Everyone was surprised when the Hyundai i30 N, the Korean marque’s first attempt at a hot hatch, turned out to be a rambunctious little tyke that could go toe-to-toe with Europe’s finest. Earlier in 2019, this Hyundai i30 Fastback N version was added to the range for anyone wanting a more stylish, more mature look than the shouty hatchback.

The i30 Fastback N is only available in top-spec Performance form and the basics remain the same as in the hatch. Power comes from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine producing 275hp and 260lb/ft of torque, driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox and electronically controlled limited slip differential.

The Fastback is 120mm longer and 21mm lower than the hatchback, and has a better drag coefficient – 0.297 Cd against 0.320 Cd. It’s about 12kg heavier, all of which is over the rear axle, and the boot is a lot bigger, 450 litres playing the hatchback’s 395 litres.

Performance is identical, taking 6.1secs to run the 0-62mph sprint, with top speed pegged at 155mph.

It comes with loads of kit as standard including 19in wheels, heated electric seats, 8in touschscreen satnav and LED headlights. The interior plastics aren’t great, but the seats are extremely comfortable and there’s loads of space.

The difference in cost between the Fastback and the equivalent hatchback is only £500, which seems like a small price to pay for the sleeker styling and extra boot space.

But enough of that. What’s it like to drive?

It may be down on power against the likes of the SEAT Leon Cupra and Renault Megane RS Trophy, but the engine pulls and keenly from any revs while producing an amusingly gruff growl. It’s not as fast as some rivals, but it’s still fast enough to have fun and there’s less chance of getting into serious trouble with it.

I found the clutch a little awkward, but the shift is slick and short and it blips on down-shifts.

It’s in the corners that the i30 Fastback N really shines. The suspension has been softened slightly from the hatchback’s set-up (it’ll receive the changes later this year) but it’s still pretty feisty. Trust the LSD, get on the power early, and it’ll carry serious speed through a corner. The steering doesn’t provide much feel, but it’s quick and accurate.

All this is true of normal and Sport modes, but N mode amplifies everything to riotous levels. It’s huge fun.

For my money, the Hyundai i30 Fastback N is the best sub-300hp hot hatchback there is. And it might actually be my money. In a highly unusual move for a motoring journalist, I’m seriously considering putting my money where my mouth is and buying one.

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Model tested: Hyundai i30 Fastback N Type: Coupe-ish 5dr hot hatchback Price: £29,995 Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol Power: 275hp Torque: 260lb/ft Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel-drive Performance: 0-62mph in 6.1secs, top speed 155mph Economy: 34mpg combined, Co2 emissions of 178g/km (WLTP) Length: 4,455mm Width: 1,795mm Height: 1,419mm Weight: 1,419mm Boot capacity: 450l seats up, 1,351l seats down Towing weight: 1,600kg Rivals: Honda Civic Type R, Peugeot 308 GTi, Renault Megane RS, SEAT Leon Cupra, Skoda Octavia vRS, Volkswagen Golf GTi

By Graham King

Quick spin: Hyundai i30 Fastback N
Performance87%
Handling & Ride91%
Design81%
Space & Safety83%
Value for money90%
Gadgets74%
The Positives
  • Looks great
  • Huge boot
  • Riotous fun
The Negatives
  • Hard interior trim
  • Awkward clutch
  • Erm...
84%Overall Score
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