Hyundai has big plans for its N Performance brand – starting with a smaller car.
The South Korean brand teased footage of its new i20 N this week, with WRC ace Thierry Neuville testing the new pint-sized hot hatch on the snow in Sweden. The i20 N is expected to be revealed later this year before being added to Hyundai's Australian showrooms by early 2021.
The footage and images of Neuville sampling the i20 N features the car still in heavy camouflage but there is increasing clarity about what we can expect it to offer up when we do see it. The 202kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo from the i30 N is considered unlikely as it would make the two models too similar. So it's expected to be powered by the brand's 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo from the i30 N-Line, which makes 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque that will be more-than-enough to make the i20 N a potent hot hatch.
What's less clear is what transmission it will use, with a six-speed manual available, appealing for purists and likely to help keep the cost competitive. However, the 1.6-litre turbo is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in the i30 N-Line and such a gearbox would give the i20 N a broader appeal.
Other performance upgrades are expected to include standard 18-inch alloy wheels, better brakes and revised suspension settings. It will also get a fresh look, with more aggressive front and rear treatments hidden by the camouflage.
Hyundai's WRC star was impressed with Neuville saying: “Very interesting car. Very precise. Very easy handling. The engine is revving nicely and the noise is very interesting as well. I'm looking forward to get [sic] this one to drive in WRC!”
But just like the WRC, where the new i20 will do battle with the Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta, the fight between road-going baby hot hatches is getting intense. Ford has just released the all-new Fiesta ST, Toyota is preparing a turbocharged, all-wheel drive GR Yaris for launch and the Volkswagen Polo GTI remains a staple.
Pricing for the i20 N won't be confirmed until closer to its launch but it's expected to follow the lead of the Ford and Volkswagen and push into the low $30k range.