The Hyundai i20 N Is A Fun Little Hot Hatch

Hyundai has been knocking it out of the park recently with its sporty hatchbacks. 

Just a week after the launch of the all-new Hyundai i20 hatchback, the Korean automaker has now pulled the covers off its performance variant in the form of this Hyundai i20 N. 

Supposedly inspired by the i20 WRC rally car, this i20 N is the latest fully fledged N-car to come out from the South Korean marque. Joining the ranks of the i30 N and Veloster N that has received much praise worldwide, this most affordable performance offering from Hyundai is also perhaps the one that automotive enthusiasts should most want. 

Aesthetics-wise, the i20 N is certainly a feisty little machine. A new front bumper with larger air intakes and the N-car signature chequer flag patterned grille with the N logo adds some aggression to Hyundai’s Sensuous Sportiness design language. 

Moving down the side, N-branded callipers hide behind matte grey 18 inch alloys, which themselves are tucked beneath flared arches, which are incidentally also 10 mm lowered on this performance model. The Tomato Red colour that begins from front lip spoiler, run along the bespoke side skirts, before ending on the sporty rear bumper with built-in diffuser-like elements and triangular rear fog light, contrasts nicely too with the signature N-car Performance Blue colour. A WRC-inspired rear spoiler and smoked black tail lights caps off the sporty design of the i20 N nicely. 


A sporty design warrants a sporty powertrain, and the i20 N certainly delivers on that, as under the hood of this entry-level N car is a peppy little 1.6 litre T-GDi four cylinder engine. While it might not be as hot as its bigger performance oriented brothers, power figures of 204 PS and 275 Nm of torque is adequate enough. The 0-100 km/h time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h is similarly respectable for this compact hot hatch. Moreover, what enthusiasts will probably drool over is the fact that the i20 N is only available with a six-speed manual transmission, featuring standard rev-matching and even launch control. 

Speaking of what enthusiasts will drool over, it will probably be this little Hyundai’s performance features. Improved suspension, brakes and steering over the regular hatchback is all well and good, as are the standard variable muffler control, left-foot braking calibration and bespoke Hyundai N Pirelli P Zero performance tires. It is however the N Grin Control System drive mode selector that Hyundai is touting for a thrilling driving experience, especially considering the fact that Hyundai claims that the Electronic Stability Control can be turned fully off on the i20 N. Furthermore, the i20 N could also be had with N Corner Carving Differential, a Mechanical Limited Slip Differential (m‑LSD) for even more driving fun. 

Stepping inside the i20 N, all the usual i20 practicalities remain, as is the standard Hyundai SmartSense Advanced Drivers Assistance System safety features. There are however a few N trinkets scattered around the cabin to distinguish this performance variant from its hum-drum siblings. Such as the bespoke N sports seats, in addition to the N steering wheel, N gear knob and N metal pedals. Performance blue accents are also standard, as is a black headlining. On the tech front, a shift timing indicator informs keen drivers on the best time to shift up. 

In the age where hot hatches are now 400+ hp four wheel drive rocketships, the i20N ticks all what one could possibly want out of a hot hatch and nothing more. It is the essence of a hot hatch if you will. 

On sale in Europe early next year, the question now is whether Hyundai Malaysia will bring it over here. Despite the market being ripe for a fun little hot hatch however, it is sad to think that Malaysians still can’t look past that Hyundai badge, even if this looks to fulfil every Malaysian petrolhead’s desires. 

PRESS RELEASE: The ultimate corner rascal: Hyundai Motor has revealed its latest high-performance model, the all-new i20 N, a racetrack capable hot hatch inspired by the i20 WRC rally car.

As with other Hyundai N models, it offers fun to drive thanks to its exclusive engine performance and dynamic technology innovations. The latest model joins the i30 N and i30 Fastback N among Hyundai’s high-performance line-up in Europe to satisfy performance-oriented enthusiasts.

The all-new i20 N has its roots in motorsport. It is inspired by the i20 Coupe WRC, a rally car based on a highly modified version of the road-going Hyundai i20, and thus has the same weight as the minimum weight required in FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The model has led Hyundai to success: in 2019, Hyundai was crowned the WRC manufacturers’ champion after securing four wins during the season. To date, Hyundai has scored a total of 17 wins at the highest level of international rally competition.

An uncompromising and powerful exterior design

The all-new i20 N presents an uncompromising and powerful look to match its undiluted high-performance experience. The exterior design of the model emphasises its high-performance nature by combining elements of Hyundai’s rallying heritage with the company’s latest Sensuous Sportiness design identity, which creates an emotional appeal for drivers. It adds aerodynamically functional forms to the sporty and dynamic styling of its base model, the class-leading Hyundai i20, such as a 10 mm lower ground clearance.

The front is dominated by the front bumper with a larger air intake for the turbo engine. The wide radiator grille with N logo features a unique pattern inspired by a chequered flag, underlining the all-new i20 N’s racetrack capability. Below the grille, a lip spoiler featuring Tomato Red accents further enhances the model’s performance-oriented design. This colour extends to the new side skirt and the rear, emphasising its width. Meanwhile, unique side sills reinforce the link between the front and rear of the car.

At the rear, a distinctive WRC-inspired roof spoiler enhances downforce and underscores the aerodynamic nature of the all-new i20 N so that it is fun to drive on any road and helps maintain stability even at high speeds. A rear bumper with built-in diffuser-like elements and triangular rear fog light echo the iconic light shape found on the i30 N and i30 Fastback N. In addition, a big single exhaust emphasises the high-performance potential of the engine.

Other design highlights include front LED headlamps, while the darkened tail lamps resemble a black diamond. The all-new i20 N’s sporty credentials are further accentuated by its bespoke 18‑inch alloy wheels with a grey matte finish and N-branded brake callipers.

The all-new i20 N comes in six exterior colours including the N signature Performance Blue livery, which is exclusive to Hyundai N models, and an optional Phantom Black roof for a two-tone style. Additional Tomato Red accents further emphasise Hyundai’s motorsport DNA.

Interior design offers a high-performance driving space

Inside, the all-new Hyundai i20 N represents a high-performance driving space with a host of N-specific advanced and high-tech premium features. This includes dedicated sport seats with an integrated headrest that are unique to the all-new i20 N, as well as N steering wheel and N gear knob and sporty N metal pedals. The black interior features Performance Blue accents throughout and all‑black head lining.

The digital cluster and AVN screen include features such as the variable LED red zone, which varies according to engine oil temperature, and the shift-timing indicator, which shows the driver the best time to switch gears.

A turbocharged fast-power engine makes the all-new i20 N focused on fun to drive

The all-new i20 N is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged GDi engine with a six-speed manual transmission (6MT). This engine is the first of a new generation to feature in a European Hyundai model, and delivers a maximum output of 204 PS and a maximum torque of 275 Nm for ultimate power delivery. With 1,190 kg of weight just as the i20 Coupe WRC, the power-to-weight ratio is one of the best in class. The all-new i20 N delivers a maximum speed of 230 km/h, and can go from 0‑100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds.

The engine offers flat power, which ensures high responsiveness and improved acceleration for even more fun on the road or on the racetrack. Flat power provides more torque and power at lower RPMs, thereby utilising more of the engine’s potential in everyday driving situations. The all-new i20 N keeps maximum torque between 1,750 and 4,500 RPM, and achieves maximum power between 5,500 and 6,000 RPM. This improves acceleration in the mid- and high-speed range and delivers consistent high performance in a variety of driving conditions.

The all-new i20 N’s engine features an exclusive turbo system which is cooled by an intercooler and the water circulation of the engine. A 350-bar high-pressure injection rail provides for fuel atomization, a faster engine response, as well as a more efficient mixture preparation.

The 1.6 T-GDi engine utilises Hyundai’s new Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology to further optimise fuel efficiency. The CVVD regulates the duration of valve opening and closing according to driving conditions, achieving a boost in performance and three per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.

Meanwhile, the 6MT has been refined and reinforced especially for the all-new i20 N to cope with higher RPM, torque and Launch Control to give its drivers a dynamically immersive driving experience. The all-new i20 N can also be equipped with the N Corner Carving Differential, a Mechanical Limited Slip Differential (m‑LSD) that utilises a mechanically controlled Torsion gear type to control the power transfer to the front wheels. It provides optimum traction and enhances grip on every corner for a sportier and more agile ride.

High-performance features for the thrill of driving

The all-new i20 N is equipped with a number of dedicated functionalities for a sporty fun-to-drive experience. The N Grin Control System offers customers a high level of customisation, with five distinct drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, N and N Custom. The drive modes adjust the parameters of the engine, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), exhaust sound and steering in order to optimise them for a variety of driving conditions. In the N Custom mode, drivers can select from Normal, Eco, Sport and Sport+ settings for each of the mentioned components to match driving preferences and road conditions via a “Spider diagram” on AVN screen. Moreover, dedicated N keys on the steering wheel flexibly allow any type of pre-sets to be mapped according to individual needs. For even sportier pleasure of driving, the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can be operated in three stages: on, sport and fully off.

Like the i30 N, the all-new i20 N boasts a range of high-performance driving features. Rev Matching synchronises the engine to the output shaft and has its own dedicated activation button on the steering wheel. This allows smoother or sportier downshifts, depending on the drive mode. With Launch Control, the engine and traction control are optimised for quick acceleration from a standing start just like a professional race driver.

Other motorsport-inspired features include an electric sound generator, variable muffler control for the perfect exhaust sound, as well as left-foot braking calibration, a brake pad wear indicator (PWI), and dedicated 215/40 R18 Pirelli P-Zero ultra-high-performance tyres with “HN” mark (standing for “Hyundai N”).

Ride and handling

Hyundai’s engineers have retuned and refined the regular i20’s chassis, suspension, brakes and steering in order to deliver more agile ride and handling so that the all-new i20 N is capable of handling the thrills of the racetrack.

The chassis has been reinforced at 12 different points to ensure smoother handling and usability on any road and in all weather conditions. This includes a redesigned undercover and an additional bracket.

The suspension features reinforced front domes and knuckles with adjusted geometry. This includes increased camber for better traction and five fixation points for the wheel as well as a new anti-roll bar, new springs and shock absorbers for maximum driving fun. 

The all-new N Power Sense Axle at the front combined with a Dual Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (CTBA) at the rear provide higher stiffness for improved ride and handling performance. Meanwhile, the high-performance brakes feature an increased front disc, which is 40 mm larger than the regular i20, for increased fading resistance and a more consistent brake pedal feel.

The all-new i20 N offers direct and precise steering for confident, sporty driving through a reduced steering ratio of 12.0 (i20: 12.4) and its specifically tuned column-mounted motor driven power steering system (C-MDPS).

A comprehensive safety package

The all-new i20 N is equipped with Hyundai SmartSense Advanced Drivers Assistance System features and complies with the highest European safety standards. This includes features such as Forward Collision Assist City / Interurban / Pedestrian (FCA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).

Hyundai SmartSense safety features:

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Forward Collision Avoidance Assist-City / Interurban / Pedestrian / Cyclist (FCA)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW)
  • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA)
  • Driver Attention Warning System incl. Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA) (DAW+)
  • High Beam Assist (HBA)
  • Lane Following Assist (LFA)
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW)
  • Rear view monitor with parking guidance (RVM)

Tech and connectivity

The all-new i20 N features a Performance Driving Data System to monitor and improve the driver’s track skills. This feature saves and displays driving data, including information on PS, torque, turbo boost. It also comes with a lap and acceleration timer.

The all-new i20 N comes with an optional 10.25-inch LCD touchscreen navigation system with dedicated N content, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It is also available with the latest version of Bluelink, Hyundai’s state-of-the-art connected car services. This offers a wide range of Connected Car services such as Hyundai LIVE Services, Connected Routing and Last Mile Navigation, as well as remote features via the Bluelink smartphone app. Bluelink comes with a free five-year subscription.

The all-new i20 N will be available across Europe from spring 2021.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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