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Hyundai Austria hints at hot i20 N, possibly for Oz

Baby N: Hyundai could be set to lob a Fiesta ST and Polo GTI rival in the form of its baby i20 city car.

The Hyundai N Performance line looks set to expand with i20 N teased on YouTube

11 Mar 2020

HYUNDAI Austria has dropped the biggest hint yet as to the increasing possibility of an i20 N hot hatch, a car Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) says it would be very interested in securing Down Under.


Glimpsed in a three second snippet at the end of a YouTube video teasing the new i20, Hyundai has all but confirmed the existence of a hot i20 with the blacked-out silhouette sharing the same basic form as the regular car but enhanced by purposeful looking bulges, prominent roof spoiler, bigger and more aggressive alloy wheels, more aerodynamic front and rear aprons, chunkier wheelarches and red side-skirts.


Further confidence can be drawn from the background of the shot itself, with the solid blank background being a similar shade of grey-blue as the hero Performance Blue of the i30 N.


No details have been released by Hyundai, other than the 26-second teaser video concluded with the words “to be continued…”, seemingly hinting at more details to come.


Despite not currently offering the regular i20 in Australia, HMCA senior manager for PR, sponsorship and events Guido Schenken said the brand would be very interested in securing an i20 N for Australia.


“We've made no secret of the fact our focus is on building an N performance family in Australia, so we will of course be studying the business case for any new N product that should become available,” he said.


“An i20 N would make logical sense given our i20 WRC programme, and something we would be very interested in for our market.”


Given its size and the regular i20’s position in the global market, an N performance version would almost inevitably wade into the baby hot hatch battle against the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI.


Both these cars produce 147kW of power and about 300Nm of torque (290Nm for the Ford, 320Nm for the VW) courtesy of small turbocharged engines, throwing down the gauntlet for the hi-po i20 newbie.


Luckily however, Hyundai already has a similarly-sized engine in its line-up – a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol unit – developing broadly similar levels of power and torque (150kW/265Nm) currently doing service in the bigger i30 N-Line.


Transmission options would also already be taken care of given the force-fed 1.6-litre is shipped exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in the i30 N-Line, not to mention the six-speed manual fitted as standard to the full-fruit i30 N or the looming eight-speed dual clutch unit for the same car.


If the hot i20 does make it to Australian shores, it would not be the first time HMCA has offered a performance version of model not sold locally, ala the i30 Fastback N.


“We currently only source i30 N and i30 Fastback N from Europe, all other Hyundai models on sale in Australia are sourced from South Korea,” Mr Schenken said.


“European exchange rates make it difficult to justify the business case for non-N models.”


In terms of pricing, the Ford Fiesta ST retails from $31,990 plus on-road costs while VW charges $32,490 for the Polo GTI, meaning the i20 N should enter the market – if it is offered here – at about the $30,000 mark, in keeping with the bigger i30 N undercutting its rivals by a few thousand dollars.

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