The i20 N is a motorsport inspired hot hatch designed to bring Hyundai’s battles in the World Rally Championship with Toyota and Ford out of the forests and into showrooms. Fast, feisty and packed with the kind of geeky features keen drivers will love, the i20 N follows the example of its impressive i30 N big brother, condensing that spirit into a more compact package. More affordable than the similarly rally-inspired GR Yaris and evenly matched against the benchmark Fiesta ST it’s clear Hyundai is now a force to be reckoned with in the hot hatch world. Read our Expert Review for the Hyundai i20 here for more on the standard car on which the N version is based.
“Like any great hot hatch, the driving experience makes it seem a relative steal in performance terms”
Measured against regular versions of the i20 the N model looks expensive to buy and run in terms of fuel consumption, insurance and tax. But, like any great hot hatch, the driving experience makes it seem a relative steal in performance terms. The Fiesta ST it competes with has a slightly cheaper starting price but, by the time you option the Ford up to an equivalent specification, it’s a pretty even match. The generous standard equipment also makes it look good value against Cooper S and John Cooper Works versions of the Mini Hatch while the similarly rally-inspired Toyota GR Yaris is considerably more expensive but also a lot more exotic, given the extra power and sophisticated four-wheel drive system.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Hyundai i20 N Hatchback
“The fact the warranty covers you for a typical 48-month finance term means you can sign on the line without too much to worry about”
Hyundai has a solid reputation for reliability, and backs this up with a five-year warranty along with free annual health checks and roadside assistance for the same period. As such in the unlikely event anything should go wrong you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, the fact this covers you for a typical 48-month finance term meaning you can sign on the line in confidence.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Hyundai i20 N Hatchback
“Hot hatch buyers will be more interested in features like the mechanical locking differential to help get the power down on slippery roads”
Like the regular i20 the N version gets a full package of driver assistance systems to keep you out of trouble. These include forward collision warning and emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection at urban speeds, lane-keeping, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alerts. Hot hatch buyers will be more interested in features like the mechanical locking differential to help get the power down on slippery roads (the Fiesta ST features similar technology), bigger brakes and three-stage stability control with a mid-way ‘Sport’ mode to appreciate the handling with a more relaxed electronic safety net. Intriguingly Hyundai also boasts of specific calibration for left-foot braking, a rally driver skill very few (if any) people will use in daily driving. But indicative of the attention to detail of the team behind it.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Hyundai i20 N Hatchback
“The i20 N is actually a lot more fun on a twisty road at real world speeds than more powerful and prestigious performance cars”
If you want a comfortable i20 stick with the standard version, not the N. With fatter tyres, bigger wheels and stiffer suspension you feel the bumps more than ever but, of course, that’s what hot-hatch fans want in their cars and – if you like your driving – the trade-off in cornering precision is well worth it. This sense of agility combined with the compact size means the i20 N is actually a lot more fun on a twisty road at real world speeds than more powerful and prestigious performance cars. Even supercars.
And when it comes down to it the i20 N is just as practical as any other model in the range. True purists may prefer their hot hatches as three-doors, the GR Yaris only available in this format while the Mini and Fiesta ST offer the option. Push come to shove, though, the five-door layout means the i20 N is just as practical for shopping, commuting and the school run as any supermini Monday to Friday but equally capable of B-road blasts or track days come the weekend. The extra N embellishments and sports seats lift the ambience over regular i20s, though it’s clear the money has still been invested in the engineering more than the quality of the cabin materials.
Expert rating: 2/5
Features of the Hyundai i20 N Hatchback
“Everything comes as standard on the i20 N, which is a pleasingly straightforward approach by Hyundai”
Any paint colour other than white will cost you extra, ditto the trademark contrast black roof and upgraded Bose stereo system. But, other than that, everything comes as standard on the i20 N, which is a pleasingly straightforward approach by Hyundai. This includes a digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch central touch-screen packed with connected features and through which you can configure the various custom driving modes. These can then be selected via the prominent steering wheel buttons and what Hyundai slightly cheesily describes as the N Grin Control System, meaning you can alternate between a more chilled out character through town but have it all ready to go and turned up to 11 when the roads get more interesting.
Expert rating: 5/5
Power for a Hyundai i20 N Hatchback
“Enthusiasts will also appreciate the manual gearbox and its nifty rev-matching function for smooth shifts”
With 204 horsepower the turbocharged engine at the heart of the i20 N is on the money compared with the Fiesta ST and more powerful than a Mini Cooper S, the JCW version offering more but for a considerably greater cost. Comparisons with the GR Yaris are inevitable given both wear their rally influence on their sleeves but the Toyota is arguably in a different performance league.
With faster steering than a regular i20 and a host of other modifications geared toward making sure you can enjoy the extra performance to the full the N is a blast to drive. Enthusiasts will also appreciate the manual gearbox and its nifty rev-matching function for smooth shifts. You can easily turn it off if you prefer to do your own throttle blips. If the manual only transmission is a turn-off the Mini offers an automatic option while the pending Polo GTI will have comparable power and will only be available with VW’s ‘DSG’ paddle shifter gearbox.