HYUNDAI has finally confirmed the existence and ongoing development of its long-teased i20 N compact performance car, a car Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) has already put its hand up for.
Officially confirmed by a pair of winter testing videos uploaded to the Hyundai N Worldwide YouTube channel yesterday, specific details of the i20 N are few and far between given the prototype shown in the videos is masked by front and rear camouflage.
Only the flanks of the car are exposed in the footage and even then, there is camouflage from behind the rear doors.
The only real hints we get as to the i20 N’s aggro disposition are the aggressive N Performance alloy wheels and dual exhaust tips peeking out from behind the rear camouflage. Everything else on display – the side doors – looks to be fairly standard i20.
That said, a few other hints can be drawn from an earlier teaser video GoAuto reported on in March which points to the i20 N also featuring more aggressive side skirts, in this case finished in red.
Given the meaty, aggro styling of its bigger i30 N sibling it would be more than safe to assume the i20 N will brandish more aggressive styling than the recently updated standard car.
No details at all has been revealed as to the new baby N’s powertrain although the general consensus is that it will score the 150kW/265Nm force-fed 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine out of the i30 N-Line.
If this proves to be the case, then the i20 N will wade directly into the compact hot hatch market and stand toe-to-toe with the 147kW/290Nm Ford Fiesta ST, 147kW/320Nm Volkswagen Polo GTI and 147kW/260Nm Renault Clio RS.
The other – admittedly less likely – possibility is that Hyundai will squeeze the full fat 2.0-litre turbo four from the potent i30 N (202kW/353Nm – 378Nm on overboost) under the bonnet and aim the new car further upmarket at the looming and all-conquering Toyota GR Yaris (200kW/370Nm).
This however could cause a few problems for Hyundai, as the baby N would be stepping on the toes of its bigger sibling in both price and performance.
Transmission duties could go either way between manual or automatic, with the i30 N only available here with a six-speed manual – for the time being – while the warm-hatch i30 N-Line can only be had with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic.
For reference, the Fiesta ST is shipped exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission while the Polo GTI and Clio RS are dual-clutch-only affairs.
In terms of an Australian introduction, HMCA corporate communications and partnerships general manager Bill Thomas could not confirm if the i20 N would make it Down Under but said there was a strong case for it.
“We are keen on all N products, we’ve made that clear in the past,” he said.
“This one is accessible to us because, unlike Veloster N for example, it will be built in right-hand drive.
“That makes it more likely for introduction to the Australian market, but we can’t confirm it at this stage.”
When Hyundai Austria first sent the rumour into overdrive back in March with a cheeky three-second glimpse of a more aggressive i20, HMCA senior manager for PR, sponsorship and events Guido Schenken said an i20 N would make “logical sense” given Hyundai’s WRC campaign and HMCA’s quest to build “an N performance family”.
Price-wise, i20 N could expect to arrive carrying a pricetag around the $30,000 mark given its three most logical rivals retail for $31,990 (Fiesta ST), $32,490 (Polo GTI) and $30,990 (Clio RS Sport) before on-road costs, which would align nicely with the way the i30 N undercuts its rivals by a few thousand dollars.
“More details of the i20 N will be revealed soon,” Hyundai said in a statement.