Hyundai i30N Fastback - Driven

For someone like me, who has driven over 1200 cars, it takes a lot too really put a grin on my face when I'm behind the wheel of a car. This car is an absolute ball of fun. Hyundai has taken its best-selling i30 and turned it into a seriously good fun hatch. There has been a lot of development and a host of changes, and the result is genuinely impressive.

For $42,910, it's a comprehensively equipped, properly quick and competent hot hatch. Compared to its natural opposition it is notably cheaper, but very well fitted out and there's little need for options. My test car was the new Fastback version with the longer, sportier-looking tail - giving a more sophisticated look than a hatch - and a larger boot. Hyundai offers almost the same car in the normal hatch body for about $1500 less.

The lively 202kW/353Nm 2-litre turbocharged motor is configurable along with the rest of the car. Feel like pottering around the streets like you might for everyday driving? Easy, cruisy. Switch to one of the sportier modes – especially “N” and you've got a little firecracker.

At the push of a button you have adjusted the suspension, exhaust, engine mapping and steering. The exhaust crackles and bangs on gear changes, the acceleration is fierce and the N is track ready. It even blips on downshifts... In a quick start there's a bit of front wheel scrabble and torque-steer, but nothing untoward.

Cornering grip is impressive and tied in to such a responsive engine, makes for a lot of fun. The wheels are 19x8 with sticky 235 Pirelli rubber. Turn-in is eager and the chassis tune is very well developed. Fun, fun, fun.

For now, the N comes only as a 6-speed manual – an excellent gearshift, but perhaps lack of paddle-shifts will make some tech-heads feel like they're missing out. Not me. Though apparently that's coming soon...

Inside, the i30 is very well equipped – heated, electric sports seats, a phone charging dock, decent touch screen and well-functioning systems for navigation and other controls– and even a heated steering wheel.

The active lane-keeping function can be a bit disconcerting to begin with, but I grew comfortable with its gentle nudges.

Missing – a rear window wiper and head up display. The sloping rear window also makes for a limited view through the mirror or when reversing (if you're someone who doesn't 100% trust rear view cameras). Maybe I'm being picky, but if that's all there is to criticise, then it's a very good car.

Hyundai's generous 5-year warranty even covers the N when you're on a racetrack. They know who will buy these cars, and really cater well to them.

There would be no embarrassment buying this car without a prestige brand name, knowing how Hyundai's build quality and reliability excel and the performance of the N is so exceptional. Every time I drove this car in my 2-week review period, I thoroughly enjoyed the drive.

RRP from $42,910 + ORC
Vehicle supplied by Hyundai Motor Company Australia

Copyright Paul Blank -