Hyundai i20 N

Hyundai i20N, 2022, front, action
Hyundai i20N, 2022, nose
Hyundai i20N, 2022, front
Hyundai i20N, 2022, side
Hyundai i20N, 2022, rear
Hyundai i20N, 2022, rear, static
Hyundai i20N, 2022, side, action
Hyundai i20N, 2022, interior

HOT hatches have been around a long time and many are not that cheap anymore.

But from the Far East there's not been many entrants apart from Honda's Civic Type R.

However, that all changed in 2017 when Hyundai announced its first ever high-performance car, the 2.0-litre i30 N which was developed from the ground up to deliver maximum driving pleasure on the road, as well as on the track.

Inspired by Hyundai Motorsport's experience and success in the World Rally Championship, it was a proper ‘hot hatch' too featuring front-wheel drive, a short-throw six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching. It even had a limited slip differential (LSD).

Albert Biermann, executive vice-president of Hyundai's high-performance vehicle division and former vice-president engineering of BMW's M division, said at the time the i30 N had been developed for ‘no other purpose than to deliver maximum driving fun to our customers in an accessible high-performance package'.

More recently, Hyundai sprinkled some of that magic on the smaller i20 N, and it's a belter.

It features a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 201bhp and 275Nm of torque - enough for a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 142mph. Again, the transmission is a six-speed manual, equipped with a rev-matching function, and there's also a mechanical limited-slip differential.

It officially returns 40.4mpg but I got 33.8mpg, possibly because I might have been ‘playing' with it. It's that sort of car.

The front is dominated by the front bumper with a larger air intake for the turbo engine. The wide radiator grille features a unique pattern inspired by a chequered flag, underlining the i20 N's racetrack capability.

A prominent rear spoiler, side skirts and 18-inch alloys help it look the part too. Oh, and it sits 40mm lower than a regular i20.

Inside, there's supportive sports seats and plenty of useful tech, including a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, a clear and simple touchscreen infotainment system, wireless phone charging, a reversing camera with parking sensors, and climate control.

The digital cluster and AVN screen include features such as a shift-timing indicator, which shows the driver the best time to switch gears.

There's even 352 litres of boot space and useable rear seats for adults - as long as you're not planning a long trip.

And all for just over £25,000.

However, does the fie-door live up to that ‘hot hatch' tag. Yes, yes it does.

The i20 N keeps maximum torque between 1,750 and 4,500rpm, and achieves maximum power between 5,500 and 6,000rpm, which results in powerful acceleration in the mid- and high-speed range. Overtaking is a cinch.

On the twistys, you'll find the shift light and precise, daring you to flick up and down through the gears with a throaty rasp from the engine. It's addictive. There's a DSG auto gearbox available which is - controversially - thought to be even better. We'll have to see.

There's also a sublime level of grip thanks to the bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyres, an incredibly stiff chassis, the LSD and superbly adjusted suspension.

The i20 N feels every bit as fun as a 1,190kg car - the same weight as the i20 Coupe WRC - with 201bhp should. It is hugely enjoyable, even if it doesn't like potholes much.

The great thing is - because of the plentiful driving modes, which include eco, normal and sport - is just as enjoyable to drive around town or cruising on the motorway, though some might find it a little loud.

That said, enthusiastic drivers will prefer the grin-inducing N mode because that's where all the fun is.

FAST FACTS

Hyundai i20 N

Price:£25,250

Mechanical:201bhp, 1,598cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission

Max Speed:143mph

0-62mph:6.2seconds

Combined MPG: 40.4

Insurance Group:27

C02 emissions:158g/km

Bik rating:36%

Warranty:5yrs/unlimited miles

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