Skip advert
Advertisement

Hot Hatch of the Year 2021: Hyundai i20 N

The Hyundai i20 N is the 2021 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Honda Civic Type R and Cupra Leon commended

When Hyundai released the first model from its performance-focused N sub-brand, the i30 N, the Korean firm really grabbed the attention of hot hatch fans. But it’s the division’s second hot hatchback, the i20 N, that’s an absolute corker. Developed under the direction of ex-BMW M head Albert Biermann, the car distils everything we love about hot hatchbacks into an appealing, aggressive and affordable package. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Under the bonnet sits a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 201bhp and 275Nm of torque. It’s an angry-sounding unit, with the snarl of induction noise, and whistles from the turbo that come from the nose really helping to ramp up the excitement every time you venture towards the red line – and thanks to this car having one of the slickest six-speed manual gearboxes we’ve encountered, the incentive
to wring the engine out only grows stronger. 

Point the i20 N at a twisty section of road and it just gets better. The steering is positive and front-end grip is tenacious, with superb traction out of bends thanks to the clever mechanical limited-slip differential. With a brilliant level of body control and poise, the whole thing instills a huge degree of confidence at higher speed.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The i20 N deserves huge praise for the way it drives, then, but also for the five-door car’s functionality. And then you see the price; £24,995 for a hot hatch with this impressive mechanical make-up, a rev-matching function, part-leather sports seats, a 10.25-inch infotainment system with an equally large digital dash, and LED headlights makes this an absolute bargain. 

Best deal

Hyundai i20 N (£24,995)

There's just the one trim option for the i20 N, and it’s both competitively priced and generously kitted out. A representative quote from Hyundai includes a £1,500 deposit contribution from the manufacturer; with a further £2,500 placed up front, a three-year contract will result in payments of £360 per month. If you want this striking Performance Blue paint (or any other colour that’s not white), it’s an extra £16 per month.

Commended

Honda Civic Type R

type-r

The Honda Civic Type R is a serial winner of our Hot Hatch crown, but has to cede its title to the i20 N this time. However, the addition of the new Sport Line trim – with toned down styling and smaller wheels that improve the ride comfort even further – only adds to the appeal of Honda’s already brilliant offering. Its powertrain and chassis are wonderful.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Cupra Leon

Cupra Leon - front

The peak of Cupra’s ever-growing line-up is the Leon – a model which shares much with the Volkswagen GTI Clubsport. The Spanish brand’s offering has just a little extra flair, though; in its most potent spec it’s sharper and more playful to drive than the VW, yet is just as practical and relaxing to own. It’s also generously equipped for the cash and offers a more exclusive image.

New Car Awards 2021: the winners

Special edition of Auto Express

For the full experience, make sure you pick up a copy of our special New Car Awards collectors' edition of the Auto Express magazine, which is available in shops now.

Auto Express Issue 1,685

You can buy individual issues of Auto Express or subscribe for even bigger discounts on the magazine cover price. You can currently Subscribe and get 6 issues for just £1 or download our digital edition direct to your desktop, phone or tablet.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Used Hyundai i20 (Mk3, 2020-date) review: a classy and appealing supermini?
Used Hyundai i20 - front
Used car tests

Used Hyundai i20 (Mk3, 2020-date) review: a classy and appealing supermini?

A full used buyer’s guide on the Hyundai i20 covering the i20 Mk3 that’s been on sale since 2020
6 Apr 2024
Hyundai i20 N Line returns to supermini range
2024 Hyundai i20 N Line - front static
News

Hyundai i20 N Line returns to supermini range

The i20 was facelifted in 2023 without the sporty N Line derivative
23 Feb 2024
Hyundai i20 review
Hyundai i20 main image
In-depth reviews

Hyundai i20 review

It's not flawless, but the latest Hyundai i20 is the firm’s most competitive entrant into the supermini market yet
31 Jan 2024
Top 10 best superminis to buy 2024
Best superminis 2023
Best cars & vans

Top 10 best superminis to buy 2024

It's a hard-fought class, but these are the 10 best superminis on sale right now
15 Jan 2024

Most Popular

Toyota Yaris vs Renault Clio 2024 twin test: hybrid supermini battle
Toyota Yaris vs Renault Clio E-Tech - front tracking
Car group tests

Toyota Yaris vs Renault Clio 2024 twin test: hybrid supermini battle

With more and more electrified rivals arriving, Toyota has given its hybrid-only Yaris a facelift. We put it up against Renault’s class-leading Clio.
13 Apr 2024
'The cure for slow electric car sales is simple - lower prices'
Mike Rutherford opinion - Skoda Enyaq tracking shot
Opinion

'The cure for slow electric car sales is simple - lower prices'

Mike Rutherford thinks the prices of electric cars is the number one thing deterring consumers from making the switch
14 Apr 2024
New Volkswagen Golf 2024: facelifted hatchback icon on sale from 11 April
Facelifted Volkswagen Golf - front static
News

New Volkswagen Golf 2024: facelifted hatchback icon on sale from 11 April

The eighth-generation Golf has been given a mid-life refresh - just in time for the model’s 50th birthday
9 Apr 2024