At 1,425mm high, i30 Fastback is 30mm lower than the i30 and has an overall length of 4,455 mm - 115 mm longer than the five-door

At 1,425mm high, i30 Fastback is 30mm lower than the i30 and has an overall length of 4,455 mm - 115 mm longer than the five-door

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Audi recently confirmed the rumours that it won't be replacing the A1 and A3 once they come to the end of their lifecycles. Hyundai too has begun phasing out three-door hatchbacks due to a drop-off in demand, especially in the European region, while Kia plans to replace the Pro_cee'd with a five-door shooting brake. Might low roof C segment hatchbacks turn into a new vehicle class?

One way of creating a fad is to give it a catchy name. 'Fastback' is a term that has been around for many decades. It's still in popular use for what Ford reckons to be the world's best selling sports coupe. It's therefore easy to see why Hyundai decided on this suffix for its newest addition to the i30 line.

There is no question that HMC got the looks of this car spot on. You can also tell that the brand's determination to both make its logo and model names better recognised continues: the only badges appearing on this model are i30 and Fastback plus two examples of a stylised H. Even on the inside, the logo which adorns the steering wheel's centre is the only identifier of make. That's a gutsy move but with sales rising in all the countries where this model is sold, it's clearly working, even if two friends asked me the same question: "is it a new Honda?". When pressed, they told me they didn't think that brand's cars usually looked this good.

I know cost is all and margins can be thin but it seems a pity that some money couldn't be found to make the interior look a little more plush. Not to mention different to that of the i30 hatchback. It's functional, and contemporary, just lacking in

As per many other Hyundais, the grainy, hard plastics look to be long lasting and unscratchable.

pizzazz.

The driver has a large rev-counter on the left and a speedometer to the right. The fashion for these being hooded with a 1970s-style mock-chrome curve is clearly over - it was done to death anyway. Instead, the large gauges are set deep into a panel where sunshine is unable to reflect off the perspex which covers them.

Hyundai favours a Tron-ish luminous blue for various switches on the centre console and the effect of these is pleasing. Not quite as light a shade as it is in Fords so you could even call it the brand's interior signature colour. Unfortunately, another hue dominates and that is dark grey. The dashboard, door trims (which will take one litre bottles), carpets and seats are all either this colour or else black. At least the headliner and pillars offer some relief, being light grey.

As per many other Hyundais, the lower parts of the doors and dashboard are covered in a grainy, hard plastic. Still, it looks to be long lasting and unscratchable. Forgive me for yet again making this observation then: when is any manufacturer going to launch a car with a cabin which has superior looks, functionality and scent than what's found in Volkswagen Group models? HMC is getting closer.

Things such as intrusive and unnecessary electronic bongs, clanging doors, shiny rather than rubbery feeling plastics, carpets which look and feel like by-products from a petrochemical plant, door bins devoid of scratch- and rattle-preventing felt lining, inconsistent fonts - alternatives to these things likely cost a tiny bit more and yet surely it's money well spent. Reason being it's likely that this is why cars such as the Golf, Leon, Octavia or even the up! are able to command strong pricing. Groupe PSA seems at last to have recognised this - witness the inside of a 3008 or 5008 - and is seeing the results in surging sales for these high-priced crossovers. Hyundai is getting there but more work needs to be done.

Back to the best thing about the i30 Fastback: the way it looks. The roofline isn't in fact that low, so extra praise to the design team for getting away with the illusion. There is no need for any back seat passenger to be of average height. Even those with long legs or torso will be fine. They also won't have to suffer knees rubbing against rigid plastic thanks to the setbacks being soft. 

The boot is also nicely commodious, having an official capacity of 450l. That's in fact 55 more than what the i30's luggage compartment is rated at. Lifting the false floor panel reveals a plastic tray with various compartments where items can be stowed and protected, and below that, the press car (1.0-litre turbo petrol in Premium trim) had a space saver tyre. 

If HMG could just lift the torque output from 171Nm to around the 200Nm this would be an engine and a car transformed.

There's no electric assistance for the tailgate but that's not needed as it's very light. What a shame then that there is no wash/wipe and the back window itself is narrow when glanced from the rear-view mirror. At least it doesn't have a bar running through it, as in the Ioniq. If HMG could just lift the torque output from 171Nm to around the 200Nm this would be an engine and a car transformed.

The one thing which would put me off this particular variant is the engine. It lacks torque, while a related issue is the gearing. It's simply too tall, in that you hardly ever get to stay in sixth and often, a shift down from fifth is needed and that means extra fuel is consumed. CO2 is 120g/km, top speed is only 117mph, 0-62mph takes 11.5 seconds and Combined consumption 55.3mpg (I saw 41mpg).

The little 998cc three-cylinder unit isn't a bad engine, it just needs to be in a lighter car and paired with ratios which better suit it. Or, if HMG could lift the torque output from 171Nm to around 200Nm it would be an engine and a car transformed. You can instead order a 140PS 1.4-litre T-GDI but that's it. This is strange, as the hatchback and estate not only offer the same petrol choices but can each be ordered with 110PS or 136PS versions of HMG's 1.6-litre diesel.

As it is, the GBP22,105 i30 Fastback 1.0 120PS T-GDI is frustratingly close to being something really quite special. A bit more attention to the materials and look of the interior and some tweaking of the engine are all that is needed.

The Hyundai i30 Fastback prices span a range from GBP20,090-24,940. Prices for the high performance N variants due out later this year are yet to be announced. All cars are manufactured at HME's Nošovice factory in the Czech Republic.

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