WE can’t review the 2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance without first telling you the cute story that goes with it. You see, the boss (yes, you guessed it, that’s me) has a very funny 7-year-old daughter, who loves cars.
That’s not the cute story though. Here we are on a Saturday evening parked outside Woolies, just her and yours truly, with the car in N mode, idling, nay burbling, as we wait. Both the driver and rear passenger window are down. She’s in the back.
“Dad, dad,” she says from the back seat. “Unleash the crackle.” And so we do. A short punch of the accelerator and the exhaust bangs out three loud crackles. Now we’re giggling, amused by the sheer brutal notes the i30 Fastback N is capable of.
There’s a tonne of performance that goes with that crackle, thanks to the twin-scroll turbo-boosted 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet, which generates 202kW of power and 353Nm of torque (378Nm on over-boost).
It rides on electronically controlled suspension, which is this time softer than its i30 N Performance hatch sibling, a result of direct feedback from that model’s customers, and has a reduced drag co-efficient thanks to its new 5-door tear drop shape.
There’s an active variable exhaust system and electronically controlled mechanical limited slip diff among a bevy of bits that make the Fastback N what it is; a wickedly quick coupe styled hot hatch (that isn’t a hatch).
There are some five driving modes available, including Eco, Normal, Sport, N (our favourite for reasons that will be obvious in a moment), and Custom, which lets you pick and choose the settings you want, to suit your driving style.
All of the settings make changes to the power train and chassis, with Eco reducing revs and altering the rev-matching characteristics to save on fuel, while Normal mode throws in improved throttle response and some added exhaust noise.
Switch to Sport and the LSD, ECS, steering weight and electronic stability control settings all change, along with another step in the sound from the pipes. Unleash N mode and you pretty much unleash hell, Russell Crowe in Gladiator style.
Everything we’ve already talked about goes next level. It’s at this point we also properly welcome the crackle, because while it’s there in Sport mode, it’s positively fearsome in N and the standard pre-set Custom mode.
That’s right, you can also customise the whole shebang. Want full N mode but would prefer comfort suspension, no problem. Tap a few icons on the 8-inch infotainment system, and away you go.
The touchscreen puts everything at your fingertips, from the usual audio and SatNav systems, to lap timing, and pretty much all that sits in between. It’s easy to use, simple but not simplistic and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s DAB+ digital radio and support for the RDS radio data system too. Lovers of space will also find a 436-litre boot area, some 12 per cent more than the hatch variant, along with some nice red metallic surrounds dotted about the place.
The red highlights, and the red stitching on the steering wheel and seats boost up what is an otherwise pretty bland interior, but if you can look past that and focus on the fact the seats are comfy and it drives like an angry beast, the low rent feel won’t bother you.
Unlike the hatch version though, the raked roof line of the Fastback N means rear head room is not great for adults in general, particularly if you’re tall. The seats are firmer than the front too, lessening the comfort factor. Rear leg room is average at best.
Up against the Volkswagen Golf GTI, its more powerful R sibling, the new Ford Focus ST, Subaru WRX STi and Renault Megane R.S. though, the i30 Fastback N more than holds its own, and offers a unique looking alternative to its rivals well known body shapes.
Two options packs exist for buyers of the i30 Fastback N, including a luxury pack, and a luxury pack with a panoramic sunroof. The latter adds a dual panel sunroof with power sun blind and rear map lights next to the rear doors.
The luxury pack is the same in either option, and includes puddle lights, a luggage net in the boot, heated front seats and steering wheel, power folding side mirrors, rear privacy glass, and 12-way power adjustable front seats.
Those seats, along with the rear seating, grab some nice suede effect and leather, as part of the upgrade option, and there’s also rain sensing wipers driver seat and mirror positioning memory and a smart N key with push button start.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the first of these two option packs, but no matter the option you choose, the Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 24/7 roadside assist.
There’s also a lifetime service plan and a SatNav update plan is also available. In Engine Red (our test vehicle colour) and sans the Luxury Pack, pricing starts at around $45,950, while the optional pack sets pricing at a little over $49,000; drive away.
It comes in a range of colours that includes the exclusive Micron Grey, the Performance Blue colour we know and love from the hatch, Clean Slate, Engine Red, Phantom Black and Polar White.
Our test vehicle was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, contact your local Hyundai dealer.