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The Hyundai i20N is Korea’s new 201bhp hot hatch

Meet the superb i30N’s little sister. This newcomer or a Fiesta ST?

Welcome to one of 2020’s easiest-to-understand new cars. This isn’t a niche-busting crossover-urban-SUV hotchpotch with a hybrid propulsion system that even Tony Stark couldn’t explain. Nope, this is old-school. The new Hyundai i20N is a little hot hatch with big potential.

Based on Hyundai’s sharp-looking i20 supermini, the N gets 201bhp, a manual gearbox, a limited-slip front differential and front-wheel drive. Oh, and a body kit. Looks like a punchy little tyke, no?

Behind the grinning grille lies a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, good for 203lb ft of torque. That’s enough to punt the 1,190kg i20N from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. 

These aren’t record-breaking numbers, but they’re bang on the money for a small hot hatch. And if the i30N taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to be the most powerful hot hatchback in the playground to be the most fun…

Underneath, the steering’s faster than a standard i20’s, while the suspension’s lower and stiffer. And while you can’t fiddle with the stiffness settings for a bumpy road, you can alter just about everything else.

Modes. The i20N’s got ‘em. Normal, Eco, Sport, N and N Custom settings tweak the engine response, ESC intervention, exhaust noise and steering weight. The N Division calls this mix’n’match mood the ‘N Grin Control System’. We’ll let them off if the car’s any good to drive. We’ve already tested a prototype at the Nürburgring, and it seemed to be on the right track, so to speak.

Inside there’s bolstered seats, sportier graphics on the screens, flashier pedals and of course lots of buttons on the steering wheel for tweaking those modes just how you like them. 

Sales kick off next spring, which gives you this winter to work out whether you want one of these, or the seemingly unbeatable Ford Fiesta ST…

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