Hyundai i20 N: Hyundai’s new junior boss?

The goal was clear: the i20 N was to become a new benchmark for pocket rockets. That was the announcement made by Hyundai’s head of development, Albert Biermann, at the beginning of the project. Topple the actually unbeatable Ford Fiesta ST from the throne! megalomaniac? No, the ex-BMW-M man recently proved that he can also make the Koreans fast.
The first litter of 2017, the i30 N, was a complete success. Not only did the compact four-door GTI and Co regularly compete, the car also reached fans who used to be members of the numerous Golf GTI clubs. Affordable, full hut, a lot of sound, optics and umpteen setting options like the Playstation. Exactly what the fans love!
Hyundai i20 N

The cockpit inspires with modernity and sport. Too bad: Despite the full equipment, the navigation system costs 1480 euros extra.

The favorite among the driving fun crumbs was previously the Ford Fiesta ST. Bearish 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo, lock, 1.2 tons, no frills. In a nutshell: An absolute driving pleasure machine. Gone are the days when the minis still made driving fun with their alleged go-kart feeling and good engines. Before the question arises as to what’s going on with the Toyota GR Yaris: It fits into this class purely because of its size, but its all-wheel drive and power should be considered separately.

Three-cylinder was out of the question for Hyundai

Back to Hyundai’s heir to the throne. Of course, Biermann and his team took a close look at the competition. Have also X-rayed Polo GTI and Audi A1 40 TFSI. All with two-liter turbos from the VW shelf, otherwise no magic. A three-cylinder was out of the question for Hyundai. The acquisition of a 200 hp 1.6 liter turbo from group partner Kia was not to Biermann’s taste either.

A new generation of 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines with a special turbocharger, including intercooler and water cooling, was developed especially for the kid. In addition, the most modern gasoline direct injection, new, faster valve control for a constant torque curve. Means: From 1750 to 4500 tours there are 275 Newton meters. With overboost, even 304 Newton meters are released.

Hyundai i20 N

Regardless of the curve radius, the i20 N lifts its hind legs almost everywhere.

Performance? 204 HP at 5500 tours. Means? Six kilos per horsepower. A little more than expected, because with the 1233 kilos determined on our scales, the target unladen weight (1190 kg) was slightly missed. But no drama, the Fiesta ST is not lighter. What other special Biermann ingredients does the i20 N bring? A mechanical lock was of course at the top of his wish list. There are, but only in the 2000 euro performance package.

The manual six-speed gearbox is also used in other Hyundai vehicles. In the case of the i20 N, the part was specially modified with a reduced gearbox housing and the clutch was strengthened. Finally, launch control was also on the to-do list. Chassis? 18-inchers with a Pirelli P Zero (HN code) specially mixed for the i20 N are standard. Compared to the series i20, the front steering arms and steering knuckles have been reinforced, the wheel camber has been extended, the stabilizers, springs and dampers have been given significantly more hardness.

Five possible driving programs in the i20 N

The steering ratio has also been changed, the brakes have been upgraded with larger discs and are even internally ventilated at the rear. Biermann seems to be serious. You can also tell by the many N functions. For example “N Grin Control System”. Sounds complicated, but is only the generic term for the five possible driving programs (Eco, Normal, Sport, N, Individual).

Hyundai i20 N

The two-liter turbo in the i30 N was one of the few weak points. The one six in the i20 N? Better, but the chassis is a bit snappier than the engine.

As with the big brother i30 N, the i20 N also has the “N Custom Mode”, with which each individual component can be freely selected from the Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings. In addition, rev-matching double-declutching, three-way adjustable stability control, and the exhaust system is equipped with variable valve control. Wow, and all that for 26,990 euros? Sounds like a bargain, especially since its main competitor, the Fiesta ST, costs 2,300 euros more including optional lock and launch control.

We already saw in mid-2021 that the newcomer in the N squad works and inspires. When the Korean had to compete against the Fiesta ST and Mini JCW. And the win was overwhelming, not as expected because of the price, but because of the performance, the fastest lap time on the Contidrom and the best brakes. Can he also confirm victory in our super test? Here the i20 N has to prove itself on the significantly more difficult Sachsenring! But before that, show what he’s capable of in everyday life and on the measurement straight. Here we go!

Intentionally uncomfortable

Even getting started makes you want more. Skinny sports seats with 1a lateral support and comfortable upholstery. The shift stick is positioned within easy reach, the valance is easy to grip, the digital display is logically arranged and individually adjustable. The 1.6-liter turbo is on duty with a hoarse bark. On the country roads, the steering and chassis impress straight away with a sporty hardness, without stumbling or hopping. Of course, that’s not comfortable, and it shouldn’t be either.

Hyundai i20 N

The i20 N will be seen in 2022 in the World Rally Championship and in touring car racing. The N Blue costs 570 euros extra.

But even after four hours in the car, on good and bad roads, you don’t get out with a contrite face or a cry for an aspirin. The rough-sounding four-cylinder impresses in every situation, in every driving mode. He seems to drive on adrenaline instead of super. And the optional front axle lock always utilizes the up to 304 Nm perfectly in the steering direction, even on winding country roads. Consumption?

With eight liters you are already fast on the road, ten liters or more you burn at best in a constant state of intoxication. Speaking of which: the little one is also excellent on the Autobahn. Low weight, short wheelbase – does that mean fidgety handling at top speed? Nothing there, even at a speed of 220 and more, the four-door is surprisingly quiet on the road.

i20 N convinces in the sprint

Actually, the whole spectacle doesn’t even need numbers to demonstrate its genius. All the nicer, however, if you can still let them speak. In the sprint tests, the four-cylinder presses boldly and turns fluffy, responds without distortion despite its small displacement and, thanks to its short geared manual transmission, sometimes splutters through the elasticity disciplines better than the Fiesta ST. The i20 N is also impressive in the classic 0-100 sprint.

The one-six pulls along the revs and yodels cheerfully towards the six-thousanders. At most at the top, when it stretches into its speed reserve, you can tell that the turbo has to fight quite a bit to fill up. Anyone who sensitively moves along the traction limit in first gear and resolutely plucks through the precisely guided six-speed gearbox will achieve a 6.3 to 100. 6.2 seconds is the factory specification, but the time cannot be achieved even with launch control and changed starting speeds.

Hyundai i20 N

The standard 18-inch wheels go well with the N costume, the 320 brakes have a lot of bite and never seem tired.

The launch help works well and continuously, but lets the four-cylinder sag slightly immediately after the start, so there are only a maximum of 6.4 seconds in it. Be that as it may, the colleagues Fiesta, Polo, A1 or Cooper are not faster. The Hyundai is also at the top when it comes to the brakes. 33.1 meters from 100 km/h, shorter is not possible in this class. Pedal feel, ABS, fading – all in the green. Even the two-hundred measurement could not bring the pedal pressure or the friction value of the system to its knees, even though the rear end gets a little restless when fully decelerating. Let’s see how that makes itself felt in the all-important lap over the Sachsenring.

On the warm-up lap, the i20 N appears extremely taut, defined and extremely stiff when it comes to wheel control. It’s all very similar to the Fiesta ST. Back in the pits again, adjust the Pirelli’s air pressure – and then the clock ticks. As soon as you turn in after the start-finish straight, this Hyundai sets off fireworks. For the downward-hanging Coca-Cola right, the i20 N does not need a request and certainly no nudge, just someone who resolutely throws it against the centrifugal force.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the slower Omega, the fast left under the VW bridge, the Sachsen or Queckenberg curve – the little one is almost always slouching, tearing over the curbs with his little leg lifted, and understeer doesn’t occur, even with a large torque lobe. Instead, the locked front axle only eats further into the radius. Also surprising how well the Pirellis stick, much better than the same tire on the i30 N.

The sports pedals are great for tap dancing

How does it compare to the Fiesta ST in general? Surprisingly, the man from Cologne is three tenths faster in the first sector. Its three-cylinder just kicks a little more than the Koreans at lower speeds. However, the Hyundai regained the lost time in the Omega and in the third sector and took the lead. You can tell the Hyundai works with a little more body tension than the Ford.

The mechanical grip is a bit higher, the i20 rear axle is a bit more steerable. You can tap dance wonderfully on the sports pedals, work properly with the steering, and the exhaust sound sounds harsh even under the helmet. In the fast fourth sector, almost the same time to the thousandths, in the Sachsen curve the i20 N picks up a little more momentum than the Fiesta and nibbles another three tenths off the Ford time in the last sector.

It comes as it has to come, subjectively and objectively, the Hyundai i20 N Performance at the Sachsenring is the fastest series front scratcher in the small car class. Let’s leave out the more powerful Mini JCW GP, which is fully geared towards the racetrack. To the point, without exaggerating: The i20 N is a high concentration of driving pleasure dynamics, a curve crumb that is currently looking for its equal in terms of value for money.


Clearly, the i20 N has defeated the Fiesta! Perky tail swings, raised legs and a lot of front axle grip, plus robust exhaust music, as the fans love, that’s how you become the king of the sporty little ones!

Specifications and price: Hyundai i20 N

Engine type: R4
Charge: turbo
Installation position: front across
Valves / camshafts: 4 per cylinder / 2nd
Displacement: 1598cc
kW (hp) b. rpm: 275(204)/1750-4500
liter output: 128 hp/l
b. rpm: 275 (304)*/1750-4500
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Type of drive: front wheel
Brakes front: 320 mm internally ventilated
Rear brakes: 262 mm internally ventilated
Brake disc material: stole
Wheel size front – rear: 7.5×18″
Tire size front – rear: 215/40R18
Tire type: Pirelli P Zero (HN)
Dimensions L / W / H: 4075/1775-2045/1440mm
Wheelbase: 2580mm
Tank/trunk volume: 40/352-1165L
Standard consumption • CO2: 7.0L S/100km • 158g/km***
Emissions standard: Euro 6d ISC FCM
Basic price: 24,990 euros
Test car price: 26,990 euros

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