The sparkling and affordable little GTIs from ancient history? Not so quickly, the Korean manufacturer is writing a new chapter.
Sometimes it’s a real pleasure to be wrong. Hyundai, a manufacturer which nevertheless brilliantly drives the WRC championship in particular, is not the first brand that comes to mind when it comes to affording a sports car. Gold, getting behind the wheel of the i20 N is a gluttonous measure of this error.
Admittedly, one should not imagine that it is question here of the car of Thierry Neuville, just approved for the road. Do not look here for a complex all-wheel drive or overpowered engine. To summarize, the i20 N remains a simple traction, light, weighing less than 1,200 kg, fitted with a 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder engine with 204 hp. With on board, a steering wheel, three pedals and a kind of lever in the middle of the cabin which is handled from left to right and front to back. And it is precisely this relative simplicity that makes you smile. Even the parking brake is mechanical!
The Korean favors the essential: driving. The steering wheel position announces the color thanks to an enveloping seat that comes close enough to the floor. The 6-speed gearbox control is not the best on the market, but its guidance is sufficiently precise and its locks firm enough to allow the chaining of reports on the fly.
Other elements say a lot about the recreational vocation of this i20. The sound atmosphere, warm, and especially the damping, closes in the absence of real solution to soften it. Because although equipped with shock absorbers and specific anti-roll bars, the Hyundai retains passive suspension. But you know the saying: better a regulated suspension than adjustable… Everything being well coordinated and giving off a pleasant feeling of rigidity from the first turns of the wheel, the pace increases without forcing.
However, it remains possible to adjust many other characteristics: the engine response, the aggressiveness of the automatic revival in downshifting, the steering assistance, the exhaust valves and ESP, in this case partially or totally disconnectable. To avoid getting lost in the middle of a sprint, the pair of large blue buttons on the steering wheel allow you to select two of your favorite configurations after having previously saved them. Does that remind you of other famous sportswomen? Maybe because the head of R&D at Hyundai is a former BMW M…
A final function attracts attention: the Launch Control the starting speed of which remains configurable to possibly adapt it to the grip conditions. In the dry, 0 to 100 km / h is called 6 ”2. Credible.
The engine, however, does not stand out as the centerpiece of the i20 N. Its fairly flat torque curve – 304 Nm from 2000 to 4000 rpm in N mode – gives it strength, but not much character. No need to look for the breaker systematically on all reports. The more so as the transmission with the tight stages “pulls” rather short to the standards of our time and highlights the first two thirds of the tachometer.
To compensate for this slight lack of mechanical relief, the active poppet exhaust definitely seduces by backfiring almost surprisingly considering the anti-pollution standards in force.
On the other hand, it is difficult to fault the chassis for anything. The level of lateral efficiency impresses. Motor skills too. Thanks to the mechanical limited-slip differential, standard on the French market, it is possible to restart very early on the curve. The train thus inspires great confidence. Failing to perfectly inform the grain of the bitumen, the steering makes it possible to adjust the trajectory with precision, at any time and without response time. The rear, obediently follows, possibly raising “the leg” when braking in support, in a typical GTI style of the 1980s. How can you resist ?! The choice of Pirelli P Zero specially developed for the occasion is paying off.
Without giving the thrilling sensation of being almost always on the cutting edge like a Ford Fiesta ST, its new rival suggests instead to always be able to go faster in bends. Which is not so bad, assuming that a small sports car like this is most often aimed at a clientele that does not necessarily have a great deal of piloting experience.
In addition to being a breath of fresh air in a heavy car climate, the “N” is mostly consistent. Affordable from all points of view, it is displayed at € 27,800 and does not swallow up the savings of its owner because of its consumption or its penalty. Count less than 9 l / 100 km despite a slightly heavy right foot and an ecological tax of less than € 1,300 in 2021.
So, the i20 N achieves what other small GTIs have failed to do so far: survive. And just for that, well done Hyundai!
Really indulging yourself without spending a fortune is still possible. So go for it before it’s too late.
- Docile and efficient behavior
- Exhaust sound
- Price and penalty content
We like less
- Almost ordinary motor character
- Management not very talkative
- Non-negligible damping firmness
Hyundai i20 N tech. Sheet
- Tested version: € 27,800
- From 27,800 €
- Average manufacturer consumption / during the test (l / 100 km): nc / 8.4
- CO2/malus : 158/1 276 €
- Fiscal power: 11 hp
- Country of Manufacture: Turkey
- Gasoline from 84 to 204 hp, from € 15,950 to € 27,800
- Engine: transverse front, 4-cylinder turbo, direct injection, 16 valves, variable chain distribution, stop & start, 1,598 cm3
- Transmission: traction, 6-speed mechanical
- Max power at rpm (hp): 204 to 5,500
- Max torque at rpm (Nm): 304 to 2,000
- Weight (kg): 1190
- Long.xlarg.xhaut. (m) : 4,08×1,78×1,44
- Wheelbase (m): 2.58
- Tank (l): 40
- Max speed (km / h): 230
- 0 to 100 km / h: 6 ”2
- Standard tires: 215/40 R18
- Test tires: Pirelli P Zero
- Elbow width AV / AR (cm): 146/144
- Rear leg length (cm): 71
- 5/2 chest (l): 352/1 165
- Metallic paint: 550 €
- Performance Blue paint: 550 €
- Ford Fiesta ST, from € 26,950
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