Hyundai i20 N – Car Dealers Magazine


Could someone check on Hyundai? They say the last 18 months have affected everyone in a weird way, but our new fixation with the anti-bac wipes and the two-meter distance doesn’t have anything about the sudden change in personality of a certain southern automaker. Korean.

I’m not talking about Hyundai and Kia’s pivot to producing truly competitive cars – that was over ten years ago, keep going. What took a little longer was for Hyundai to find its mojo: not letting its models sit like the simple Jane cousins ​​of the Kia models written by Peter Schreyer.

So here we have the very first interesting Hyundai i20: a car whose previous unenviable role was not to overshadow the Kia Rio. The styling is certainly an improvement, as is the interior, but it’s not here just to be a cool supermini: we brought it to Wales because Hyundai kind of built a Fiesta ST killer, and on its first attempt.

As you will understand, this is the i20 N refined at the Nürburgring – following on from other models such as the i30 N, the i30 N Fastback and… oh that’s it. Dismissing its apparent lack of pedigree would be a mistake, however – Hyundai’s performance division isn’t exactly kidding.

Just as Kia knew its best chance for success in Europe was to hire a famous European designer, Hyundai looked for no one other than BMW M division star Albert Biermann – and just five years later it It is clear that the investment is paying off. Like its big brother, the i20 N has all the visual gems you’d expect from a screaming hot hatch – front and rear dividers, that all-important rear trunk spoiler, and of course the signature red trim and baby blue paintwork of the cars. N combo models. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like your performance car to blend in – and I’m one of them – this certainly sounds the part.

As you might expect, Biermann und das Team also spent a lot of time on the i20 chassis: the N sits 40mm lower than a standard i20, has firmer springs, and its delicate shell is reinforced and reinforced in all kinds of places to feel every part of the miniature M – sorry, N car. Under the hood, there’s a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder – a more traditional setup than the Fiesta ST and its emissions-friendly three-pot, with a more traditional soundtrack to boot. Some – not me – would say that Hyundai’s little engine note is a little less characteristic than the Ford’s, but ignore them – the ST’s pantomime boom is no match for the old one ( more) academic hoarseness of the N in my eyes.

Make no mistake though, the N is quite a modern hot hatch: instant power, a ridiculously grippy front end – aided by a Hyundai-designed limited-slip differential – and a firm, but not punitive ride.


Around Wales’ rolling B roads – and particularly in this business – the set seems almost tailor-made for the job at hand. Steering is precise with just the right amount of weight – as long as you leave the various modes alone, anyway – and avoids the tendency of some hot LSD-equipped hatches to feel totally unnatural on tight corners.

The springs and shocks, while a bit firm at low speeds, negate the peaks and ridges of the best Brecon Beacons’ tarmac, with a kind of smoothness you’d expect from a much bigger and bigger car. expensive than the i20. Hyundai also nailed the feel of the pedal, and for someone wearing size 10 Timberlands on a cold and humid Welsh morning, it’s a pleasure to find them no longer stuck dangerously close to each other.

All of this, of course, is fine for a day at the British oil tankers’ playground. Equally important is how the angry Korean little sedan stands up to the task of actually being a Korean little sedan.

Reader, I have surprising news: it’s not bad. Despite the garish exterior and the badge that may or may not represent the Nürburgring, the i20 is an easy going car. Jump inside and you’ll find a – well, if I’m being honest, a little boring interior. The gearbox is light and easy to use – not artificially ‘meaty’ for fun. The seats are comfortable and sporty, but unlike those on a Fiesta ST, don’t feel like the bolsters are trying to crush you in the block.

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It also doesn’t instigate bad behavior on you like ST does. The Fiesta desperately needs you to crush your right foot into the carpet, but oddly enough, the i20 doesn’t – it’s not as hard on your attention in a way. This is probably the most surprising – and impressive – thing about the i20 N. Not only did Hyundai actually come out of nowhere with a fitting little hot hatch, but – loud exhaust and garish exterior aside – it’s one day perfectly usable today. And you know what ? It’s also the one I would have on a Fiesta. Now there is one phrase I never thought I would say about a Hyundai i20.

Jon reay

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