Following previous test mule sightings and the release of a teaser image online, our photographers have snapped the hot i20 supermini testing on the Nürburgring. The model will rival other junior hot hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot’s future 208 GTi, with that idyllic combination of a small body and a potent powertrain, plus some Hyundai N magic thrown in for good measure.
Despite the somewhat abstract nature of the image, we can clearly see a few elements applied to a new generation of i20 that point towards this being the full-fat N version, rather than the incoming N-Line trim level that will also join the i20 range in time.
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These elements include the red strip along the sill, and large turbine-like wheels, while compared to the standard i20 it also looks to feature a tall rear wing, bulkier rear bumper and deeper front splitter.
The i20 N’s powertrain is still an unknown quantity. However, the 2-litre turbocharged ‘Theta’ engine that’s found in the i30 N is unlikely to be a good fit within the i20’s daintier chassis due to its size and weight. One possible alternative is a high-output version of the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the Kona, but it will likely integrate a mild-hybrid 48V system as found in the majority of the standard i20 range.
Power figures are purely speculative at this stage, but somewhere around 200bhp will make the car competitive with the Fiesta ST (197bhp), while not wandering too close to the standard, non-Performance version of the i30 N (247bhp).
A future i20 N will be entering a tough segment though, as the Ford Fiesta ST is as strong, willing and talented as ever. A GTi version of Peugeot’s incoming 208 has yet to be confirmed, but it might well arrive with an electric motor rather than petrol due to legislative pressures.
But the i20 N comes with plenty of momentum from within Hyundai, as the i30 N proved that the Korean brand has what it takes to develop a superb hot hatch. With a likely arrival date sometime in 2020, the i20 N won’t be around for long as the i20 will have already been six years into its model cycle by that time, but regardless of this it remains an exciting possible addition to the Hyundai N range.