Hyundai i20 N – The ultimate hot-hatch?

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Hyundai is doing a lot right now. Electrifying their segment and offering everything from SUVs to performance models. Yes, the i30 N was a really good start, but once you go into the deep end you need to start swim, and with the i20 N, Hyundai is entering the Olympics. “The ultimate corner rascal” is the first sentence in the press release. Easy enough, let´s see how they have made it happen.

One of the more extreme exteriors out there. All about angles. It might make it less easily digested for the average buyer, but there is no denying that they are making stand out in the crowd. It is inspired by the i20 rally car, and I take the word inspired rather lightly. As always when making a performance variant, there is a bigger and wider front grille with different meshing, side skirts and rear bumper. Even with all of the angles, the front looks decently connected and muscular. The back is a whole different story. There are so many things going on, and with the side rear windows ending halfway towards the rear window, together with the massive rear lights, the result is not pretty.

Inside is where I believe that the i20 N shines the most. Details include a manual transmission, easy to access mode buttons on the steering wheel and a specifically designed digital gauge cluster. From the pictures, it looks amazing. Although, there will surely be a lot of plastic throughout.

It is powered by a 1.6 L four cylinder turbocharged engine, resulting in 204 hp and 275 Nm. Plenty for a car that weights 1190 kg and has a 6 speed manual. What makes this engine particularly interesting is the power curve. Peak torque is available from 1750 – 4500 rpm. A very wide power band. Peak horsepower is reached as high as 5500 – 6000 rpm, giving the sense of a car the really likes to rev. Those are very fun engines. This is achieved with Hyundai’s variable CVVD, among a host of other things. Very similar to Honda´s VTEC, it ensures the best available power throughout the rev range.

With optional mechanical LSD, 215/40 R18 Pirelli P-Zero tires, reinforced chassis and suspension, increased camber, new anti-roll bar, springs, dampers, front and rear axle, larger diameter brake discs, no part of the underpinnings have been left untouched. Obviously, you can control how the car behaves via normal modes. However, there is also the so called spider diagram. Similar to a diagram that shows a superheroes power, strength, agility, etc, you can control the stiffness of the dampers, steering, the response of the engine, exhaust note, from one simple diagram.  

This is once again a serious effort from Hyundai. Nothing halfassed. Price has not been announced, but the car will be available in the spring of 2021, and I can’t wait to pit this against the Fiesta ST, because I truly believe that this could be the best small hot hatch out there.  

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