The i20 N test mule was first teased earlier this year being put through its paces on ice by Hyundai’s WRC driver Thierry Neuville. After a long wait, the all-new, race-ready hot hatch inspired by the i20 Coupe WRC rally car has finally been unveiled. As with its larger sibling, the i30 N and i30 Fastback N, the compact i20 N hot hatch has its roots in motorsport, offering dynamic performance for the adrenaline-seeking enthusiast.
The i20 N doesn’t hide its sporty pretence, emphasising the combination of high-performance elements with Hyundai’s Sensuous Sportiness design language. The i20 N has a unique, chequered-flag inspired grille design, as well as a sporty lower bumper with large air intakes for its engine. Meanwhile, the lower lip spoiler, side and rear skirts feature red accents that further hint to the i20 N’s performance.
Over on the rear, there is a deeper and broader diffuser with integrated triangular rear fog lights as seen on the i30 N and i30 Fastback N. A single, large exhaust outlet and a more massive roof-mounted spoiler further emphasising its sporty credentials.
Available in six exterior colours, the Performance Blue livery synonymous with Hyundai’s N-brand will also be available, and an optional Phantom Black roof for a two-tone finish. Moreover, the i20 N comes with matte grey 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in dedicated 215/40 R18 Pirelli P-Zero ultra-high-performance tyres with “HN” mark (standing for “Hyundai N”). N-branded performance brake callipers shoulder the responsibility of cutting speed.
The business end of the i20 N is a turbocharged 1.6-litre GDI Gamma II four-pot mated to a good-old six-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. Delivering 204hp and 275Nm of torque and a sub-1.2tonne weight, the i20 N boasts best in class power-to-weight ratio. This allows the super-mini to complete the century sprint in just 6.7 seconds, and a top speed of 230kph. With maximum torque available from just 1,750rpm, the engine’s potential for low-speed acceleration is suited for daily use. The i20 N can be optioned with the N Corner Carving Differential, a Torsion gear type mechanical limited-slip differential for enhanced grip and agility during cornering.
On the topic of the i20 N’s handling, the engineers from Hyundai have reinforced the chassis from the regular i20 to ensure it can handle the additional power and regular visits to the track. The suspension has reinforced front domes and knuckles, as well as new anti-roll bars, springs and shock absorbers for maximum handling prowess. Brakes on the i20 N are also 40mm more extensive than on the regular i20 for better heat resistance and a more consistent pedal feel.
The i20 N also comes with five driving modes that further enhance the sporty driving experience. Five drives modes are available, namely Normal, Eco, Sport, N, and N Custom. Each mode alters the throttle response, electronic stability control (ESC), exhaust note, and steering feel to suit the driving condition. N Custom mode allows drivers to individually alter that car’s parameters to maximise flexibility and driver involvement. The icing on the i20 N cake is that both Rev Matching synchronisation and Launch Control are available as standard, making even a novice drive like a professional driver. And before you ask, yes, ESC can be turned all the way off if smoking tires is your idea of having fun.
The interior design of the i20 N is broadly similar to the standard i20, but with additional sporty touches providing an appropriate atmosphere for the driver during spirited driving. Dedicated sports seats, along with N-branded sports steering wheel, gear knob and metal pedals. The 10.25-inch digital cluster also features a shift-timing indicator, giving the driver optimal timing for gear shifts. Much like the standard i20, the i20 N is equipped with a host of safety features under the Hyundai SmartSense safety system, that include features such as Forward Collision (FCA), Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).
The all-new Hyundai i20 N presents a high-performance experience that places a focus on driver involvement and fun to drive charm, instead of just raw power and speed. Wrapped up in an aggressive, yet useable compact hatch form is a fun little hatch that has all the right stuff going for it. Just goes to show you that Hyundai knows a thing or two when it comes to making hot hatches, and they are here to stay in the performance arena.