AS WIDELY anticipated, Hyundai will take on the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI, Renault Clio RS and Toyota GR Yaris in Australia for the first time ever early next year with the arrival of the all-new i20 N hot hatch.
To be built in Turkey and based on Hyundai’s third-generation supermini released overseas earlier this year, the still-to-be-revealed series-production version of the i20 N will be the first light hatch from the South Korean car-maker to undergo the N sub-brand performance overhaul.
However, while it also marks the return of the one-time-popular i20 nameplate in Australia, non-N variants will not be part of the program for this market, at least in the foreseeable future.
It will also only be available with a five-door hatch body style.
“We are excited to confirm for the first time that the all-new i20 N will be available in Australia,” Hyundai Motor Company Australia product planning manager Jonathan Lam said at a media event in Sydney this week.
The i20 N will be positioned below the larger i30 N range that starts from $41,400 plus on-road costs, and although pricing is still to be finalised, expect the hottest Hyundai supermini to basically shadow the Fiesta ST’s $32,290 (plus on-roads) marker.
Powered by the Hyundai-Kia group’s familiar 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, but tuned to produce around 160kW of power, the front-wheel-drive 120 N will be paired exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission for the time being, reflecting the lingering appeal of the more conventional gearbox.
Key rivals including the Clio RS and Polo GTI are only available with a dual-clutch transmission.
Described by Hyundai as “racetrack capable and street legal”, the i20 N will reportedly adopt a raft of steering, suspension, braking and chassis-control upgrades compared to the regular model variants, as seen with the i30 N.
As GoAuto has reported, prototype images have been released by the company that show the i20 N testing on frozen lakes in Sweden, as well as at Germany’s Nurburgring racing circuit, underlining the model’s European focus.
More details will be revealed with the i20 N’s international unveiling in the second half of this year.
Whether the rumoured i20 N-Line grade with a smaller (and likely three-cylinder turbo) powertrain also follows suit remains undisclosed for now.