Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

Despite a range of chassis tweaks and a little extra weight, the i30 Fastback N feels much the same to drive as its hatchback sibling, and that’s a good thing
Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

“A black cat walked past, and then another that looked just like it,” Neo told his black leather-clad cohorts, much to their horror. Deva Vu, they explained, was a bad thing in The Matrix - it meant something had been changed and Agent Smith and his besuited chums were about to do something dastardly.

I had a pretty severe case of deja vu this week, although it was anything but bad, and not just because I wasn’t in some cyberpunk post-apocalyptic setting. I was behind the wheel of the new Hyundai i30 Fastback N, experiencing a familiar feeling which was most welcome, rather than unsettling.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

To drive, it feels much the same as the hatchback. When I tried a prototype version last year it did feel different to the hatchback I’d just gotten out of due to softened front springs, a slightly less beefy front anti-roll bar, extended bump stops and a new rear camber control arm, but there wasn’t much in it. And on the roads I sampled the Fastback on, I struggled to detect any noticeable differences in how this new car handles itself compared to what I remember the hatch being like.

This is no bad thing since the regular i30 N is an exceptional hot hatchback. The Fastback has the same 271bhp 2.0-litre and the associated gutsy mid-range, the Hyundai-bespoke clutch-based front differential that’s so much more progressive than some of the mechanical LSDs used by competitors, plus the hatch’s fast, accurate steering and supremely sticky front end. It’s still a car that inspires incredible confidence, and under the right conditions, you can even adjust the rear with a cheeky lift.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

Is it a little more comfortable in ‘Normal’ mode than before, as Hyundai’s engineers intended? Perhaps, but it remains your best option for road use even in this slightly softer setup. Roll is nicely contained yet there’s enough give to soak up bumpy surfaces without the car feeling jittery and nervous - it settles down very quickly. The Sport suspension setting is just about acceptable, and Sport+ remains something that’s best reserved for the track.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

As well as sharing all the hatch’s best bits, the Fastback comes with all the less-so-good stuff too. The cabin’s not exactly lively and is even more dreary with the blue driving mode buttons on the steering wheel now finished in black. The pedals are springy and badly placed for rev-matching (there is an automatic system for this which is easy to turn on and off), and a Honda Civic Type R is tighter in almost every regard.

But it’s a close-run thing, and when you consider that the i30 N - particularly in fastback form - looks far better than the, erm, visually challenging Civic, the South Korean car claws it back. The engine feels gutsier and sounds better, plus the whole shebang is a lot cheaper.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

It’s not just better overall than the Type R, either - it might just be the best hot hatch you can buy right now. Rather than being surprising in any way, the Fastback reminds us of the incredible achievement Hyundai has pulled off - to have entered the hot hatch arena as a complete newcomer and put together something which beats cars from manufacturers who’ve had generations of practice. Past masters Renault Sport must be fuming following the mixed reception of its new Megane, and Peugeot Sport is surely quite miffed too.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Review: The Best Kind Of Deja Vu

In making the i30 N Fastback, Hyundai merely takes its winning formula and sticks it into a new body shape, effectively creating a car that doesn’t have any direct competition. It’s probably not the version I’d have - I find the hatchback’s back end sportier to look at and the Fastback’s a little stumpy from some angles, and the rear visibility is noticeably worse in the latter car. But if you dig the car’s curves, Hyundai won’t even charge you that much more: at £29,995, it’s only £500 pricier. Really, Hyundai, you’re spoiling us.



I prefer the new Veloster looks-wise even though it’s the same car underneath.

01/15/2019 - 19:24 |
0 | 0

If you put a big wang on the back it would kind of resemble a Civic Type R

01/15/2019 - 20:09 |
8 | 0
Martin Burns

Noticeably refined, which is awesome because if you’re the kinda person that wants i30N sort of performance with out the whole “boy racer” hatchback thing you now have an i30 in the N range that isn’t so… colorful. Not that boy racer hatches aren’t awesome… because they are and always will be!

01/15/2019 - 22:01 |
2 | 0
Basith Penna-Hakkim

For some reason I don’t know why but now I like this fastback more than the hatch

01/15/2019 - 22:09 |
42 | 0

Looks like a c class from the back

01/16/2019 - 22:13 |
0 | 0

I want this car solely because of the lavender blue colour. I wish every car I owned was that colour

01/15/2019 - 22:13 |
0 | 0

Nice Mercedes Kappa

01/16/2019 - 02:17 |
0 | 4

Hyundai is killing it recently!

01/16/2019 - 04:54 |
10 | 0

Not a huge fan of the design, to be honest. The proportions look too much like the current-gen Civic, which is not a good thing. But I guess it hat a lot of potential in markets where sedans are generally preferred over hatchbacks.

01/16/2019 - 07:53 |
4 | 2
Ben Anderson 1

In reply to by Jakob

I suspect its for Asian markets. China, specifically, where a hatchback is seen as a sign of weakness in their hierarchical society.

01/16/2019 - 08:31 |
0 | 2

Did someone say… DEJA VU?!

01/16/2019 - 08:50 |
6 | 0
Jefferson Tan(日産)

In reply to by Hast


01/16/2019 - 12:14 |
2 | 0

To be honest after all these amazing achievements with the hatch and Fastback, I just can’t wait to see what a wagon would be like!

01/16/2019 - 12:47 |
0 | 0



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