New 2021 Hyundai i20 N spied tearing around the Nurburgring

Hyundai’s i20 N hot hatchback will make its debut next year, offering new competition for the Ford Fiesta ST

Our spy photographers have spotted the upcoming Hyundai i20 N hot hatchback undergoing development testing on the Nurburgring ahead of its launch. The Korean brand’s all-new B-segment hot hatch will reach the UK market in 2021, providing fresh competition for the Ford Fiesta ST.

These latest spy shots reveal several new details about the Hyundai i20 N’s styling; this mule wears the same sporty body kit and large rear spoiler as previously spotted test cars – but Hyundai has fitted a new oval exhaust system, which could find its way onto the finished car.

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Our exclusive images offer anindication of how the finished i20 N could look when it reaches UK showrooms next year. It’ll share its body-in-white with the new, third-generation i20 hatchback – but feature a host of cosmetic and performance upgrades, including a wider track, larger alloys, improved brakes and lower suspension.

The i20 N’s cabin will receive a similar range of sporty trappings – all of which will be carefully selected to keep the hot hatchback competitive with the Fiesta ST on price. As such, the major interior revisions will be new sports seats, a sports steering wheel and an N-branded gear stick. Overall, though, it should feel similar to the standard car.

New 2021 Hyundai i20 N: platform and powertrain

Despite the design similarities to the standard i20, Hyundai remains adamant that the i20 N will drive differently to the entry-level car, thanks to its unique steering and suspension systems. Both have been honed at the Nurburgring, which is something Hyundai’s R&D boss, Albert Biermann (who was formerly at the helm of BMW’s M division), believes is essential to the N brand’s chances of long-term success.

The mass-market third-generation i20 is based on a new platform – and, while the new car was launched in the UK with 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol power only, the supermini’s chassis can also accommodate the Korean company’s four-cylinder engines.

Hyundai’s most recent teaser video all but confirmed the company’s plans to use a higher displacement, four-cylinder unit in the i20 N, which should give its hot supermini enough clout to compete with the Fiesta ST and Polo GTI – both of which produce 197bhp.

As it’s expensive to develop an all-new engine, we expect Hyundai will use a detuned version of the i30 N’s existing turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with an expected output of around 200bhp. The prototype in the company’s recent teaser video also had an exhaust note which was eerily similar to that of the larger i30 N.

The engine should be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and, due to the i20’s relatively light kerb-weight, a 0–62mph time of around seven seconds should be attainable, along with a top speed of over 140mph. Buyers should also get a range of drive modes and a reasonably sophisticated traction control system.

New 2021 Hyundai i20 N: market and pricing

The i20 N will be introduced at a time of increasing uncertainty for small, fast hatchbacks, due to the latest European fleet-wide emissions regulations – which car manufacturers must adhere to or face hefty fines. As such, low volume, high CO2 projects, such as the i20 N, are becoming more difficult for car companies to justify.

Peugeot has all but confirmed that any GTI version of the 208 has to be fully electric, given the emissions rules and the limitations of the platform it uses, while a Renaultsport version of the latest Clio has been axed. 

Hyundai, however, has a good head start on its pure-electric and hybrid technology, with the fully electrified Ioniq hatchback and Kona crossover. As such, it has a bit of leeway in its CO2 fleet average to play with – hence the arrival of the new i20 N.

What’s more, we’re expecting a starting price of around £20,000 for the i20 N, which should give Hyundai’s founding sporty supermini a competitive edge against the Fiesta ST – which is currently priced from £21,500 in the UK.

What do you make of the new Hyundai i20 N? Let us know in the comments section below…

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