You’ll probably already know that Hyundai is working on an ‘i20 N’. Various i20 N spy shots we’ve seen recently as good as confirm this, but now we’ve had word from the horse’s mouth, with the South Korean company giving the hot hatch a starring role in this teaser video.
In it, we see WRC driver Thierry Neuville tear around in what’s effectively the road-going version of his rally car. The car is still caked in camouflage at this stage - we’ll likely have to wait a little longer for the full reveal.
We do, however, get a good listen to the exhaust note. As you’d expect, it’s an inline-four turbo engine, and from the sounds of it, we reckon Hyundai has detuned the i30 N‘s ‘Theta’ 2.0-litre, rather than hopped up version the 175bhp 1.6-litre ‘Gamma’ engine available in the standard i30.
We’d anticipate a power output hovering around 200bhp, and potentially the option of the i30 N’s electronically-controlled locking differential, giving the i20 N all the tools it needs to go up against Ford’s stonking Fiesta ST. The considerably more powerful, all-wheel drive Toyota GR Yaris will remain out of reach, but regardless, we’d get a kick out of driving the homologation special back-to-back with Hyundai’s latest performance car.
Why? Because hopes for the i20 N are high - the i30 N was a surprise world-beater, and Hyundai’s N division is headed by former BMW M Division boss Albert Biermann. He knows a thing or two about making ordinary cars go quickly.
Unfortunately, though, the i20 N won’t have many other playmates - the B-segment hot hatch realm isn’t anywhere near as well populated as the larger C-segment, and that’s unlikely to change. Emissions rules are making it harder for manufacturers to make hot hatches, as evidenced by the cancellation of the C-seg Ford Focus RS. In the B-segment meanwhile, Peugeot has decided to replace the old hot 208 with an electric car that may not even use the GTI badge.
Hyundai is treading a different, horsepower-heavy path - along with the incoming i20 N and the existing i30 N, it’s also cooking up a 247bhp Kona N, allowing it to take on the Fiesta ST and the Puma ST at the same time. We should see both of Hyundai’s new performance cars revealed in 2020 before in early 2021, pending any delays due to you know what.