Hyundai will bolster its big-selling i20 with a frugal new 1.0-litre engine, which could produce up to 118bhp

Hyundai is understood to be testing a new 1.0-litre variant of the i20 hatchback, which is scheduled to go on sale at the start of next year.

Expected to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the 1.0-litre version was first mooted when the second-generation i20 was unveiled at the 2013 Paris motor show. 

At last year's Paris motor show, Hyundai unveiled two new downsized, turbocharged petrol engines - a 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre. The three-cyclinder 1.0-litre unit has a capacity of 998cc and is based on the Korean firm's existing Kappa MPI engine. The engine features direct injection and a small, single-scroll turbocharger and can be tuned to produce up to 118bhp and 127lb ft. 

By comparison, Hyundai's existing 1.0-litre engine, which is available in the smaller i10, produces 65bhp. The smallest-capacity engine in the current i20 line-up is a 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol.

The i20 is currently Hyundai's second best-selling model in the UK, and introducing a frugal new petrol option with more power would help to further broaden its appeal. As well as slotting into the hatchback, it's likely that the new 1.0-litre engine will also find its way into the i20 Coupé, which went on sale in the UK this March.

Contrary to some reports, it's unlikely that these spy pictures show a hotter version of the i20. The brand has recently launched a performance i30 Turbo, and the i20 is considered to be a strong contender for a hotter version badged under the firm's N performance banner, but it's understood that there are no immediate plans to launch such a car.

Interestingly, these spy pictures show a fully camouflaged test mule - a strong step to take if the car is only being used to test a new engine. Camouflage around the front bumper hides some minor styling changes compared with the regular i20, suggesting Hyundai may be set to make some minor changes to the i20's styling as part of an early mid-life facelift.

While Hyundai is unlikely to reveal prices for the new 1.0-litre i20 until closer to the car's launch, the current i20 range starts at £10,995.

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Our Verdict

Hyundai i20

The second-generation Hyundai i20 is a very spacious, well-kitted and keenly priced addition to the competitive supermini segment, but is ultimately let down by its weak engines

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28 July 2015
A relative traded from i30 to i20 in the spring and has been happy with his 1.4 so far. Engine choice is Hyundai weak link so this has to be welcomed. Full camo for attracting eagle eyed snappers and some free advertising ?

28 July 2015
Decent small capacity petrol engines are Hyundai/Kias weak spot at the moment so these new units should answer the few criticisms of the i20. Maybe the camo is to attract attention rather than actually hiding anything, as surely its far too early for any exterior changes?

28 July 2015
European small car market is rather competitive and while Hyundai punches above its weight when it comes to price, reliability, warranty, equipment and arguably looks, the Korean car maker is some way behind in engine choice in all segments. This new engine is a step in the right direction.

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