The new Hyundai i30 hasn't been around for long, but engineers in Seoul have frantically been working to expand the range. Along with the first N Performance model, the i30 has been turned into a slick, four-door Fastback, designed to mimic more expensive four-door coupes from Audi and BMW.
That's right, we've reached the point where Hyundai is building Euro-inspired cars in niche body styles. It also has a fast-developing performance division based at the Nurburgring, which released its first model overnight. Korean cars are no longer the also rans of the motoring world, they're matching it with the best.
Although the changes to the basic i30 shape are mostly found at the back of the car, the nose of the Fastback is slightly different as well. It debuts a new grille design that will start featuring across the Hyundai range from next year, and the unique front splitter is more aggressive that the one on the hatchback.
But the big news is down back, where the practical hatchback roofline has been traded for a sloping coupe roof. It's actually 25 mm (0.98 in) lower than the roof on the hatch and the body is 115 mm (4.5 in) longer, for an elongated-coupe look reminiscent of the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 6 Series GT. Speaking of things borrowed from the Germans, the rear spoiler and brake lights have clearly been influenced by the Mercedes C-Class Coupe.
Those sportier good locks are backed up by some suspension tweaks that are designed to make the car feel, well, sportier. The car sits 15 mm (0.6 in) lower than the regular hatchback, and it's 15 percent stiffer as well. According to Hyundai, that should make the car sit flatter in the corners with minimal impact on ride comfort.
Power will come from a choice of two gasoline engines: a 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo making 138 hp (101 kW), or a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine making 119 hp (87 kW). Two diesel options will be offered after launch, and the entire range will be offered with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.
As you'd expect, the i30 Fastback will be offered with a full range of active safety features. Along with auto-emergency braking, the car has adaptive cruise control that works up to 180 km/h (112 mph), blind spot warnings and lane-keeping assist. People with lots of points on their license will be pleased to know the car warns you about changing speed limits, too.
Beside a drop in rear headroom, the interior of the Fastback is unchanged from the hatch. That means Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and Hyundai has made high-quality materials a focus. We're driving the i30 hatchback next month, and will be interested to see how the cabin compares to the long-running class standard VW Golf.
The i30 Fastback was launched at a Hyundai event overnight and will be available across Europe at the start of 2018. There's no word on a wider release as yet.
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