A soft day for a first sighting. The lesser-spotted i30 Fastback appraised.
While the remainder of Europe desiccates amidst the most protracted heatwave of recent times, here at that question mark of a landmass at the Atlantic’s cusp, a more habitual form of summer has returned. Leaden skies, horizontal mist and high humidity.
But you didn’t come here to obtain a weather report – there are better places for that sort of thing. But it does go some way to explain the ambient conditions for today’s set of photos, taken in the fine city of Cork, itself no stranger to regular and persistent precipitation.
About a year ago, we reported on the announcement of the Hyundai i30 Fastback, a more rakish, coupé-esque variant of the i30 hatchback. Not that the regular i30 is anything but screamingly normative in a sector which is defined by its utter torpidity, but as we pointed out at the time, it’s nonetheless a welcome development on the Korean carmaker’s part to offer something more, how shall we say? Urbane?
Today however, amid the summer rain, I received my first sighting of an i30 Fastback in the wild, if indeed the Western end of Cork’s city centre can be characterised as such. It’s a strikingly handsome car, I have to admit; more so than photos (my rather paltry attempts) and other, more professional essays might have suggested.
Because if the ‘cooking’ i30 puts the stable genius of Sindelfingen’s current works into the sharpest and most unflattering of reliefs, the fastback positively stomps on the Neu-A’s spectacles, simply for dramatic effect.
Frankly, this is (unsightly bonnet shutline aside) one very accomplished design – one which wouldn’t have looked out of place in the line-up of any German so-called premium stable, had they not stampeded as one towards the baroque lounge.
The irony of course is that none of the German marques, premium or otherwise, design cars as calm and clean-limbed as this now. Parked up a few metres away ironically, was a new-generation Polo and the difference (and inferiority) in approach was almost embarrassingly palpable.
“I Care About Lines” says Hyundai’s marketing blurb for the i30 Fastback and frankly, looking at one parked in natural (if somewhat diffused) light, one can more or less concur.
Hyundai’s designers, under the assured leadership of Peter Schreyer clearly do. Their German counterparts however by comparison, (and the place where Schreyer cut his stylistic teeth in particular), quite clearly do not.
6 thoughts on ““I Care About Lines””
So much for European design superiority…
That shutline across the bonnet is rather unfortunate, but hardly enough to distract from the delicious sculpting of the bonnet itself.
Arguably my favourite part of this how they emphasised the front wheels. Audi used to be rather good at playing with FWD architecture, incidentally. Maybe Herr Schreyer has taught his people the off trick in that area…
Like most bad things about cars, we can thank the insurance industry for the bonnet shut line; It reduces repair costs in minor shunts.
Insurance industry is one reason for these strange shutlines, pedestrian protection regulations are the other.
Pedestrian friendly cars need a soft nose and a bonnet catch placed far backward to prevent a head from hitting the mechanism. Now you can have a bonnet like an Audi A4 where the catch mechanism is half a metre behind the forward edge of the bonnet (and the bonnet itself is double skinned and easily dented in this area) or you cut off the bonnet where the catch is and pull the soft plastic nose cone up.
I saw one of these a couple of months ago in the Car Park of a hotel in which I was staying in Dublin. I had a good wonder around it and ended up feeling a little petty at having picked out that bonnet shut-line, because it’s a really nice looking thing overall. There is something soothing about how it looks; strong, slick and yet calm. Comparing recent Audis and Hyundais with each other, one could easily conclude that the Hyundai looks like an Audi should, and vice versa. I’m not sure that’s how it should be (I like cars to have something of their home culture about them, but then I am not sure what should be Korean about a car, or even really what Korean culture is really like), but it does make the Hyundai the higher quality looking car to my eyes.
An even more stark comparison one might make is between the i30 and the new A-Class. The shut-line management of the bonnet, wing and bumper on the latter is pretty poor: the panel gap around the bonnet is wide and appears to vary as the plane on which it sits changes, making it look uneven and ill-fitting. A contributor to the Autocar website said that it looked as this had been done with a tin-opener! This is a problem that afflicts virtually all of current Mercedes-Benz models to a greater or lesser extent:
Returning to the i30 Fastback, it’s a pleasing design with just the right amount of detail to stop it looking bland and formless (unlike the C-Class parked across the road above!) As Mark said, the truncated bonnet and “nose cone”arrangement is to protect the former from damage in light frontal impacts, the latter being relatively cheap and sacrificial in such circumstances. That doesn’t explain or forgive the unnecessary misalignment at the base of the A-pillar though. The Peugeot 308 gets this detail right:
It’s hard to tell for me if I like it or not. I’ll have to see it in reality. From what I can tell here, it might have quite pleasant proportions with a short rear overhang. Two thumbs up to Hyundai for this! Most rakish fastbacks today suffer from a heavy back with a long overhang.
I’m not quite convinced yet with the lines around the C-D-pillar. The third window looks a bit small, the hatch shutline has strange curves in the picture seen from behind, and the rounded rear windshield base and the lentil-shaped, inversely inclined area that forms kind of a spoiler in the hatch destroy some of the clarity the design has otherwise. Maybe it’s just an effect from the photo and it’s much better in reality. I hope I can spot one of these soon, but alas, people around here aren’t that eager to buy vehicles like this.