What is it?
That Hyundai could challenge the hot hatchback establishment on its first try should come as little surprise, given the man in charge of its performance arm.
It’s more impressive that in little under 18 months, Albert Biermann and his N division team have learned lessons from the debut attempt and returned with a more refined follow-up. The Fastback N arrives with a level of maturity that goes further than its liftback tailgate.
Not that the exterior styling gives anything away, with an identical front end, matching 19in alloy wheels and Pirelli P Zero tyres. The rear gets a more sculpted diffuser, prominent twin exhausts and bootlid spoiler, but the similarities are clear to see.
Performance is unchanged from the hatch, courtesy of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘theta’ engine - albeit only in 271bhp Performance guise. With the majority of i30 N customers opting for the more powerful variant, Hyundai hasn’t seen the need to offer British customers the lesser 247bhp powerplant. It can reach 62mph from a standing start in 6.1sec, matching the hatchback.
The differences have been achieved not through mechanical changes but software tweaks. Both cars share the same electronically locking front differential, adaptive dampers and electronic power steering system, but Hyundai has overhauled the settings for each one to tone things down from the violently firm hatchback. Softer suspension also promises to deliver a more supple ride.
You may have already read Matt Saunders’ first impressions from the car’s European launch in Gran Canaria (if not, you can find them here), but this is the first time we’ve had the chance to drive the Fastback on British roads. And cold, wet, snow-covered ones at that.