Powerful small cars seem to be a dying breed. There's still the Ford Fiesta ST or VW Polo GTI. But the Cupra Ibiza, Audi S1, and Renault Clio R.S. are no longer granted. That's why we followed the development of the new Hyundai i20 N all the more greedily. After various sightings and teasers, Hyundai now shows its full splendor.
Why does Hyundai offer a small N-model at a time when "combustion engine" is almost a swearword? Well, Hyundai has many electric cars in its portfolio, giving the automaker the space in its lineup, especially since more models are coming under the Ioniq sub-brand. N is also a halo brand for the company, and the i20 WRC has been racing through the World Rally Championship for years.
Gallery: Hyundai i20 N
But enough philosophizing, let's take a close look at the new Hyundai i20 N. Of course, the typical Hyundai N color catches the eye first – a kind of baby blue officially called "Performance Blue." The i20 N stands on 18-inch aluminum rims with a massive roof spoiler looking quite striking. There is also an additional air intake I the front bumper and a separate grille with an N logo.
Also included are modified rear lights, a rear bumper with a diffuser, and a triangular rear fog light. Unique side skirts and a total of seven exterior colors round off the appearance, creating a sharp-looking hatch that mixes the i20 N Line with the hotter and larger i30 N. Inside, there's a black interior with "Performance Blue" accents, sport seats with integrated headrests, a sports steering wheel, metal pedals, unique instrument cluster graphics, and a special gear knob.
Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that features an intercooler and special water pump. It produces 204 horsepower (152 kilowatts) and 202 pound-feet (275 Newton-meters) of torque, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 171 hp (127 kW) per ton. We calculated high, believing the i20 N should weigh around 2,645 pounds (1,200 kilograms). Hyundai has not yet announced the car's acceleration numbers or its top speed. However, the heavier Kia Ceed, which also sports a 204-hp mill, hits 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) takes 7.4 seconds. A Ford Fiesta ST needs 6.5 seconds.
Out of the box, Hyundai will give i20 N customers one gearbox choice – a six-speed manual. According to Hyundai, the company could add an eight-speed dual-clutch unit if there's customer demand, but an auto gearbox isn't planned. Hyundai beefed up the manual gearbox with a tougher clutch. A mechanical limited-slip differential is also available, while a red button on the steering wheel enables "Rev Matching."
Launch control is also available, as are several drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, N, and N Custom. The last one allows drivers to select various settings, like engine response and sound, steering, ESP, and rev-matching, suited to their tastes.
According to Hyundai, the chassis of the regular i20 has been re-tuned and reinforced to improve drivability and handling. The suspension has new joints, springs, and shock absorbers. It also features high-performance brakes with larger front discs – 12.6 inches (320 millimeters), up 1.5 inches (40 mm).
The new Hyundai i20 N will launch in early 2021, and pricing remains under wraps. A Ford Fiesta ST starts around €24,000 ($28,382) at current exchange rates. The i20 N should fall close to that, but with better standard equipment.