Hyundai has unveiled its long-awaited i20 N hot hatch, ahead of its Australian launch in the first half of 2021.
Slotting below the C-segment i30 N in the brand’s burgeoning performance-car line-up, the i20 N seeks to do battle with ‘light’ sized pocket rockets the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and (recently-discontinued) Renault Clio RS.
Under the bonnet is a new-generation version of Hyundai’s venerable 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, though changes including a new turbocharger, new intercooler, and 350-bar fuel injection see outputs bumped to 150kW of power (from 5500-6000rpm) and 275Nm of torque (from 1750-4500rpm) – 3kW/15Nm and 3kW/45Nm down compared to its Ford and Volkswagen rivals.
Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Like the Fiesta, no automatic is on offer, despite the availability of a seven-speed dual-clutch unit with the 1.6-litre engine elsewhere in the Hyundai range.
Hyundai claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.7 seconds, towards a top speed of 230km/h. The hot i20 tips the scales in at 1190kg, matching the competition-spec i20 World Rally Championship car and granting the hot hatch a class-leading (and, for younger readers, Australian P-plate legal) power-to-weight ratio of 126kW/tonne.
Helping to channel the increased torque to the tarmac over standard i20 models is an gamut of chassis tweaks, including a mechanical limited-slip front differential, a 12-point reinforced chassis, reworked suspension geometry, new front anti-roll bar, springs and dampers (enabling a 10mm-lower ride height versus standard i20s), and retuned suspension and steering systems.
Filling the arches are 18-inch grey alloy wheels wrapped in specially-designed, 215/40-profile Pirelli P Zero ‘HN’ tyres, which hide 40mm-larger, 320mm front brake discs clamped by single-piston, red-painted calipers.
Five drive modes are on offer, which adjust the engine response, stability control, steering weight and variable sports exhaust: Normal, Eco, Sport, N and N Custom. Like its larger i30 N brother, the i20 N’s lattermost N Custom mode enables the driver to individually select between Normal, Eco, Sport and Sport+ modes for each of the aforementioned parameters, via a new ‘spider’ diagram in the infotainment system.
Other performance features include rev-matching – which can be toggled on and off via a prominent red button on the steering wheel – as well as an ‘electric sound generator’, support for left-foot braking, and launch control.
Visual differences between the i20 N and lesser N Line models are relatively minor, yet noticeable in a few key areas. Enhancements up front are limited to a Tomato Red accent strip for the deeper front chin spoiler, while towards the rear changes over the N Line include sportier side skirts, red diffuser trim, a single, oval-shaped exhaust tip and a conspicuous rear roof spoiler.
Six exterior colours are available: Phantom Black, Intense Blue, Polar White, Brass, Sleek Silver and the hero Performance Blue. All bar Phantom Black (for obvious reasons, as you’ll see) are available with a contrasting Phantom Black roof.
Inside, a pair of 10.25-inch displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen join an array of N-specific touches, including unique sports seats with integrated headrests, N-branded steering wheel with N buttons, N-badged gear knob, metallic pedals, black headlining and Performance Blue accents spread throughout the cabin.
The digital instrument cluster features shift lights in sportier modes, while the infotainment display offers a ‘Performance Driving Data System’ with power, torque and boost gauges, and lap and acceleration timers.
Available active safety technologies include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, lane-following assist, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention monitoring, high-beam assist and rear-cross traffic alert. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation are also on offer.
The 2021 Hyundai i20 N is slated to touch down on Australian shores in the first half of 2021, as the sole i20 offering Down Under (given the high costs involved in importing standard variants from the Turkey plant). Pricing and specifications will be announced closer to launch.