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In-depth reviews

Hyundai i30 Fastback review - Engines, performance and drive

Limited engine range offers acceptable performance with good economy; rapid i30 Fastback N is highly impressive

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.7 out of 5

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The Hyundai range generally provides an all-round competent driving experience, balancing comfort with driving pleasure, and the i30 Fastback largely follows this same template. The Fastback model has a number of detail changes compared to the hatchback model, notably the body shell is slightly stiffer and the suspension is fractionally lower and firmer, but for the standard model at least the emphasis is on delivering tidy handling and a comfortable ride.

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The i30 Fastback copes well with all types of road, and while never excelling in one particular area, it is impressively capable and undemanding whatever the driving conditions. The standard six-speed manual gearbox has a smooth action while the brakes offer good stopping power and are easy to modulate, too. The steering is relatively heavy for a car with standard power assistance and the ratio of the rack is relatively slow, but it is as accurate and consistent as all the major controls, making it undemanding to operate for all kinds of drivers.

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The i30 Fastback N moves this to another level, with significantly stiffer suspension, a unique gearbox, engine and electronic drive mode programme all taken from the i30N hatchback. While the ride is noticeably stiffer than the rest of the Fastback range, it’s not quite as stiff as the i30N hatch, and is all the better for it. What it does provide is satisfyingly-sharp steering responses and a good deal more excitement for the keen driver.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The entry-level i30 Fastback model comes with the 1.0-litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol offering 119bhp and 171Nm of torque. Although a keen engine that is willing to rev and is efficient, performance is modest with a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 117mph. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine offers a better balance of abilities, with 138bhp and 242Nm of torque providing sufficient acceleration to achieve 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 129mph. The four-cylinder engine is also a little more refined than the three cylinder unit, although the latter has a more pleasing sound when taken to higher revs.

The i30 Fastback N is a different animal, with 271bhp and 353Nm of torque enough to deliver 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. That makes it a genuinely fast car, with rapid acceleration available instantaneously with an engaging exhaust note, particularly when one of the more aggressive drive modes is engaged.

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