What Car? says...
It may be hard to imagine, but the Hyundai i30 Fastback owes its very existence to cars from premium brands with far higher price tags.
The i30 Fastback aims to give you the same sleek looks as costlier models that blend coupé styling with saloon levels of practicality, but for much less money.
When you look at possible rivals, the i30 Fastback manages to undercut the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé and the Mercedes CLA by quite some margin. It doesn't skimp on equipment or fun, though – Hyundai only sells it in the i30 range's top trim, N Line.
So how is it actually different to the regular Hyundai i30 – which also has five doors and a hatchback boot? Well, the Fastback has has a redesigned nose and the roofline has been lowered by a couple of centimetres or so, and taper into a ducktail at the rear.
As with many coupés the question remains: do the looks justify the higher price tag and any reduction in practicality they bring? That’s what we’ll tell you over the next few pages of this Hyundai i30 Fastback review, as we put it through its paces in key areas including performance, practicality and comfort.
Once you've had a read and decided whether the i30 Fastback or another make and model is for you, you can find the lowest prices by searching our free What Car? New Car Buying pages. They have plenty of the best new coupé deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The only engine choice for the Hyundai i30 Fastback is the 1.5 G-TDi petrol engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system. Complementing the sporty N Line trim level, the engine produces 157bhp and feels sufficiently potent from low revs, making overtaking and getting up to motorway speeds a doddle.
In fact, that power allows the i30 Fastback to sprint from 0-62mph in 8.6sec, which is faster than the 9.2sec it’ll take the BMW 218i Sport Gran Coupé. Surprisingly, despite being heavier than the regular Hyundai i30 with the same engine, it manages to maintain the same performance figures.
When it comes to gearboxes, Hyundai gives you a choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. If you’re after something a bit sportier (it is called the Fastback, after all), we’d recommend going for the manual. While the clutch can be a bit tricky to get used to, it has a short throw and makes you feel more connected to the car.
The automatic gearbox doesn’t come with paddles to change gears, so you don’t feel as involved as with the manual. It pulls off quickly from junctions but isn’t the smoothest as it flicks through the gears.
So what’s the i30 Fastback like when you hit a winding country road? Well, it sits 5mm lower than the standard i30 and features suspension that’s been stiffened to tighten up what was previously quite a soft package. The firmer set-up helps to limit body lean and increase grip, making it quite a fun car when you go for a spirited drive.
To top it off, the well-weighted steering gives you a good idea of what the front wheels are up to. You can switch driving modes to change the extent of that weight – we’d avoid the sportiest option, as many will find that it adds a bit too much heft.
Of course, the downside to all of the performance-based changes is that they compromise how the car feels when you’re just cruising around. The Fastback isn't uncomfortable, but the stiffened suspension means that the ride is quite firm, and you feel bumps and divots on uneven roads.
It’s also not the quietest coupé while you’re at the wheel. You won’t hear the engine unless you floor the accelerator, but you will be aware of the constant road noise when you get up to motorway speeds. The softer and quieter Mercedes CLA is far more comfortable and relaxing on a long journey.
The interior layout, fit and finish
You sit quite low down in the Hyundai i30 Fastback, adding to the sportier feel than the regular Hyundai i30. Don’t expect to feel like you’re climbing into a sports car, but it's lower than, for example, the Mercedes CLA. The pedals are well placed, and the driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive, with electric lumbar adjustment as standard.
It’s safe to say that Hyundai isn’t known for its visually exciting interiors, and the i30 Fastback does little to change its reputation here. Even so, most of the areas you’ll touch regularly feel pleasant enough to your fingertips and the only notable area of scratchy plastics is around the handbrake.
In terms of fit and finish, the i30 Fastback is impressive, with contrasting seat stitching, metal pedals and a sports steering wheel that’s similar to the one you get in an even sportier version, called the i30 Fastback N.
It's not the most graphically sharp system out there, but it is easy to navigate and quick to respond. There are shortcut buttons around the screen that make it easier to switch between the sat-nav, radio and some other functions as you drive.
What is disappointing, though, is the lack of rearwards visibility. The tapering roofline means that all we could see in the rear-view mirror was the dark headliner. That's the inevitable consequence of the styling, and is eased by the standard-fit reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Despite the Hyundai i30 Fastback’s sloping roofline, the low driving position mean that there’s an impressive amount of head room in the front, and two six-footers will fit easily. Leg room is generous and the interior is wide enough that no one will feel cramped.
There’s also a good amount of storage for all of your gubbins, with doorbins that can easily hold a water bottle, an opening at the bottom of the centre console for your phone and a deep storage area in the central armrest.
Rear passenger space is not usually great in coupés (even five-door hatchback ones), but the i30 Fastback does okay here. Rear head room is less generous than in the regular Hyundai i30 and six-footers will find their heads grazing the roof lining, but it’s not too bad overall.
The rear seatbacks split 60/40 to fold down, but don't slide or fold upwards to provide more space. You do get a ski hatch when you fold down the centre armrest, allowing you to easily carry long items.
The boot has a capacity of 450 litres – 55 litres more than in the standard i30 and 20 litres more the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé offers. In real world terms, that should be enough for most situations, and it can swallow a couple of buggies or a large weekly shop with ease.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Hyundai i30 Fastback is quite a lot cheaper than premium five-door coupés such as the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé and the Mercedes CLA. The news isn’t quite so good when you look at depreciation though – both those rivals will retain considerably more of their value over three years.
Despite the i30 Fastback's mild-hybrid engine technology (which can improve efficiency and performance), the official figures suggest that it’ll manage 44.8mpg, which is disappointing when you consider that the 2 Series Gran Coupé should return almost 50mpg. The Fastback’s CO2 emissions are higher too, although it won’t break the bank if you’re a company car driver aiming to keep your benefit-in-kind payments low.
In terms of reliability, the standard Hyundai i30 finished near the top of the family car category in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. Hyundai as a brand also did very well, claiming joint third place (with Suzuki) out of the 30 manufacturers included.
Better still, the Fastback comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty that few rivals can match. The ownership package includes five years of free annual check-ups and five years of breakdown cover.
Safety-wise, every i30 Fastback comes with hill-start assistance, automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure assistance, blind-spot monitoring and a cross-traffic alert system. It has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP but the regular i30 achieved a full five-star safety rating.
You get a standard alarm and immobiliser, but Thatcham Research has yet to publish security test results for the model.
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|RRP price range||£22,700 - £37,135|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||3|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||33.6 - 53.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||5 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,212 / £2,628|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,424 / £5,256|