We’ve got the Hyundai i30 Fastback – Hyundai’s stylish five-door Coupe take on the i30 Hatch – in for review and test in premium trim with 1.4 petrol engine and DCT gearbox.
It could be argued that the first car Hyundai delivered which really had the mainstream competition properly worried was the 2012 Hyundai i30, brought home very clearly by the then VW boss Martin Winterkorn who expressed his astonishment at its build quality at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Since then Hyundai has been able to hold its head up as a maker of cars which can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the mainstream competition, and as a result has now got to the point where they even have a properly appealing hot hatch – the i30 N – which has proved a surprising success.
But it’s another i30 – this week’s test car, the Hyundai i30 Fastback – which perhaps illustrates Hyundai’s confidence as much as anything, because it’s a car that really is an indication that Hyundai are happy to emulate ‘Premium’ car makers with a five-door coupe, catering to those buyers wanting to make a more stylish statement than a compact family hatch or estate can make, even though sales expectations can’t be huge.
Remarkably, Hyundai has also been very sharp with the i30 Fastback’s pricing too, with the five-door coupe just £500 more than the equivalent hatchback, which seems something of a bargain.
But is the Fastback compromised by its styling? Is it as good a buy as the i30 Hatch or Estate? Lets find out.
Hyundai i30 Fastback Premium Inside and Out
To be absolutely honest, the i30 Fastback isn’t a cutting-edge, bespoke take on the sensible i30 Hatch, with just small detail differences at the front end, and a coupe bit at the back.
At the front, the Fastback gets a bit of a tweak to the lowered grille, air intakes and spoiler to make it all look a bit more purposeful, which they do, but you’d have to know your i30 Hatch remarkably well to see the difference unless you had the two side by side.
But move the the profile view and you can see the back’s a bit longer, the roof’s been squished, there’s 18″ alloys and it all ends up, when you get round the back, with a quite shapely rump with integrated spoiler and wraparound lights. It’s not exactly cool and sexy, but it looks pretty stylish.
Inside, despite the premium aspirations of the exterior, is basically the same as the i30 Hatch. But that’s not a bad thing.
Everything looks, and feels, well bolted together, the seats are comfy and adjustable and, despite that coupe roofline, there’s still enough headroom in the back to fit in proper grown-ups. Thanks to the Fastback growing a bit the boot’s bigger too, although getting stuff in and out isn’t as easy.
Spec on this Premium model is pretty decent too, with Climate, auto lights and wipers, LED headlights, 8″ Infotainment with Sat Nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Wireless phone charging, rear view camera, Keyless and much more.
On the safety front, this Fastback comes with Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision, Blind Spot, Lane Departure with Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Driver Attention Alert.
It’s all typically Hyundai; well thought out, practical and well equipped.
Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.4 DCT Performance and On the Road
With more dynamic looks than the Hatch, you’d expect the i30 Fastback to be a bit more dynamic. And it is, but rather like the exterior makeover it’s a sensible range of tweaks and nips, rather than a major overhaul.
The Fastback sits a bit lower than the Hatch and the suspension’s a tad stiffer which is enough to be noticeable if you want to push on. But thankfully the relative calm of the Hatch isn’t lost in the process and the Fastback is still at ease whatever road you’re on, and still copes very well with bumps, holes and ridges.
It’s still not really a back road hungry coupe, but it certainly stays flat enough when you’re a bit boisterous around an apex, goes where you point it and never really gets its knickers in a twist.
Under the bonnet is the same 1.4 litre petrol engine we had in the i30 Tourer we tested last year, and it suits the Fastback just as well.
It comes with 138bhp and 178lb/ft of torque, not exactly a huge amount of get up and go for a coupe with pretensions, but it does a good job of rowing along, revving freely and feeling much sweeter than a diesel would. We got 38mpg in a week of mixed motoring; owners will probably see the right side of 40mpg.
This 1.4 litre petrol came mated to a seven-speed DCT ‘box instead of the usual manual, which we reckoned would make it a great fit when we saw it on the spec sheet. But we’re not so sure.
Sitting on a dual carriageway the gearbox behaves well, changing down a cog with sensible throttle inputs if you’ve been baulked and just gets on with doing its stuff. Much the same in slow trickling traffic too where it saves your left leg.
But if you’re on a mixed drive of urban and country roads it seems to be a bit dense at times (and it’s worse if you’re an inveterate left foot braker), trying to get in a high gear too soon and trying to decide if it wants to listen to you when you ask it to get a shake on coming out of a bend or at a junction.
It’s not a bad ‘box, and it’s probably partly down to driving style, but we’d give it a miss and stick with the manual.
But slightly disappointing DCT aside, the styling, the handling and on-road manners are just very Hyundai; no extremes and plenty of competencies.
2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Verdict
The Hyundai i30 Fastback is a bit of an intriguing oddity, but at the end of a week and a chunk of miles we’d grown quite fond of it. And we started to see where it fits.
Hyundai want you to think of it as the Porsche Panamera for the masses, but it’s not really that. Instead, it’s a family car for drivers who don’t think they’re ready for the sensible tag, and want something that doesn’t shout ‘I’ve got two kids, a mortgage, big bills and a family Hatch’, but still want all the advantages of sensible everything else and a big warranty. The i30 Fastback fits that bill.
To all intents and purposes it’s just as practical as the i30 Hatch, with as much room for kids and stuff and, despite its mildly sporty coupe looks, it’s still an easy non-challenging driver. But it does look better than the rather unexciting Hatch.
When we reviewed the i30 Tourer last year we reckoned the modest £500 premium over the i30 Hatch was a bit of a no-brainer for a more appealing, better looking car. Ditto the i30 Fastback.
2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback Review Photo Gallery
Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.4 DCT Quick Specs
- Engine: 1353cc, 138bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 9.5 seconds / Top Speed 125mph
- Economy: 50.4mpg – Official / 38.4 mpg – Test
- Emissions: 129g/km
- Price: £23,860 / As tested: £24,440
- Test car supplied by Hyundai UK