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New 2021 Hyundai i20 N hot hatch confirmed in revealing teasers

The new Hyundai i20 N will sit below the i30 N in the brand’s growing performance car line-up and will rival the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTI

This is our first official look at what will be the next car to enter Hyundai’s burgeoning performance car line-up: the Hyundai i20 N. 

As we revealed a month ago, the company is in the final stages of developing a hot supermini to rival the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI. Now confirmed, Hyundai says the prototype you see in the new images is undergoing winter testing in the Arctic Circle, and while the camo is slowly coming off to reveal the sporty bodykit, technical details are firmly under wraps.

In a new teaser video on YouTube (below), Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville puts the i20 N through its paces. Although the company has not confirmed any technical specifications, you can clearly hear in the clip an exhaust note eerily similar to that of the larger i30 N.

At the very least it confirms four-cylinder turbo power, while the engine may indeed be the same as the one found in the i20 N’s larger sibling, with a 2.0-litre capacity but detuned to around 200bhp. 

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Hyundai says we’ll find out more “soon”, and we anticipate a full reveal in the late summer, before the new car goes on sale early next year. 

Due to the latest fleet emissions rules, the i20 N will be introduced at a time of increasing uncertainty surrounding the market for small fast hatchbacks. Carmakers must adhere to them or face hefty fines, and low volume, high CO2 like hot, petrol powered superminis are becoming harder for car manufacturers to justify. 

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Peugeot has all but confirmed that any GTI version of the new 208 has to be fully electric, given the emissions rules and the limitations of the platform it uses. SEAT has backtracked on a Cupra version of the new Ibiza, despite showing a near production ready car in 2018. And a new Renaultsport version version of the latest Clio won’t happen either. Hyundai, with a good head start when it comes to fully-electric and hybrid vehicles, has a bit of leeway to play with though, hence the imminent arrival of the i20 N.

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Our exclusive images preview how it could look when it hits showrooms early next year, only a few months after regular versions of the brand new third-generation i20 begin to hit the roads. A sporty bodykit with a wider track is expected, as are new wheels housing uprated, larger brakes all round. The i20 N will sit lower to the ground too.

Similarly, the interior will receive a range of unique fittings and applications, but managed in order to keep the i20 N competitive with the Fiesta ST on price. As such, the main revisions inside will be sports seats up front, a sports steering wheel - possibly with new buttons to alter any driving modes the i20 N comes with on the fly - and a sports gear stick too. However, overall it should feel pretty similar to the normal car.

It will drive significantly differently though, thanks to a unique suspension system and steering honed at the Nurburgring - something Hyundai R&D boss Albert Biermann, formerly at the helm of BMW M, believes is essential to the N brand’s chances of long-term success. 

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The new i20 uses a new platform, and while the new car is likely to launch in the UK with 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol power only, it can accommodate four-cylinder engines. The new teaser video all but confirms Hyundai will turn to greater cylinder count to give its hot supermini the sort of potency needed to compete with the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI, both delivering 197bhp.

With a detuned version of the 2.0-litre engine in the i20 N, the 200bhp barrier should be easily attainable for the i20 N, ensuring a 0-62mph time under seven seconds and possibly near the 6.5-second mark. Top speed over 140mph seems well within reach, while a price tag of £20,000 or even just under when it lands would give the Hyundai the upper hand for value, given the Fiesta ST now starts from around £21,500.

Check out the latest new cars due in 2020...

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