In what seems like a pretty slow year for the automotive industry, Hyundai reminds us to have a little fun with the global debut of the i20 N hot hatchback.
There's no doubt that Hyundai is really kicking up a storm with their latest and greatest models, but let us not forget that they are also seeing big success in the rally arena with their entries in the World Rally Championship. From their program there, they eventually transitioned to making hot hatchbacks for mass consumption - first with the Veloster Turbo, and eventually the i30 N hot hatchback.
This year sees the introduction of the i20 N, which is obviously based on the i20 hatchback (that we don't get here really). As is the case for pocket rockets in its class, it is powered by the Gamma II 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine you find in other Hyundai models, albeit singing to a tune of 204 PS from 5,500 rpm and 275 Nm of torque between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm. With a featherweight 1,190 kg to its name, it's a pretty potent proposition.
To distinguish itself from the regular i20, the i20 N sits lower by 10 millimeters at the front, with model-specific side skirts and side sills, as well as a more aggressive rear spoiler and sharper blacked-out front grille with larger air intakes for better air flow to the engine. The exhaust tip is a singular large oval, offset to the right of the rear and inset within the rear diffuser.
The experience on the inside is also pretty starkly different for the driver, at the very lease. The steering wheel is straight out of a European super sedan, with quick-access preset buttons below the steering wheel spokes, and a Rev button that toggles automatic rev-matching. There's even a shift indicator for the driver, as well as a data logging system that keeps track of your telemetry when attacking the track.
More than just a hotter powertrain and sharper looks, the i20 N comes with plenty of other features as you would expect from a proper Hyundai N product. The chassis has been reinforced at 12 different hard points, and the steering rack is quicker by 3.2% for a snappier feel when you're driving up the twisties. The rear remains a torsion beam type design, though as the French have proven this is hardly something to fret about. Brakes are uprated too, as is necessary for a hot hatch.
There are multiple colours, and multiple options as well. Buyers can choose from the signature Performance Blue, Intense Blue, Polar White, Sleek Silver, Brass, and Phantom Black - all with the possibility of a two-tone colour scheme with a gloss black roof with the exception of Phantom Black of course. You can also get your i20 N with a limited-slip differential up front, a valve exhaust system, an extra electric sound generator, left-foot braking calibration, a brake pad wear indicator, and 18-inch wheels.
Even a hot hatchback could do with some safety features, which is why the i20 N comes packed with the SmartSense package of advanced driver assistance systems, including forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, intelligent speed limit assist, lane centering assist, blind-spot warnings, and autonomous emergency braking. Being launched in Europe in the first quarter of 2021, we're not even sure we'll be getting it here - but we can definitely hope.