This is more like it. Our first tangible evidence of what a production-spec i20 N will look like, albeit under a thick layer of cladding. But no matter, the disguised prototype here is the first we've seen with what looks like a full suite of N addenda, including 10-spoke alloys and a twin exhaust, as well as what's almost certainly a roof spoiler stretching the covers over its back. That's the sort of look you might deem appropriate appropriate for a 200hp hot hatch, which is handy, because that's exactly what we're expecting in this model.
In truth, Hyundai's not yet revealed what will power its upcoming Fiesta ST rival, but the firm's head of development, Tyrone Johnson, did tell PH last year to expect something quite different to the car's bigger brother, the i30 N. Our money was (and still is) on the model using Hyundai's 1.6-litre turbo engine with a power output to match its closest competition. The assumption is that it will use a six-speed manual and, maybe, an optional front diff - that's what the ST has, after all, and Hyundai has made no secret of wanting to steal away its class crown.
The i20 N won't be able to match its larger sibling for outright pace, that's a given, but with an 80mm-shorter wheelbase and an accompanying lighter kerbweight, it's got plenty of potential to become the feistiest car in the line-up. The i30 N has always had to face more rounded rivals, but the i20 N rivals in the segment below are a bit less mature - so expect the same from Hyundai. Expect the N-specific customisable powertrain and chassis setting menus to remain a feature, although not necessarily as extensively as in the i30 due to less expensive hardware being used. A passive suspension set up seems likely, for example. And expect its exhaust to make plenty of noise in its least social settings as, even with only the i30 N in its ranks, that's already become a hallmark of Hyundai performance cars.
We've been spying i20 Ns on and around the Nürburgring for almost a year, which suggests the car seen this week is one right at the end of the development phase. Excitingly for those with cash ready and waiting for something small and fun, that means its official launch must be fast approaching. With the Mk8 GTI, a refreshed Civic Type R and new Yaris GR on the way, 2020 is already looking like a vintage year for the hot hatch.
Images: S.Baldauf|S.B Medien