2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N review: price, specs and release date

An automatic is available for the first time on the trimmed-down and updated Hyundai i30 Fastback N. We've been trying a pre-production example...

2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N hero

On sale Spring 2021 | Priced from £32,000 (est)

When is a hot hatch not a hot hatch? When it’s the freshly updated Hyundai i30 Fastback N. You see, underneath its four-door coupé bodywork – still with a handy hatch – sits the same underpinnings as the What Car? Award winning i30 N hatchback which also gets a raft of upgrades for 2021.

For a start there’s a larger front grille and redesigned headlights to bring it in line with the rest of the i30 range, with the hatch receiving a tweaked tail, too. There’s a new design of 19in alloy wheel that’s both easy on the eye and saves 14.4kg in total, in theory to the benefit of both ride and handling.

Under the bonnet the 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine has been tweaked; power is up to 276bhp, bringing the 0-62mph sprint down to 5.9sec. You can still have a six-speed manual gearbox for the ultimate in interaction, but for the first time there’s now an automatic option. Handily, our pre-production test car came fitted with this eight-speed dual-clutch auto so we could put it to the test.

2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N rear

2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N on the road

With the automatic gearbox, cogs are swapped smoothly when you’re driving like a respectable citizen, and when right pedal meets floor mat, gearchanges are fired through with a little kick. With snappy reactions,  using the paddles in manual mode is an enjoyable experience, and you can also press a button on the steering wheel to unleash the dubiously named N Grin Shift.

This primes the engine and gearbox for maximum acceleration, whatever mode you’re in, making for easy overtakes without having to wait for the gearbox to select the right ratio. That’s handy because, although there’s enough urge for sensible motoring from 2000rpm, the engine really starts working hard at 3000rpm before happily revving to the redline. It makes a great noise, too, especially with the switchable exhaust in N mode where it adds a few pops and crackles for good measure.

2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N mode switch

Speaking of driving modes, there’s lots of them, including a configurable option that allows you to tailor the engine, gearbox, steering, suspension and front differential from mild to wild. Left in Eco or Normal, the suspension takes the edge off battered roads with a ride that’s not quite as compliant as the Honda Civic Type R, but still perfectly acceptable when you consider how it behaves in the bends. 

With the suspension dialled up to Sport – the firmer N setting is best left for super-smooth Tarmac – the already eager i30 feels even more keen to corner quickly, with little body lean and plenty of grip. Left in Normal or Sport, the steering has a pleasant heft with a decent sense of connection to the front wheels, N mode is too heavy, though.

On the way into a bend you can tighten your line effectively with a lift of the accelerator pedal and without the hooligan antics of the Renault Megane RS, while the limited-slip differential channels power effectively. Stamp on the accelerator pedal and you can the diff helping as you point the car exactly where you want it to go; it delivers impressive traction without it ever becoming unruly, especially when dialled to its more aggressive modes. In other words, it feels like it went to the same finishing school as the Civic Type R – high praise indeed.

2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N dash

2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N interior

Inside you get the option of leather and Alcantara suede sports seats up front that are 2.2kg lighter than the standard ones, even with a glitzy illuminated N badge below the headrest. Of course, there’s a chunky sports steering wheel wrapped in leather and some handy shift lights to help make the perfectly timed gear change, but that’s about as far as the interior makeover goes. That means it’s not badly put together and is easy to use, but does look a bit drab.

At least the infotainment has received an upgrade, with the option of a 10.3in touchscreen infotainment system. This wasn’t quite finished in our test car, but it proved responsive to our commands and has decent graphics and easy-to-understand menus. Space up front won’t be an issue to anyone outside professional basketball, although the coupé-style roofline does limit rear head room. It’s fine for those of an average height or below, though, and leg room will be acceptable for most. As for the boot, it’s quite a bit larger than that of your average hot hatch.

Should you want a bit more detail on the i30 Fastback's space and practicality, check out our full review.

Next: 2021 Hyundai i30 Fastback N verdict and specs >>

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