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Long-term review

Hyundai i20N - long-term review

£24,995 OTR/£25,545 as tested/£311pcm
Published: 08 Nov 2021
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Hyundai i20N

  • ENGINE

    1598cc

  • BHP

    204bhp

  • 0-62

    6.2s

Say hello to our new Hyundai i20N

It’s fair to say the Hyundai i20N has impressed so far. A pale blue example swept aside SF90s and GT3s to claim our Performance Car of the Year title – a fairly major headline for any £25k hatchback, whether its development team has infamously been nabbed from M Division or not. The i20N also beat the latest M3, incidentally…

But ET21XVP landed in the Top Gear Garage with an altogether tougher hurdle in its way. I’d argue it’s pretty easy for an overengined rollerskate to outmanoeuvre a 986bhp hybrid supercar on a British B-road. A much sterner test of a car that allows you to squeeze out a significant amount of its performance at moral speeds? A pathetic faux fuel crisis.

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Yep, XVP was delivered on the very day the panic-buyers dried up Britain’s petrol stations. With 700 miles of travel firmly booked in the days following I’d have no choice but to leave its numerous performance modes alone and its limited-slip differential relatively untaxed to eke out decent fuel economy.

And to ignore the hilariously goading ‘S-bend ahead. N mode on?’ prompts from the instruments (yes, really). ‘Panic-ridden public ahead! Coast the rest of the way home sobbing into the steering wheel with frustration?’ might have been more appropriate.

Could it feel anything other than a long-warrantied Korean hatchback in such frugal circumstances? The simple answer is yes. I already know from running an i30N for ten months that Hyundai knows how to make a practical car feel very punchy indeed, even at low exertion levels.

The i20N comes solely with a manual gearbox and handbrake, keeping its most prosaic of functions as mechanically involving as they can feasibly be, while its 201bhp 4cyl turbo has gnarly vocals whether you’ve cranked the exhaust through its three levels of friskiness or not. My first taste of i20N life may have been slow and steady, but it’s still been satisfying. Phew.

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Speccing an i20N is wondrously easy. Everything comes as standard within its £24,995 list price – including hugging, heated sports seats, 10in digital dials, a reversing camera and 18in alloys wrapped in Pirelli P Zeros – with your sole option being colour.

 

We’ve swerved the ubiquitous blue for Dragon Red, the only one of Hyundai’s seven hues to lose the slightly silly red detailing daubed on the sills and splitters, making this the most mature i20N configuration on sale. As a hot hatch die-hard deep in my mid-thirties, I find that heartachingly appealing. Want to save the £550 on optional paint? Your single standard colour choice is Elemental Brass, aka light brown. With the red daubings. Spend the extra money…

Mileage: 1660 Our mpg: 36.6

Photography: Mark Delaney

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