2021 Hyundai i20 N officially previewed

Ford Fiesta ST rival heads to Sweden for cold-weather testing with WRC champ Thierry Neuville at the wheel.

Hyundai has released official images that show its upcoming i20 N perfromance testing alongside the firm’s WRC racer and mid-engined RM19 prototype.

The long-awaited Ford Fiesta ST rival has previously been seen at the Nurburgring sporting heavy camouflage, but the wraps have started to come off as winter testing gets under way in Arjeplog, Sweden, giving us an idea of how it will be set apart from the recently facelifted standard car.

The prototype pictured is painted in the N division’s now-familiar shade of grey and sits atop a set of bespoke sports alloys wrapped in low-profile rubber, behind which lie much bigger front and rear brake discs than those of the standard i20. The i20 N also appears to sit closer to the ground for a lower centre of gravity and improved dynamic performance.

The front and rear of the test car remain shielded from view, suggesting the hot hatch will gain additional bespoke styling details – likely a rear spoiler, front splitter, enlarged air intakes and an extra exhaust outlet – in line with its bigger 130 N stablemate.

Hyundai WRC driver Thierry Neuville was on hand in Sweden to give his impressions on the i20 N: “Very interesting car. Very precise. Very easy handling. The engine is revving nicely and the noise is very interesting as well. I’m looking forward to get this one to drive in the WRC.”

Neuville’s current racer, the i20 WRC, was also present, alongside the brand’s RM19 mid-engined prototype test bed, both of which are claimed to have inspired the development of the latest addition to Hyundai’s performance portfolio.

Although the i20 N will not match the 283kW RM19 for outright power, the brand is confident that it will be “racetrack capable”. Although Hyundai is yet to confirm details of its powertrain, we’re expecting the model to make use of an upgraded version of the brand’s 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol motor for a power output of around 150kW.

Elsewhere, the i20 N will gain a stiffer suspension set-up, sports seats and a range of new configurable driving modes.

There’s no word yet on when we can expect to see the i20 N officially unwrapped, although it’s set to join the i30 N and a new Kona N hot crossover in dealerships from early next year.

Felix Page

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