The 2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N has arrived in Australia to give would-be buyers of the i30 N hatchback a new choice in the shape of a sleek, four-door coupe. We attended the Australian launch in South Australia to see what’s it’s all about.

The trip would see us take a drive in the all-new Hyundai from Mount Lofty, down to Cape Jervis, and then on to Australia’s newest race track, The Bend Motorsport Park, for a day of happy laps on the 7.7km International Circuit.

2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: What is it?

This is the second N model to land in Australia after the i30 N hatch. Although looks are subjective, we think it looks great. Especially if you consider the price. Here’s a 2.0-litre turbo European-looking and European-developed performance car for under $42,000 (excluding on-road costs).

The i30 Fastback N is more than the sum of its looks. Power peaks out at 202kW, with torque hitting a peak of 353Nm at just 1750rpm. If the conditions are good, an overboost function can push that torque figure to 378Nm for up to 18 seconds. For now, both the i30 N and i30 Fastback N are only available with a six-speed manual transmission, though, a dual-clutch auto model is on the cards (potentially in 2020).

The presentation part of a press launch is where you learn the juicy details about the vehicle. In the case of the Hyundai i30 Fastback N we learned that it’s basically a slightly updated version of the hatch, and with that it gets a new suspension tune – one that will become uniform around the world. It’s also more slippery through the air than the hatch version (see video below for exact details), and the boot is 55 litres bigger than the hatch for a total of 436L.

The wheelbase remains the same, but the roofline is 28mm lower and the overall length is 120mm longer. The price difference between the i30 N hatch and the i30 Fastback N is $1500, with the hatch costing $40,490 and the Fastback sitting at $41,990 (both prices excluding on-road costs). And if you’re wondering, yes, the hatch offering for 2019 is up $500 compared with 2018.

Weight distribution in the i30 Fastback N sits at 59.7:40.3, compared with the hatch’s 61.8:38.2. Despite the sedan’s protruding rear end the weight difference is only 12kg above the hatch. Up front the stabiliser bar is 0.8mm thinner than in the hatch, the (front) springs are five per cent softer, and the bump stops are softer and longer. The rear end also houses a new camber control arm.

2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: What does it come with?

The interior is where Hyundai has done some of its best work. The seats, both front and rear, are super comfortable. Especially the front. They offer lots of support and look the part, too. The driving position truly is excellent, with all the controls falling nicely at your fingertips. Visibility in the Fastback is much the same as the hatch, though rearward vision is slightly thinner.

Sitting proudly on top of the dash is Hyundai’s latest 8.0-inch touch-screen media interface which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This interface also acts as the portal for the N performance driving settings. From there you can enter ‘Custom’ mode to adjust the front diff, suspension, exhaust sound, rev matching, engine responsiveness, and more. If you’re not in the mood to fiddle or create your own custom settings you can always pick from Eco, Normal, Sport, or N.

Other standard equipment includes lots of N Performance insignia, Hyundai SmartSense, no less than seven airbags, rear camera and parking sensors, LED DRLs, LED headlights, LED taillights, and dual-zone climate control. Buyers who like things plush can go for the Luxury Pack, which adds synthetic suede/leather interior, heated front seats and steering wheel, 12-way power front seats, driver’s seat memory system, front parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, smart key and push-button start, as well as a nifty wireless phone charger. All for just $3000 on top of the asking price. If you want to add a panoramic glass sunroof to the list add another $2000.

2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: Fun factor

We drove the Hyundai i30 Fastback N on the road for about an hour and a half. Much like the hatch the Fastback is a pleasure to drive, be it on country roads or around town. The ride is compliant and poised, and road holding is right up there with the best hot hatches (hot sedans?) on the market. The changes to the balance and suspension don’t stick out right away, but there’s definitely a feeling that it’s slightly more sorted.

Out on the track the i30 Fastback N also feels superb. It’s probably fair to say that The Bend is a track that’s designed for vehicles that have quite a bit more power than the i30 Fastback N, but nonetheless it’s a great place to extract everything out of the i30 N. The first thing you notice is the relentless punch on tap. The 2.0-litre turbo engine never puts up a fuss or feels lazy. Bottom-end and mid-range punch is the engine’s greatest asset. You can leave a corner in a higher gear and not bother to change down and it just gets up and goes.

The brakes are also worthy of mention, namely because of the repeated abuse they were subject to during the test day. Sure, the pedal did get a little spongey after repeated laps and hitting the braking markers at 200km/h, but we feel this is really only down to our test car wearing factory pads – a more performance-orientated pad would probably fix this up.

It’s a real joy to throw the Fastback from corner to corner. It’s actually a little bit tail happy if you want to get frivolous with the steering wheel, which is quite refreshing. And addictive, too. It does everything you ask of it with minimal to zero fuss. Over and over.

While the automatic version is still a while off, the spoils of how much fun a manual is on a race track is almost forgotten nowadays. The shifts in the i30 Fastback N are slick, and the switchable auto rev-matching is pretty much perfect. The steering is also very sharp and precise. And again in terms of handling, there’s a lot to be said about this front diff; it allows you to bury your foot quite early when exiting a corner, ripping you around like few other front-drive cars in this segment. And then there’s the noise every time you change gears. Snap, crackle, pop.

2019 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: Should you buy one?

Why not. If you have a spare $40-odd-thousand-bucks laying around, what could be worse than owning one of the newest performance hatches/sedans on the market? It ticks all the boxes as far as we’re concerned; it sounds great; goes great; looks great (yes, looks are subjective, but this writer thinks it looks the business); has lots of cool standard tech; and it ain’t a bad track car that can definitely take a beating… and then you can drive it home, too.

How does it rate against rivals?
  • Practicality
  • Engine and gearbox
  • Cornering talent
  • Engine sound
  • Value for money

Final word

It’s actually hard to find something we don’t like about the i30 Fastback N. It’s really that good. And to think this is only the start for Hyundai in terms of performance models. Crazy. Vive la Hyundai!

Huge fan of long road trips. Love the cackle of a bent-eight first thing in the morning. And love a good flat white and eggs bene’ at my local café. Swing more towards European and Australian muscle more than American or Japanese, but I’m always willing to applaud anything that’s built with the driver in mind.