What is it?
I’m no fashion expert and my competition driving days are long gone, so when the new Hyundai i30 Fastback N came my way I called in the family experts.
Son Rob, aka Dr Bobla, is a tarmac rally driver of repute and daughter Janine is a Pilates instructor with a keen interest in fashion.
More than a pretty face, she’s also a fine driver, graduating from an advanced driving course with top honours.
What Janine thinks?
‘From the humble impression of a fashion-focused femme, the Hyundai i30 Fastback N met all my aesthetic desires.
‘From the sleek exterior to the sporty, slick interior, many a box was ticked. Not only does it look the part but it plays well too. The handling matches that of any European car with its strong performance and solid feel.
‘I’ve always enjoyed a manual and this one has 6 gears.
‘For those who struggle to know which gear to shift into, a visual guide suggests moving up or down when necessary.
‘It’s also very fuel efficient and four-up, plus luggage, on a country trip I got an outstanding 7.4L/100km average.
‘However, if you give it free rein it will reach 100km/h in about 5 seconds.
‘The i30 N is a fast, fun drive with all the comforts and mod cons one could ask for. Reverse camera, voice activated warnings against oncoming speed cameras (best feature ever), subtle alerts indicating a few too many km/h above the limit and a wonderful screen with Apple Carplay, linking the phone to the car.
‘No complications and no need to be tech savvy, just a simple USB charger connects everything. There’s even a wireless charging dock.
‘Getting from A to B has never been so pleasant and easy either.
‘The screen, similar to an iPad is a great size, especially to see road maps. The dashboard is clear, informative and of course, stylish. Black and red dominate the colour scheme with red stitching, rivalling an AMG, and it has nice form-fitting sports seats.
‘The Fastback N is the perfect balance of sporty chic and classy comfort.
‘It’s not super spacious but has ample room for a couple and two kids and there’s plenty of boot space. It’s ideal for the sports enthused who appreciate true style.
The Doctor’s diagnosis?
“Push the button on the steering wheel and a rawty, hawty growl from the exhaust bursts into life.
‘The six-speed box is very positive and if you can’t double de-clutch then switch to custom drive mode and the computer will rev-match the engine down through the gears for you. That way you can at least pretend you know what you’re doing.
‘The lights are great. The LEDs are sharp and, combined with corner assist side lamps, there isn’t an apex you’ll miss in the dark.
‘The seats are very good. The interior finish is great, worthy of cars in the bracket $20k higher. There is space for friends or family and shopping.
‘The styling has sharpened up a little, but the heart is still strong.
‘On the road the N is so surefooted it feels more like an AWD than front wheel driven.
‘A little chatter from the lights and you’re off and from there the poise, corner to corner, is excellent. The balance in the car is superb.
‘The steering is perfectly weighted to give maximum road feedback to the driver, which is very rare.
‘All the CarPlay and smart phone hook ups are installed as well as a bunch of safety features like lane assist, blind spot mirror alert, ABS, traction control, night glare shade rear vision mirror.
‘The Pirelli P Zeros do a great job on the N. They are quiet and razor-sharp, like the rest of the car. Pretty close to a perfect match for very sporty road driving.
“All in all, again one of my favourite cars this year.”
The man himself?
Well, there y’go.
For my part, I found the car incredibly versatile in that it could happily potter around nanna style or change into a rip-snorting Golf-gobbling performer at the touch of the N button.
The technical bits include several drive modes, eco, normal, sport, sport+ and custom, the latter allowing you to play with the suspension, power, torque — there’s also a launch feature — and other settings that can keep you busy for weeks trying them all out.
The combinations are endless.
The engine is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, that red-lines at 6800rpm, and can produce 202kW and 353Nm of back shoving torque.
The handling is remarkable, helped by a brace bar across the rear end and there’s also an electronic diff to help keep things in order.
I liked the coupe-style looks of the car, its large cargo area and its general ease of driving.
The brakes are huge, the wheels 19-inch alloys with Italy’s finest rubber.
I didn’t mind the welcome tinkling music on start-up either, or the power seats that move to where you’d adjusted them to. Oh, so civilised.
Then there’s the five-year warranty, which includes track use, if you’re so inclined.
Who else offers something like that for around $45,000?
What we like?
- Go go go
- Fully loaded
- Superb balance
- Not a Golf
What we don’t like?
- Prefer the hatch to the booty fastback
The bottom line?
The kind of car I’d happily live with for the rest of my days.
CHECKOUT: Hyundai i30 Fastback N: It’s bye-bye GTI
Hyundai i30 Fastback N with Luxury Pack, priced from $50,148
- Looks - 8.5/108.5/10
- Performance - 9/109/10
- Safety - 8.5/108.5/10
- Thirst - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Comfort - 8/108/10
- Tech - 9/109/10
- Value - 9.5/109.5/10