Hyundai’s long-awaited challenger to the Ford Fiesta ST, the i20 N, has been unveiled ahead of sales beginning in spring 2021. Described as a “race-track-capable hot hatch”, it is said to take inspiration from the brand’s successful i20 World Rally Championship car.
At the core of the i20 N’s performance aspirations is a new 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. Tuned for 201bhp and 203lb ft, it is sufficient to achieve a quoted 0-62mph time of 6.7sec and a top speed of 143mph.
Hyundai claims one of the best power-to-weight ratios in the class, at 169bhp per tonne, compared with 156bhp per tonne for the 197bhp Fiesta ST.
The new engine uses an uprated turbocharger and intercooler, plus a 350 bar fuel injection system and Hyundai’s new Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology. CVVD is claimed to boost both performance and fuel efficiency compared with a traditional set-up.
The engine is mated solely to a six-speed manual gearbox that is said to be “refined and reinforced” for the i20 N and uses rev-matching tech for smoother downshifts. Launch control also features and an optional mechanical limited-slip differential (called N Corner Carving Differential) allows the front wheels to make the most of the power on offer.
Hyundai has retuned and uprated the chassis of the standard new i20 for the N model, resulting in a number of redesigned components and geometry changes. The steering is specially calibrated, too, and the front brakes are 40mm larger than the standard car’s.
Like the bigger i30 N, the i20 N offers substantial driving mode customisation via what Hyundai calls the N Grin Control System. Five modes, including a custom setting, allow drivers to adjust the engine response, stability control, transmission, steering and exhaust sound parameters. The last of these includes both a valve for the exhaust and, internally, a sound generator to enhance noise.
Further motorsport-inspired features include “left-foot braking calibration”, a brake pad wear indicator and Pirelli P Zero tyres developed specifically for the car.
The new model receives a wide-ranging cosmetic overhaul to mark it out as an N division product. The exterior is said to combine “elements of Hyundai’s rallying heritage with the company’s latest Sensuous Sportiness design identity”.