factory claims an average 8.0L/100km and we ended up happily smiling with 9.9.
For serious driving, we hopped out and handed the keys to tarmac targa whiz Dr Rob Bobla:
“Take two on Hyundai’s sport N range is the Fastback, a slinkier, smooth-lined model with the same underpinnings as the flagship hatch.
“Every corner of it has been thought out by the best in the business. Head of research and development for the N goes deep into Prodrive hierarchy, which motorsport fans will know means multiple world rally championships.
“All aspects in every department are meticulously covered for an overall good time.
“The level of tech in this car is excellent.
‘With three drive modes available to scroll through on the 8.0-inch screen, the Normal setting gives clues to the sportiness without any harsh thunks over rough stuff. The seats hold you firmly while everything is handled firmly but compliantly.
“Switch to Sport and instantly notice the suspension tighten up and the exhaust note sharpen, as does the responsiveness. It quickly makes you aware of the high level of competency you need to explore the limits it’s capable of. After a few short bursts there is undeniable evidence that it is quick.
‘By selecting Custom you can change a multitude of settings for: suspension, ESP diff control, exhaust note and engine tuning. This comes in the form of normal, sport and sport+ options.
“It may take a few minutes to do and, depending on the road, may need to be adjusted to fully exploit the car’s full potential.
“You can go from a bumpy piece of road with a softer damper setting to a stiff setting for a racetrack and the Fastback N will still hold firing out of the blocks.
“Very few vehicles have as much ability to adaptively morph and control the external conditions like the Fastback N.
‘The Pirelli P Zero tyres on 19-inch wheels are so good they can begin to defy what is possible from a front drive hatch.
‘The price is right too at $42K, and a coupled with a five-year warranty it is a bit of a no brainer. This car will make you Batman in your driveway or at the lights.
‘Still thinking of a Golf GTI?
‘The Hyundai i30 N will whop it any day of the week and maybe twice on Sundays at the track.
‘There’s also a low cost lifetime capped-price servicing plan.
What we like?
- The looks
- Technical excellence
- Generous warranty
What we don’t like?
- Nothing comes to mind
The bottom line?
Worthy of a standing ovation. It’s the most rounded and sexiest hot hatch of the moment.
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Hyundai i30 Fastback N, priced from $41,990