2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback FIRST DRIVE review

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The Hyundai i30 family hatchback has gained a five-door coupé variant, called the Fastback. We’ve driven it for the first time.

The Hyundai i30 is no longer the ‘beige’ offering it used to be. The third-generation model – introduced earlier in 2017 – sports dashing curves and an aggressive front grille, and its asking price has increased to reflect this added cachet.

Hyundai i30 Fastback

Hyundai is now further upping the ante in terms of design with a new i30 Fastback model that joins the existing hatchback and estate variants. The most noticeable change is to the roofline, which sits a fraction lower than on the hatchback and slopes towards the rear of car before flicking up to form a neat little spoiler.

The five-door i30 Fastback (there isn’t a three-door option) is also a little longer than the hatchback, and comes with new alloy wheel designs of 17in and 18in.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback on the road

To go with the i30 Fastback’s more athletic demeanour, Hyundai has stiffened the suspension a touch to give the car a more agile feel from behind the wheel. It’s worked, though only to a degree, because while the car is effortless to place on the road and responds impressively keenly to steering inputs, it still very obviously priorities stability over thrills. Keen drivers should look elsewhere, perhaps to the Ford Focus.

The good news is that Hyundai’s tinkering of the i30 Fastback’s chassis hasn’t robbed it of the supple ride and impressive refinement that are hallmarks of the i30 hatchback experience. The i30 Fastback nonchalantly absorbs road surface changes and the like, while the interior retains its ambience of calm even at higher speeds. It plays the junior cruiser role with aplomb.

When the i30 Fastback goes on sale in January 2018, there will be a choice of two petrol engines – a three-cylinder 1.0-litre with 118bhp and a more powerful four-cylinder 1.4-litre with 137bhp. It’s the latter we’ve driven, and it offers ample propulsion from low engine speeds and pulls smoothly through the mid-range of its revs. As for gearbox options, there’s a choice of either an easygoing six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which promises even more effortless shifts.

The 1.4 engine is also commendably economical, managing a combined 51.4mpg in official tests – that’s only a fraction short of the figure recorded by the less powerful 1.4 TSI unit in the Volkswagen Golf. You could, however, save even more by sacrificing a little performance and opting for Hyundai’s 1.0-litre engine, which boasts a combined 54.3mpg. There are no plans to offer diesel engines in the i30 Fastback.

The driving experience, then, is a subtle improvement on that of the i30 hatchback, which itself gives little cause for complaint. However, one thing to be aware of with the i30 Fastback is that rear visibility is compromised by the sloping bodywork and smaller rear screen. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you like the design of the car, but it can become a nuisance, particularly if you’re manoeuvring in tight parking spaces.

2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback interior

Hyundai really knows how to build good ergonomics into an interior, and the i30 Fastback demonstrates this. The major controls are comfortably placed, the seats are supportive and visibility out of the front is excellent, all of which you’d expect of a car with sporting – if ultimately utilitarian – pretensions.

Of course, the big question with any fastback car is whether interior space has been compromised. In this case it hasn’t; the i30 Fastback has more than 450 litres of boot space in comparison to the hatchback’s 395. Rear head room might be an issue for taller passengers, though, so make sure you’re satisfied there’s enough space before putting pen to paper.

As per the i30 hatchback, the i30 Fastback’s interior is well assembled from materials that, while not the most luxurious, aren’t noticeably low-rent and certainly seem hard-wearing.

Standard equipment is generous, with the base-spec 1.0 T-GDi SE Nav featuring an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. There’s also wireless smartphone charging and a rear-view camera, although to indulge in the luxury of electrically powered artificial leather seats (cloth seats are standard) you’ll need to upgrade to Premium, which also adds LED headlights. Top-of-the-line Premium SE cars get a panoramic sunroof, with a leather steering wheel coming as standard on all models.

Hyundai i30 Fastback

Hyundai’s designers have upped the i30’s desirability by sculpting its bodywork in the fastback style, but this is otherwise business as usual for Hyundai.

That means reasonable value for money – in fact, the premium for the i30 Fastback is just £500/$665 over the i30 hatchback – good build quality, competitive fuel economy and very little in the way of excitement.

Indeed, the i30 Fastback is likely to appeal to only a narrow band of buyers in the market for a family hatchback, but for those who like what they see, there’s little to disappoint.

Hyundai i30 Fastback specs
  • Engine 4cyl, 1353cc, petrol
  • Power 137bhp at 6000rpm
  • Torque179lb ft at 15000rpm
  • Gearbox 6-spd manual
  • 0-62mph 9.5sec
  • Top speed 126mph
  • Official economy 52.3mpg
  • CO2, tax band 125g/km, 24%

(whatcar.com, https://goo.gl/1hPgKw)



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