New 2021 Hyundai i20 N to rival Ford Fiesta ST with 200bhp
Hyundai is looking to establish itself as a big player in the performance car market, with a hot version of its i20 supermini. Due to be officially revealed this year and set to arrive in showrooms in the next 12 months, the i20 N will have the Ford Fiesta ST firmly in its sights.
The small hot hatchback market is facing an increasingly uncertain future, with manufacturers desperate to cut fleet emissions or face hefty fines. The cost of engineering these cars, and being able to sell them at a profitable but affordable price, has proved too much for some; there are no plans to introduce new Volkswagen Polo GTI, Cupra Ibiza or Renaultsport Clio models in the future.
But Hyundai, which has an established range of fully electric and hybrid vehicles, has a bit of leeway to play with, hence the imminent arrival of the i20 N. Prototypes have been regularly spotted undergoing final stages of the development cycle, testing on the Nürburgring in Germany.
Our exclusive images preview how it will look when it hits showrooms early next year. 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, on a unique suspension set-up.
Similarly, the interior will receive a makeover, although it should stay pretty faithful to the standard car. Expect 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 stubby gearlever, too.
It will drive significantly differently though, thanks to a unique suspension system and steering set-up honed at the Nürburgring – something that Hyundai R&D boss Albert Biermann, formerly at the helm of BMW’s M division, believes is essential to the N brand’s chances of long-term success.
The latest i20 supermini features a new platform, and while the standard car is arriving in the UK exclusively with 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol power, it’s designed to accommodate four-cylinder engines. Hyundai is likely to turn to greater cylinder count and displacement in order to give the i20 N the power to compete with the Fiesta ST, which musters 197bhp.
Hyundai’s latest Veloster Turbo, which isn’t currently sold in the UK or Europe, features a 201bhp version of the firm’s 1.6-litre turbo ‘Gamma’ engine, so it’s a likely candidate for the i20 N. That will ensure a 0-62mph time around the 6.5-second mark and a top speed in excess of 140mph.
In terms of price, expect the i20 N to come in at around £20,000, or even slightly less when it arrives early next year. That would give the Hyundai the upper hand for value, because the ST starts at around £21,500.
What do you think of our exclusive Hyundai i20 N images? Let us know your thoughts below…