by Sandy Myhre
There’s a dedicated performance department at Hyundai that develops enthusiastic (read, rally) versions of the company’s regular vehicles. Any Hyundai with the N nomenclature comes with all the rally salad, the bells, the whistles, the add-ons.
The i20N has been developed on the back of Hyundai’s World Rally Championship success and make no mistake, this is no mere dressing up. The N team is headed by ex-BMW man Albert Biermann and he, and they, know how to go about achieving rally finesse.
The i20N is in the supermini class and it’s going to give the Ford Focus ST and the Mini Cooper S a run for the money, both of which are slightly dearer. Let’s start with the exterior.
The front grille has LED headlights that feature the N-design, which means they’re surrounded by black bezels, which are grooved rings holding the cover in position, who knew? Other design elements include side sills with an engraved N logo and rally-type performance body styling.
Wheels are 18” forged alloy and the rear has a spoiler that’s “WRC derived”.
Inside the dashboard cluster comes in two parts, one the essential driver information and the other a multi-media touchscreen. The driver information screen gives you everything you want to know and some things that aren’t strictly necessary. For instance, it tells you when the front wipers are on, as if you didn’t know. But other bits of information are handy, like “S-bed ahead”.
Interior space is more than adequate. It’s a supermini after all. Boot space is good given the size of the car overall. The seats are sculptured rally-style so they hold your body securely.
The heart of this supermini is a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine coupled to a six-speed gearbox. The official blurb says it’s “class-leading power-to-weight ratio” so we take their word for it. It has superb grip and corners wonderfully as you’d expect with breeding that’s rally-inspired. Officially the cornering is described as “rascal” which is a cute turn of phrase.
You can activate a rev-matching button on the steering wheel which gives you smoother or sportier downshifts, depending on what drive mode you’re in. It’s dial-a-sound because the engine note changes when you change the button.
The i20N has all the safety bells and whistles like forward collision and blind spot warning, lane assist, rear cross traffic warning and there’s a “driver attention” warning system which prevents potential accidents.
This is the car for the would-be Hayden Paddon in us. He is contesting the WRC Rally New Zealand from 29 September this year so when you buy an i20N you can pretend rather nicely and at $53,990 it certainly represents value for money.