The prototype bears all the hallmarks of a faster and more focused version of the regular i20. There's the usual bigger wheels covering more serious-looking brakes, the ride height has been lowered, and there's a new dual exhaust tailpipe.
Closer inspection of the front bumper also reveals what looks like an intercooler squeezed behind, a classic sign of a substantial power upgrade under the bonnet. Shots of the interior also reveal the same gearshifter as the i30 N, while a body-stiffening strut brace sits behind the rear seats.
Plans for the Korean maker’s N performance sub-brand were first detailed in 2017, before the first production model, the warmly received i30 N, followed at the end of the year. The i30 N Fastback then arrived a year later.
After years of rumours, company sources previously revealed to Autocar that the i20 supermini will be the next N-car, and is likely to be ready for an unveiling by early 2020. Original rumours cited a release for such a car sometime in 2018, but the launch was pushed back down the list of priorities.
The i20 N’s engine changes and chassis modifications will mirror that of the i30 N, so expect significantly more firepower than the supermini’s existing engine range and suitable lowering and stiffening of the car’s suspension, alongside performance brakes and more direct ratio steering.
The most likely engine candidate to boost performance to the desired level will be the brand’s widely turbocharged 1.6-litre T-GDI motor. It offers 174bhp in the Tucson SUV, but a figure of at least 200bhp will be necessary if Hyundai wants to successfully mix with the class big hitters such as the Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI.