Today we present to you the wicked Hyundai i20N for a review. After trying out the i30 N Performance (link to the article) both on the track and on the road, we finally get our hands on the little pest from the Korean automaker.
The Hyundai i20 N belongs to the B-segment, so it has modest dimensions, but the modifications made by the N division immediately make it clear that we’re not dealing with an ordinary city car. Visually, compared to its “civilian” counterpart, you immediately notice the body kit, the lowered suspension, and the rear spoiler, as well as the various red accents scattered across the bodywork. At first glance, it might appear a bit too flashy, but all these modifications are not just there for aesthetic reasons; everything is meticulously designed to make this car as fun as possible.
Completing the picture are the exclusive 18-inch forged wheels with a matte black finish, which are also specially designed to be as lightweight as possible, minimizing the unsprung mass. Thanks to all these enhancements, despite a powerful engine up front, the weight is kept at only 1250kg. The dimensions and trunk capacity remain unchanged compared to the i20, with its 4.07 meters in length and 1.77 meters in width, making it a very agile car even in the city. Moreover, with around 350 liters of trunk space, it’s also suitable for weekend getaways.
Overall, the interior is very similar to the city car from which it derives. We find many hard plastics assembled excellently. The changes include the marvelous sports seats and the steering wheel, which adds three new buttons dedicated to sport functions. Fortunately, we still find the mechanical handbrake, a bit anachronistic, but it’s pleasant to have such a control on a car like this.
The infotainment system is the usual, and very good, one found in many Hyundai models we’ve already tested. Thanks to the tech package equipped in the test car, we have a 10.25-inch screen and the Bose audio system. There is also a specific screen for the N version that informs the driver about driving parameters, contributing to a sporty touch to the driving experience. The instrumentation is fully digital and customizable based on the driving mode. The experience is always smooth, visually pleasing, and responsive. Another noteworthy aspect is the physical controls for the air conditioning, which are becoming increasingly rare.
Now it’s time to start up this little beast and see what it’s made of. I press the ignition button, and the 1.6-liter turbo engine with 204 horsepower under the hood comes to life. Even at idle, pleasing notes emerge from the exhaust: deep, growling, and fierce. Right hand on the 6-speed manual gearbox, we engage first gear. It’s immediately noticeable that Hyundai has also intervened in this aspect, installing a precise, tight, quick, and satisfyingly short gearshift lever. It almost makes you want to shift gears even when not necessary, that’s how satisfying the mechanics underneath it is.
I immediately set it to the N mode, and the exhaust sound becomes immediately more aggressive. The Hyundai i20N doesn’t have an electronically controlled suspension, so the driving modes only affect the sound, partially the controls, and the engine response. Corner after corner, I realize how masterfully this suspension is designed, and the limited-slip differential works exceptionally well.
The engine delivers strong performance, and the exhaust sound provides thrilling emotions. Despite this, the Hyundai i20N is very fuel-efficient. On the highway at 130 km/h, the fuel consumption is around 15 km per liter. In the city, of course, the consumption goes up, but with careful driving, it never drops below 13 km per liter.
Hyundai has managed to create an unparalleled mix of fun and everyday usability in just over four meters with the i20 N. Perhaps the best in its category. A true oasis in the desert, a needle in a haystack, and many other metaphors just to say that such well-rounded cars are no longer found nowadays.