While the previous i30 was content with being just a hatch, the new version - or rather its creator, Hyundai - has bigger, faster, more exciting. Literally.
We already know this third-generation model will be a more globally available car, even offered as an Estate alongside the upcoming ’N’ hot hatch, ostensibly to bother Volkswagen’s Golf on as many fronts as possible.
The new development comes from words uttered by Thomas Burkle, now Chief Designer at Hyundai Europe (previously of BMW and Mercedes-Benz), who confirmed that the South Korean automaker is tantalisingly close to revealing a coupe-ish two-door i30 N ‘fastback’ that should be in showrooms by the end 2018.
Hyundai has toyed with hatch-derived two-door coupes before and most recently showed off their quite stunning 300kW RN30 concept in 2016. Prior to this, they have offered the Veloster to mixed results, and this fastback i30 could be perceived as a direct replacement for it.
Mechanically, there shouldn’t be all that much separating the ‘regular’ i30 N hatch to this new sleeker mystery model, with powertrain, suspension, wheelbase, interior, and tech being near identical. However, it will likely be pegged as more of an enthusiast option that sacrifices the practicality of rear doors for a sleeker profile and a compromised rear passenger area.
Other automakers have experimented with this spin on the 5-door hatch before to frame a faster and more desirable model, such was the third-generation Volkswagen Scirocco to the Mk6 Golf/Golf GTI. More examples include the Holden/Opel Astra GTC, the 4th-generation Honda Civic Type R, and the Renault Megane RS.
Of those competitor cars mentioned, many of them have been phased out or lack any confirmed direct successors, but Hyundai clearly sees potential in this space, sounding quite confident that the i30 N-based fastback model will be met with strong critical praise and sales success - Burkle even stating that they have a “sensational” car on the way.
The regular i30 N hatch is slated to be unveiled fully at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in September, probably followed by a launch toward the end of the year with this fastback variant expected to complement the expanding N high-performance division portfolio with a mid-to-late 2018 showroom debut after being unveiled earlier next year.
The i30 N will be offered in two states of tune for its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, 184kW or 202kW, mated initially to a six-speed manual transmission and reaching the front wheels via a standard limited slip differential.
Going forward, a Hyundai will be updating it with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and adaptive suspension, headline features that should appear on the fastback as well. Can’t wait to see it.