The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is a car that everybody asks about?
Their second question is usually: can you get it with an auto? (sometime next year, Hyundai says).
Fastback N offers the same red hot performance as the i30 N hatch, but dressed in very different clothes.
In fact, Hyundai claims the fastback design offers a 7 per cent reduction in aerodynamic drag, so in theory it’s faster.
It also has a different suspension tune — well, d’oh?
Hyundai describes the car as “involving, controlled and comfortable, and equally at home on the track and the road”.
That’s a pretty fair summary, although we don’t get to the track much these days.
What’s it cost?
The Hyundai i30 Fastback N is priced from $41,990 — $1500 more than its sibling the i30N hatch.
There’s also a couple of add-on packs available: Luxury Pack for $3000 and Luxury Pack with Panoramic Sunroof, $5000.
See details below.
Performance features include an active variable exhaust system, electronically controlled adaptive suspension, electro-mechanical limited-slip differential and a launch control function.
It’s fitted with 19-inch alloys and specially developed 235/35 profile Pirelli P-Zero HN tyres, along with an aerodynamically functional body kit.
Inside you get sports front seats, red stitching and highlights, plus leather steering wheel, alloy sports pedals, N race computer and instrument panel-mounted shift lights.
The front axle gets new springs that are 5 percent softer than the hatch, with revised dampers that now feature a rebound spring, and longer, softer bump stops.
The front anti-roll bar diameter is also 0.8mm thinner . . . but who’s counting?
Down the back, revised dampers and adoption of a new camber-control arm complete the changes.
Fastback is 12kg heavier over the rear axle, which translates to a weight distribution of 59.7 percent front, 40.3 percent rear — compared with 61.8/38.2 for the hatch.
A revised logic tune for the adaptive dampers is designed to exacerbate the differences between drive modes.
Standard stuff includes cloth trim and dual climate air, auto lights (not not wipers or rear view mirror), rear parking sensors, LED lights all round, 8.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and built-in sat nav.
Two out of three buyers apparently opt for the $3000 Luxury Pack which includes:
Front Parking Distance Warning
Front passenger seat cushion extension
LED courtesy and puddle lights
12-way Power front seats
Power folding exterior mirrors
Electro-chromatic interior mirror
Rain sensing wipers
Heated front seats/steering wheel
Solar control windscreen glass
Driver’s seat memory system
Smart key and push button start
Sport front seats with suede inserts and leather bolsters
What’s it go like?
It’s 12cm longer and 21mm lower than the i30 N hatch, but is powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, with drive to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual tranny — and electro-mechanical limited-slip diff.
The four-cylinder engine produces 202kW of power at 6000rpm, and 353Nm of torque from 1450 to 4700rpm, with 378Nm of torque available for 18 seconds through turbocharger overboost.
It all adds up to a 0 to 100km/h time of 6.1 seconds and electronically limited maximum speed of 250km/h.
The short-throw, 6-speed manual transmission is strengthened and fitted with carbon synchromesh rings to reduce shift effort, allowing for quick and smooth gear shifts.
The Fastback is a better looker than the hatch, especially finished in N only Performance Blue — and has a bigger boot.
Needless to say it is an exciting car to drive, whether it’s going down the road to the shops or howling from corner to corner along a twisty mountain road.
It’s right up there with the GTI, WRX, Type-R and Renault Megane RS, and we might point out of this group the WRX is the only one that’s all-wheel drive.
Surprisingly, it is the easiest and most comfortable to drive too and this fact should not be overlooked when it comes to the decision-making process.
The Fastback delivers extremely high levels of performance in all of the key areas — power, brakes, steering and handling — even ride comfort is streets ahead.
Depending on what drive mode is selected, there’s a real bark from the exhaust on throttle overun.
Reading the fine print, however, it’s artificially enhanced.
Launch control is part of the deal. With first gear selected and the clutch and accelerator fully depressed, the system will hold engine revs between 3600 and 4900rpm for up to five seconds.
Release the clutch and the system manages engine torque, speed and turbo boost to deliver maximum torque to the road, and maximum standing-start acceleration.
The bad news is that you have to wait three minutes between launches for the powertrain components cool off.
Geeks will love the race computer that allows you to customise just about every facet of the drive experience.
But take heart because all you really need to do is select N mode, hold on tight and enjoy the best bang for your buck money can buy at the moment.
Don’t get caught up in pointless discussions about whether the brakes are up to it or not — just enjoy the hell out of the car.
There’s no turbo lag, power delivery is extremely smooth and linear, gear changes are a snap, the steering is pin-sharp, there’s plenty of bite from the brakes and plenty of mid-corner grip from the Pirellis.
Rev matching blips the throttle automatically, ensuring you don’t muff the changes in the heat of the moment, and . . . well . . . because it sounds great.
After a few corners, you’ll love it — this car is that good.
We were however disappointed to find it misses out on many of the latest advances in car safety and is yet to receive a rating from the ANCAP organisation.
A form of auto emergency braking (AEB) is fitted, but it’s not as sophisticated as the system in the standard i30 and it doesn’t get adaptive cruise control.
The system lacks pedestrian detection and cyclist detection. There’s also no blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and the auto braking doesn’t work in reverse.
The one notable inclusion is Lane Keep Assist, but it is so annoying that like us you’ll probably end up turning it off.
With a 50-litre tank, the car takes premium 95 RON unleaded, with fuel consumption rated at 8.0L/100km.
We were getting 9.8 after close to 500km with a bit of hard driving thrown in.
For those that would like to hone their driving skills, it is interesting to note the 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty extends to track use, iincluding the fitting of semi-slick tyres — but you’re only covered for untimed, non-competitive events.
What we like?
Red hot performance
Easy peasy manual change
Incredibly smooth power delivery
Amazingly compliant ride quality
Pin sharp steering
Rabid bark from exhaust
What we don’t like?
Less sophisticated auto braking
None of the latest safety advances
No wireless charging for mobiles
The bottom line?
Subaru should be very very worried about this car.
It’s eye-catching, offers the same kind of performance for the same kind of price as a WRX and will appeal to the same kind of buyer.
Granted, it’s not all-wheel drive, but I sure as hell didn’t notice the difference pushing hard through a series of punishing mountain bends.
And how good is that steering? There’s a twin clutch version in the pipeline, but who really cares?