Hyundai's Ford Fiesta ST rival will arrive next year after N-brand launch hiatus for 2019, and first prototype has emerged
8 May 2019

Hyundai will launch its first Ford Fiesta ST rival next year: the hot i20 N supermini. Now, the first shots of a prototype at the Nürburgring have emerged. 

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.

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N division will have a quiet 2019, however, with resources instead directed to launching Hyundai’s electrification strategy with the Kona Electric, updated Ioniq and further plug-in models to come. 

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

Next in line will be a long-rumoured N-branded version of the Tucson. The hot SUV will push the envelope in terms of power for Hyundai, with over 300bhp expected to give it the performance potential to take on the Cupra Ateca. It will be supplemented by a four-wheel-drive system, and is expected to arrive a few months after the i20 N. 

Matt Saunders and Lawrence Allan

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Comments
11

12 February 2019

It sounds like Hyundai has decided to wait until the third generation appears before launching an N version of the i20. It will be interesting to see if this will be a 3-door, or 5-door only as seems to be the current norm. 

12 February 2019

It has the potential to be a rapid little beast. Watching out for more detail :D

12 February 2019

Potential? It already is!

12 February 2019

If past experience is anything to go by that is. Its amazing what they achieved with the I30 N being new to the market. Expect great things.

12 February 2019
LJames wrote:

Potential? It already is!

Is it?? Is there any specs on its speed??

12 February 2019

Call me mad, but I'd quite like to see an i10N.

Kia have the 99bhp Picanto GT-Line, so Hyundai could go one better and drop the 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi in an i10N. That would be a viable competitor to the VW Up GTi too.

In these days of congestion, speed cameras everywhere, rip-off insurance premiums and cars getting damaged wherever you leave them, an i10N for an occasional blast could make more sense than a full-fat 20-odd grand hot-hatch.

22 February 2019
gavsmit wrote:

Call me mad, but I'd quite like to see an i10N.

Kia have the 99bhp Picanto GT-Line, so Hyundai could go one better and drop the 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi in an i10N. That would be a viable competitor to the VW Up GTi too.

In these days of congestion, speed cameras everywhere, rip-off insurance premiums and cars getting damaged wherever you leave them, an i10N for an occasional blast could make more sense than a full-fat 20-odd grand hot-hatch.

 

By the time this car was brought to the UK market, don't be too surprised if the list price is tickling £20k. It would be based on at least the next new model, if not two ahead, have by then a more powerful engine, 130-150ps, given the rate of increase in the sector above, and perhaps be selling into a limited marketplace. Then you will be saying...£20k for a warmed up i10?!.

9 May 2019

With regard to the reply to my comment above, if Hyundai did create an i10N using one of the 1.0 T-GDi engines (that Kia is already using in its Picanto GT-Line) then I would not expect a £20k list price or a huge delay of several new model launches or the need to use a completely new engine.

So because Kia are already making such a model using Hyundai bits, and you can buy one of those from around £11k brand new if you know where the best discounts can be had, I don't think I've made an unreasonable comment about the business case for an affordable i10N?!

Regarding the i20N, I think it could show some promise if the i30N is anything to go by, and as the pictures are of a test mule, maybe the looks will be improved by the time it goes into production too.

9 May 2019
gavsmit wrote:

With regard to the reply to my comment above, if Hyundai did create an i10N using one of the 1.0 T-GDi engines (that Kia is already using in its Picanto GT-Line) then I would not expect a £20k list price or a huge delay of several new model launches or the need to use a completely new engine.

So because Kia are already making such a model using Hyundai bits, and you can buy one of those from around £11k brand new if you know where the best discounts can be had, I don't think I've made an unreasonable comment about the business case for an affordable i10N?!

Regarding the i20N, I think it could show some promise if the i30N is anything to go by, and as the pictures are of a test mule, maybe the looks will be improved by the time it goes into production too.

 

We were...discussing official list prices, until you mentioned haggling. No mention from me of the word unreasonable, though a tad unrealistic would be there or there abouts. Given that VW seems already disappointed with the sales of the up! GTi, it seems unlikely that they will refresh it and so perhaps HMC will not see the business case for the i10N.

13 May 2019

Point taken regarding list prices (which are ridiculous for all cars now), but I'm more interested in the price I can get away with paying rather than an overly optimisitic expectation from the manufacturer - and that's where Kia and Hyundai appear to offer better value over their rivals.

An i10N maybe, like you say, be unrealistic, but a sports version using either the 1.0 T-GDi 98bhp engine (as already seen in the Kia Picanto GT-Line model, but I'm not keen on the looks or the overall warranty package when compared to Hyundai's) or the 118BHP version (to give it an 'N' edge over the Picanto) would get my money. Also, with the i30N-Line models being all show and no extra go over their more mundane trim levels, I don't think an i10 N-Line is out of the question either (and as long as it had the 1.0 turbo engine, would also get my money).

In addition, I thought the VW Up GTi was selling really well (even if the standard car isn't - which makes a sports version of a city car even more important for the manufacturer) - when I visited a dealership to test drive one they said there was a year's wait for one, hence one of the reasons I was put off that particular car.

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