You’d be forgiven for thinking the changes go no deeper than the metalwork, but you’d be wrong. The chassis sits 5mm lower than before and the suspension has been stiffened a touch in line with the Fastback’s marginally more sporting bent. In the UK, the engine line-up will be petrol-only at first (and possibly ever), with a 1.0-litre turbo unit touting 118bhp and a similarly blown 1.4-litre engine offering a more wholesome 137bhp. A six-speed manual can be had with either powerplant, though the more powerful of the two is also offered with Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutcher.
Equipment is decently generous, with the base-spec SE Nav 1.0 T-GDi featuring an 8in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also wireless phone charging and a rear-view camera, though to indulge in the luxury of artificial leather seats you’ll need to upgrade to Premium spec, which adds LED headlights too. Top-of-the-line Premium SE cars get a panoramic sunroof.
It’s worth mentioning that safety equipment is equally generous, with lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist and autonomous emergency braking standard across the range. Premium-spec cars also get blind-spot warning.
What's it like?
As benign and undemanding to drive as it is to look at, which, frankly, will suit most buyers just fine. When it comes to control weights, Hyundai has found its groove with the most recent i30, and there’s a natural rate of response throughout – steering, brakes and throttle – though little in the way of feel.
Hyundai’s alterations to the chassis have yielded a marginally more agile car, too, though the handling itself could only ever be described as being ‘inert’. Again, that’s almost certainly deliberate, as the i30 is a purveyor of stability and refinement over any kind of thrills. A Mazda 3 is more the enjoyable steer, undoubtedly.
As an aside, we were surprised to see that our test car was shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, which were so effective as to neuter any playfulness the chassis might have possessed, even if they did serve up tremendous grip.
The engine we tested was the more powerful, 1.4-litre petrol unit. It makes for a reasonably refined cruiser and 179lb ft from a lowly 1500rpm means the car’s performance – though modest – is at least accessible. Its 51.4mpg combined economy figure is a fraction lower than the automatic’s 52.3mpg, though both figures are respectable, and on a par with the marginally less powerful 1.4-litre TSI found in the Volkswagen Golf.
The interior, meanwhile, surprises in that boot space is said to be at least 450 litres (the exact dimensions have still to be confirmed), surpassing the hatchback’s 395 litres. Rear headroom also seems to have suffered to a minimal degree.
Should I buy one?
You might well consider it a tempting buy. After all, the Fastback represents a dynamic improvement over the i30 hatchback and, objectively speaking, that car gives very little cause for complaint, in terms of practicality or drivability or build quality, but especially in terms of cost. Hyundai has been canny in levying only a £500 premium on the new car, which seems good value.
This makes the i30 Fastback an intriguing proposition. Its niche is undeniably narrow and pinning down its reason for being is, well, difficult. We imagine the majority of drivers in the market for something a little exotic won’t be queuing around the block for a Hyundai, and yet many a hatchback buyer may crave something a little different. The i30 Fastback is just that, and no worse for it.
Hyundai i30 Fastback 1.4 T-GDi
Where Mallorca, Spain On sale January 2018 Price £21,055 Engine 4 cyls, 1353cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 137bhp at 6000rpm Torque 179lb ft at 1500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1287kg Top speed 126mph 0-62mph 9.5sec Fuel economy 51.4mpg CO2 rating 125g/km Rivals Mazda 3 Sportback, Honda Civic