7
The Hyundai i30 Fastback combines good looks with sensible practicalities, but its dynamic charm is what appeals the most

Our Verdict

Hyundai i30

Hyundai’s next-gen bedrock model gets a ‘new era’ look and shrunken turbo petrol, but is it enough to take on the Volkswagen Golf

6 December 2017

What is it?

As the name implies, this premise here is quite simple. Hyundai already offers its i30 as either a hatchback or an estate, and now there’s a third bodystyle: a fastback.

Compared with the five-door hatch – itself revised for 2017 – the roofline is lowered by roughly an inch and tapers gently at the rear. Along with the elongated nose, complete with lower-set grille, it means the Fastback is 115mm longer than the hatch. The rear haunches are also more pronounced, with wrap-around rear lights, and there are two new wheel designs, of 17in and 18in.

Is all that enough to make duck-tailed i30 Fastback a thing of beauty? Perhaps, albeit in a slightly pokey fashion that leaves one in no doubt about the car’s hatchback origins.

Nevertheless, the big claim from Hyundai is that the Fastback ‘democratises advanced design’, tacitly referencing the swooping likes of Audi’s A5 Sportback and Kia Stinger, which cost rather a lot more. Hyundai also reckons itself to be the first brand to hit up the volume segment with a five-door coupé, conveniently forgetting about the existence of the Mazda 3 Fastback, which we rather like.

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

Join the debate

Comments
15

6 December 2017

Fastback? Haven't heard the term for years. 

Unfortunately in this case it doesn't make the car look more appealing IMHO. But who knows, after the SUV coupe, 4-door coupe-saloon etc. this might even signal a new market niche, when car buyers chase after novelty.

"Premium-spec cars also get blind-spot warning" -

This is not something to celebrate but shows up a fundamewntal weakness of current cars - visibility. Thick pillars, tapered bodywork from front to back etc. make sure that without electronic aids contemporary cars are unsafe to drive, unsafe that is for other car users and pedestrians.

6 December 2017
abkq wrote:

Fastback? Haven't heard the term for years. 

Unfortunately in this case it doesn't make the car look more appealing IMHO. But who knows, after the SUV coupe, 4-door coupe-saloon etc. this might even signal a new market niche, when car buyers chase after novelty.

"Premium-spec cars also get blind-spot warning" -

This is not something to celebrate but shows up a fundamewntal weakness of current cars - visibility. Thick pillars, tapered bodywork from front to back etc. make sure that without electronic aids contemporary cars are unsafe to drive, unsafe that is for other car users and pedestrians.

Absolutely correct.  I agree with yourself and Rob, and in fact I've commented many times here over the last couple of years about the continual reduction of side glass in cars, especially at the back, but even in the front doors in many cases.  It's simply far too shallow.  Anyone would think glass is more expensive than diamonds, it's getting that ridiculous.  Travelling in the back of these cars must be horrendous, for kids and anybody on the short side in particular.  Gloomy, closed-in and lacking in visibility.  It must be utterly miserable to travel any distance in such conditions.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

6 December 2017

Spot on. I have a horrible feeling those little windows behind the rear doors aren’t windows at all, but blanking plates like an Astra etc. Why isn’t there a visibility standard that makes that illegal?

Saying that, from these pics and not having seen one in the flesh yet, I’d say it’s a very handsome car. Just the right mix of style without going over the top and restricting practicality. It will sell like hot cakes here, like every other product from Hyundai/Kia. Without the brand snobbishness apparently still alive in the UK, we love a bargain that’s good to drive and looks good. The Hyundai dealer near me, from which a friend recently bought a Veloster, told me that they now have a queue at every salesman’s desk on the weekend and have had to take on extra staff to serve coffee and eats to waiting buyers who are queuing out the door. H/K are taking over their part of the market here: Holden and Ford are dead in the water and might as well give up.

robbo

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

6 December 2017

I'm wondering how well Hyundai does in retained sales. My work car park was heading towards 20% Hyundai ownership over the past 5/6 years. Yet when it came time to change not one of us bought another Hyundai with every owner complaining of poor reliability and particularly poor gearchange. Dealers were a mixed bag - mine was excellent but another around 10 miles away was really poor (one of those supposedly customer focused family dealerships).

My i40 was nearly a good car but sadly the more it was driven the less appealing it came, whereas it's Passat replacement is the opposite.

6 December 2017
Just look at Toyota corolla in 90s. They offered hatch and fastback body styles. Plus this will just compete with the new civic hatch which is really a fastback and similar size. FYI Mazda 3 fastback is a saloon, so not a good comparison

6 December 2017
xanderbrown wrote:

Just look at Toyota corolla in 90s. They offered hatch and fastback body styles. Plus this will just compete with the new civic hatch which is really a fastback and similar size. FYI Mazda 3 fastback is a saloon, so not a good comparison

I was thinking the same, especially regarding the mazda, which I like, being a saloon. That said I like this and have always prefered the elongated style hatch like the civic to the estate style hatch like the golf. Cars like the civic/rover 400/mgzs, there used to be loads styled that way.

6 December 2017
si73 wrote:

xanderbrown wrote:

Just look at Toyota corolla in 90s. They offered hatch and fastback body styles. Plus this will just compete with the new civic hatch which is really a fastback and similar size. FYI Mazda 3 fastback is a saloon, so not a good comparison

I was thinking the same, especially regarding the mazda, which I like, being a saloon. That said I like this and have always prefered the elongated style hatch like the civic to the estate style hatch like the golf. Cars like the civic/rover 400/mgzs, there used to be loads styled that way.

Even back in the 90s you had big cars styled like this, the only survivors seem to be the Mondeo, Insignia (ex-Vectra/Cavalier) and Octavia.

The likes of the Accord, C5 and soon to be axed Avensis could've been saved if they retained a fastback variant.

6 December 2017

Do manufacturers think no-one who drives a "fastback", or a "5dr coupé" ever needs to reverse in the rain? Why delete the rear wiper that's standard on both the normal hatchback and the estate. From the earlier information I was considering one of these to replace our 2010 i30 hatch, the extra luggage space without the estate's bulk would be useful, but without a rear wiper its a no-go for me.

6 December 2017
Neil2129 wrote:

Do manufacturers think no-one who drives a "fastback", or a "5dr coupé" ever needs to reverse in the rain? Why delete the rear wiper that's standard on both the normal hatchback and the estate. From the earlier information I was considering one of these to replace our 2010 i30 hatch, the extra luggage space without the estate's bulk would be useful, but without a rear wiper its a no-go for me.

I have a fastback Octavia that has a rear wiper, a car that in profile it could almost be a Jetta style saloon. Yet I'm not that fussed on the rear wiper, it wouldn't be a game changer if it wasn't there.

6 December 2017

It is said the boot offers more space? Interestingly neither in Autocar nor it's sister magazine Auto Express provide a picture of the boot interior. There are numerous shots (28 in total on Auto Express) of the car but none of the boot. Would it be overly sceptical to suggest this was a deliberate move by Hyundai? Just wondering how much of it's capacity is useful and how well shaped it is. 'Fastback' tends to suggest compromise.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Vauxhall Viva Rocks
    The Vauxhall Viva Rocks will sit at the top of the city car range
    First Drive
    15 December 2017
    Vauxhall's city car gets an urban SUV makeover in a bid to court younger buyers. Is that enough to turn it into a Suzuki Ignis beater?
  • Volkswagen T-Roc 2.0 TSI
    First Drive
    15 December 2017
    Do 187bhp and 4Motion all-wheel drive make the current top-spec T-Roc exciting to drive?
  • Nissan Micra 1.0
    First Drive
    15 December 2017
    Nissan plugs the gap in its Micra range with a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol engine, but is it good enough to unseat the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo equivalents?
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
    First Drive
    15 December 2017
    The super-saloon version of Alfa’s long-awaited M3 rival has already wowed our road testers, but what’s it like to live with?
  • Lexus LS 500h
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    New flagship saloon from Lexus provides a luxury interior to rival the best but comes up short due to its hybrid powertrain