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Review: Hyundai's new i30 Fastback stands out from the crowd with sexy design

The latest and final member of Hyundai's i30 range has just taken to the streets of Northern Ireland - and you won't miss its striking, bold design.

The clue's in the name - the i30 Fastback.

In an era of crossovers and SUV models the fastback is a rare beast and it's a bold move on the part of Hyundai to launch one.

But there's no denying that while the i30 hatchback and estate are best-selling models the new Fastback is the sexiest model.

Long, flowing lines, lowered roof, a perky rear end and wraparound tail lights give it a curious yet unforgettable look.

Stretching the body by 115mm over the hatch gives added legroom and increases the boot space by 50 litres, boosting it to 450, but the 25mm roof reduction will be felt by larger passengers, especially in the middle.

The view from the rear window is also restricted, though a colour reversing camera with guidelines more than compensates.

However, the big surprise comes from under the bonnet, where a peppy 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-charged petrol engine generates a sprightly 118bhp. Thanks to the lower chassis (5mm), stiffer suspension and more taut steering, the ride and handling are much improved over the standard hatchback and it behaved impeccably on more challenging twisty roads.

The steering is an absolute joy, and the level of feedback from the front wheels, especially under heavy acceleration, is second to none.

There's a nice little rasp from the three-pot at higher revs, and on the motorway it cruises effortlessly. It's quite frugal on fuel too, returning a not-too-shabby 50mpg.

There's also a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox (a seven-speed DCT is available as an option).

That motor is best described as 'sufficient'; its 242Nm of torque kicks in somewhere around 2,000rpm, and it'll rev quite happily to well beyond 4,000rpm if you ask it to.

But in practice, you'll end up shifting up sooner than that, enjoying brisk progress instead of chasing after the claimed 0-62mph time of 9.2 seconds.

Just think of it as comfortable, not rapid, and you'll be on the money.

The cabin layout could have been more adventurous but it does have a quality feel - although there are no USB ports in the rear.

On the upside, a little bird tells me that the blistering N version is in the pipeline, with the bonkers 2.0-litre twin turbo power plant with 271bhp.

The biggest lure of all is the price, which starts at £20,310.

Like the rest of the i30 range, the Fastback benefits from a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty that few rivals can match.

The ownership package includes five years of free annual 'check-ups' and five years of breakdown cover.

Safety-wise, every i30 Fastback comes with hill start assist, tyre pressure monitoring, automatic emergency braking and lane departure technology. Step up to Premium trim and technology such as blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic systems are included, too.

In a way, it's a compliment to Hyundai's developing boldness that identifying likely buyers for the i30 Fastback is a little difficult. It's more dynamic than the hatchback sibling, but unlikely to appeal to those seeking a really sporty coupe.

Yet, there is a decent amount of appeal here: it's practical, decent to drive, well built and well priced compared with the hatch version. In the same way the Audi A3 Sportback has found itself an audience, those seeking a slightly alternate family car would find plenty of positives here.

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