What is it?
There are better examples than the i30 Fastback of the Hyundai Motor Group’s reinvention from purveyors of well-built, well-warrantied and, well, decent but not exceptional cars to a bold, ambitious rival of big European firms.
You could look at the Volkswagen Golf-baiting i30N hot hatch or the BMW-bothering Kia Stinger executive GT. Next to those, an i30 hatchback that – to describe it uncharitably – has had its roof squished and rear stretched a bit doesn’t seem all that radical.
Still, even if Hyundai’s marketing talk of how the i30 Fastback is bringing premium five-door coupé styling – as seen on the likes of the Audi A5 Sportback – to the mass market is somewhat exaggerated, the fact that the Korean firm is considering the category at all is a sign of its boldness. After all, in the mid-sized family car market, the i30’s existing hatchback and estate forms are likely to remain the most popular.
We’ve already driven the i30 Fastback with the 137bhp 1.4-litre T-GDi petrol engine in Spain, but this is our first taste of it on UK roads. It’s also our first taste of the car fitted with Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox.
What's it like?
Much like the hatch version, the i30 Fastback is perfectly pleasant to look at, if not exactly a styling revolution. Still, that revised rear end – it’s 115mm longer than the hatch, with wrap-around rear lights – has its charms, especially when combined with the slightly longer nose and lower front grille. Our test car ran on 18in wheels (it also comes with 17in wheels).
The exterior work ensures the i30 Fastback has a style of its own, although it’s clear that it’s a reworked version of a hatch. That mild makeover doesn’t continue inside; it’s exactly as you’d find in any other i30. It’s well laid out and comfortable, if not particularly exciting. Still, everything feels practical and solidly built.
It’s worth noting that the i30 Fastback slightly increases the capacity of the boot, and Hyundai has bundled in plenty of technology and driver assistance features. Our £23,440 Premium test car included safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, blindspot detection and lane departure warning. It also came with an 8.0in touchscreen, wireless phone-charger and plenty of USB charging points and sockets. Much like the non-Fastback i30, really.