We like ‘our’ Hyundai i30 N long-term test car very much. It looks good, it’s enormously fast, and even against established hot hatch contenders, it has a tendency to come out on top. But as we’ve said before, it’s not perfect, and one of our major complaints is the ride.
However, the i30 N’s overly-committed suspension setup is due for a change, starting with the new Fastback version. Hyundai’s engineers have worked hard to dial out some of the car’s understeer by reducing the front spring rate and the front stabiliser bar thickness, while also fettling the adaptive dampers, which has the effect of improving the ride in ‘Normal’ mode. And thankfully, this new setup - which also includes a retuned adaptive damper control unit and revised damper internals - is making its way onto the regular five-door hatch.
But has it done the trick? Thanks to a drive in a prototype version of the i30 N Fastback at Millbrook Proving Ground, we have some idea.
Our drive at Millbrook Proving Grounds was quite short and in shockingly wet conditions, so I couldn’t push the car quite as much as I’d have liked, but handily, I was able to try it back-to-back with the regular hatchback. And it feels…very similar. But that’s to be expected - suspension tweaks aside it’s largely the same underneath, with a 271bhp inline-four turbo under the bonnet (a 247bhp entry-level version will be available too) feeding its power to the front wheels via a Hyundai-developed electronically-controlled limited-slip differential. But there definitely is just a little more give to the suspension in ‘Normal’ mode than there was before. It’s certainly much more gentle on the rebound stroke.
The result is a car that’s not just more comfortable, but also one that feels marginally less nervous. The change isn’t dramatic, but certainly welcome. The Sport+ suspension setting meanwhile - automatically turned on when you switch to N mode - remains brutally firm and not a whole load of use away from a race track.
Even in the wet, it’s clear the Fastback has retained the standard i30 N’s mega front end, and it’s sharp steering which is hyper-aggressive off-centre. Sport+ steering remains - as with the Sport+ damper setting - to be avoided, since it’s just too heavy. Leave those two elements in ‘Normal’ mode, turn everything else up, and you’re going to have a good time.
We wouldn’t put off buying a current-spec i30 N to wait for the changes to be carried over to the hatchback, but from what we can see, they do make for a more complete hot hatch. As for the Fastback, we can’t wait to see it without its camo - something we’ll be able to do when the car makes its public debut at the Paris Motor Show this October.