New Hyundai i20 N hot hatch spied testing

The hot Hyundai i20 N will take the fight to the Ford Fiesta ST, and it's been snapped during its development programme

Following a quiet two years, Hyundai’s N Performance division appears to be readying its second model – the i20 N – which will be the Korean firm’s rival for the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI. These spy shots are our first look at the new hot supermini, which is likely to take inspiration from Hyundai’s i20 World Rally Championship challenger.

The body of this mule is almost identical to the standard i20. Noticeable differences include a larger set of alloy wheels, a lowered ride height and a crudely-modified rear bumper, which allows space for a larger twin-exit exhaust.

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Some shots show clear wheelarch extensions, hinting at a wider track. However, despite this mule wearing current-generation i20 bodywork, the hot N supermini may not arrive until the launch of the next-generation car. The i20 was facelifted last year, and as such, is now well beyond halfway through its life.

Albert Biermann, Hyundai’s N division chief, is enthusiastic about the idea of fast superminis. Back in 2017, when quizzed about whether the N line-up could expand to include cars smaller than the i30, he said: “Of course. Why would we limit ourselves to C-segment? There are tons of hot superminis out there – Polo GTI, Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 and even Toyota now is doing one [Yaris GRMN]. There’s a good market out there.”

Hyundai’s engine choice for the i20 N remains a mystery. Given this mule uses the same body as the current i20, we expect its N-branded sibling will be based on a modified version of the current car’s platform. This platform is shared with the Hyundai Kona, meaning the engines from the brand’s SUV should bolt into its supermini with minimal effort.

Biermann, has previously confirmed that the planned Kona N will use the i30 N’s 247bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, meaning there’s potential for it to be bolted into the i20 N in a lower state of tune. Given the i20’s smaller dimensions and lower price point, though, a more likely option would be a tuned version of the car’s existing turbocharged 1.6-litre engine. 

The i20 N will likely produce around 200bhp, giving it comparable performance to the Fiesta ST (which produces 197bhp), while not treading too heavily on the toes of the more expensive i30 N (which has 247bhp). All i20 N’s will be front-wheel-drive and some versions are likely to feature an electronic limited-slip differential.

Will the Hyundai i20 N be a serious hot hatch contender? Let us know in the comments section…

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