In motoring terms, the letter ‘N’ mostly stands for ‘neutral’ (aka going nowhere). But in the
case of the Hyundai i20 N, nothing could be farther from the truth. The maker has been
spruiking the compact as bringing the DNA of its World Rally champion to the street as a
daily driver.

And there is little evidence to seriously doubt this. Powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged
direct injection petrol engine, mated with six-speed manual transmission, maximum power
of 150 kW is enough to fire the hot hatch from zero to 100km / h in 6.7 seconds.

Based on the third-generation Turkish-built i20 hatch in Europe, the N version is no
stripped out model on steroids. There’s much to admire in comfort and convenience for
this class of car.

Pitted against the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and Suzuki Swift Sport, it serves
up an encyclopedic list of performance goodies. And the price of $34,990, plus on-road
costs, which recently went up by $2000, is nothing to be sniffed at.

It can be had in five different colours: Polar White and Performance Blue, at no cost; or
Metallic Sleek Silver, Mica Phantom Black and Mica Dragon Red, all $495. A black roof
adds $1000.

The rally inspired look is designed to match high performance by minimising drag and
boosting power. Up front, air duct and splitter look the part, while out back a rather ragged
design is topped off by a pared back rally-inspired roof mounted twin-layer spoiler that
here looks more of an afterthought. Hopefully, it makes up in aerodynamic efficiency.

A black radiator grille, based on a chequered flag, is dominated by the Hyundai badge and
(you’ve guessed it) the letter N. LED headlamps on both sides incorporate tick-shaped
daytime running lights.

Fog lamps flank a second grille strip low down. Whiz-bang wheel design, featuring red
brake callipers peeking out from behind five Y-spoke 18-inchers, put the finishing touches
to the hot hatch.

Inside it’s Ns all round, with letter-specific touches such as N sport leather-trim seats with
integrated headrests, leather wrapped N steering wheel and gear knob, plus sporty N alloy
pedals. The iconic red steering wheel-mounted Rev Button chips in with a tempting
finishing touch.

Wheels pushed out to all four corners of the car offer up a spacious cabin, capable of
carrying five grown-ups in relative comfort. Front bucket seats offer ample support in
recommended enthusiastic driving, while shoulder and leg room in the back can take all
but the bulkiest footy front row at a push.

Storage is king, with spades in versatility. For example, there’s a multi-level boot with a
movable floor, incorporating a fitted cargo net, in the upper position. Drop the 60/40 rear
backrests and there’s a flat load area.

Taking the floor out unveils a deep cubby in spite of there being a space-saver spare

Where do I start? The i20 N encompasses a plethora of computer-age automotive menus
presented in twin 10.25-inch dashboard digital displays, offering instrument and
entertainment info.

In fact, there’s almost too much to take in. Included are worldwide track maps with lap
times; personalised throttle response settings, exhaust note and stability control all
accessed at the touch of two steering wheel-mounted switches.

Also on hand is a red button that calls up rev matching tech for optimised downshifts. The
instrument cluster has a range of display functions. On a more relaxing note, the car is
fitted with a Bose eight-speaker premium sound system.

A 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder pumps out 150 kW and 275 Nm, matched with a six-
speed manual gearbox and a mechanical limited-slip differential that drive the front

Hyundai’s Smart Sense Advanced Drivers’ Assistance System tops up an already
comprehensive safety package with such things as Forward Collision Assist City / inter-
urban / pedestrian, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, which warns when the speed limit has
been exceeded; Lane Following Assist, which keeps the car centred between lane
markings; and Blind Spot Collision Warning, an alert when a vehicle approaches the
driver’s blind spot.

Passive safety is in the hands of six airbags.

Fuel (regular unleaded) consumption of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres is claimed by the
maker on the combined urban / highway cycle. On test the lively hatch recorded 10 litres
per 100 kilometres and 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres respectively.

An N Power Sense Axle up front and Dual Coupled Torsion Beam Axle at the rear provide
stiff ride and handling, which did not miss a bump on the ubiquitous uneven Aussie road
surfaces. Trackwork is more to the hot hatch’s liking.

Steering is precise and direct thanks to reduced steering gear ratio over the standard
model, while the limited-slip diff, plus 215/40R18 Pirelli P-Zero tyres, developed
specifically for the i20 N, has the car efficiently carving through corners.

High performance brakes with bigger front discs resist fading, produce consistent pedal
feel and maximise heat endurance.

Hyundai has put the brake on sending the i20 N Down Under, with the order book full and
wait times approaching two years, so the above chance for fun and games would appear
academic. Know what I mean? Say no more.

Looks: 7/10
Performance: 8/10
Safety: 7/10
Thirst: 7/10
Practicality: 6/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 7/10

Hyundai i20 N Hatch $32,490
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai i20 N 1.6L T-GDi Turbo 4-cylinder petrol, 6sp manual, FWD)

Capacity: 1.598 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline
Maximum Power: 150 kW @ 5500-6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 275 Nm @ 1750-4500 rpm (overboost 304 Nm, 2000-4000 rpm)
Fuel Type: Regular unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.9 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed manual, mechanical limited-slip differential, front-wheel drive

Length: 4075 mm
Wheelbase: 2580 mm
Width: 1750 mm
Height: 1440 mm
Turning Circle: N/A
Kerb Mass: 1190 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 40 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres (including non-competition track driving, with fitment of
performance-oriented tyres.

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *