For a first effort at a hot hatch, the Hyundai i30N was deeply impressive. Fast, fun and entertaining - as well as very good value - it offered everything you would hope for in a modern, quick hatchback. It's also ensured some considerable excitement around the next Nanyang/Nurburgring Hyundai, which we've known for a while to be an i20.
And here it is, spied near and on the Nurburgring with very little disguise. It's most certainly the N also, with a few tell-tale giveaways: the N gear knob, a strut brace in the boot, Pirelli P Zero tyres (as found on the i30 N Performance) and N-embossed wheels. The exhausts and body still look a little meek, though that could well change before production. Still, plenty to be encouraged by.
Previous speculation has suggested that the i20N will use Hyundai's 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, boosted from 177hp as it is in the Tucson to around 200hp, making it broadly competitive with cars like the Polo GTI, Fiesta ST and Renault Sport Clio. In fact, given the dearth of worthy Fiesta competitors at the moment - no quick Ibiza or Fabia, no replacement 208 GTI in sight and the Corsa having gone from VXR to GSI - the opportunity for Hyundai to be successful is arguably greater than ever.
The i20N was initially rumoured as a 2020 model; given we're now nearly half way through 2019 that predication should stand true. Furthermore, with the European affection for a hot hatch showing no signs of abating, a motor show debut on the continent might make sense. And Frankfurt is early September - expect more news soon...
[Images: S. Baldauf/S.B. Medien]
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