And the Ford Fiesta ST. This could be the reason why no one else cares. The same reason no one builds a Porsche 911 rival. The fast Fiesta is so well suited to what it does, it’s everything for everyone. But here is Hyundai tackling it head-on. Four cylinders instead of three for the turbocharged engine, but nearly identical horsepower and torque figures at 201 hp and 203 lb-ft. All sent to the front wheels via a mandatory six-speed manual transmission and standard limited-slip differential. In some markets the latter will be optional, but in the UK the i20N comes fully equipped as standard.
Which is why it costs £ 24,995, when the Fiesta starts at £ 21,950. But in fact, the Fiesta that almost everyone owns is the £ 24,575 ST3, which adds Recaro seats and the Performance Pack’s limited slip differential. Spec for spec, they are evenly matched.
Hyundai says the i20N is based on the i20 WRC rally car. Of course it does – they have to somehow justify the sporty crossover, even if it only indicates the corresponding displacement of the road car and the same curb weight of 1190 kg. It is commendable in fact, more than 70 kg under the Fiesta even if it has five doors. No three-door version available, which is likely to put off those who don’t want people to think they’ve bought a happy family buyer.
At least you can specify it in the Performance Blue paint, and all of them are covered in Tomato Red lipstick. Clean lines too, although perhaps too many around the rear three-quarters. Compared to a standard i20 supermini, there are also LED headlights, 10mm suspension, a ‘WRC-inspired’ roof spoiler, 18-inch wheels, beefed up brakes and – like the i30N – a wide range of driving modes configurable inside.
The mechanics are quite sophisticated and the changes from the standard wide-range i20 reinforce Hyundai’s claims that this is a hot hatch for the driver. The engine is equipped with an intercooler and 350 bar injection, the gearbox has been reinforced, the chassis reinforced with 12 additional points, there is a new anti-roll bar, springs and shock absorbers, more camber on the wheels, reinforced suspension turrets and that Torsen (torque sensing) differential lock to give the front a bit of bite and attitude under power.
Claims are 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and 143mph, although you may be more interested in the unconfirmed mpg and CO2 figures. If so, you are wrong. It even has a launch control system, and you’ll want to test it out. Inside, there’s plenty of N-Mark and cool screen data to keep you occupied, including lap and throttle timers, although we’re betting the center 10.25 touchscreen inches will more often be configured to handle Apple Carplay or Android Auto. There are well reinforced seats and a manual handbrake.
You might think this will bring some rallying shenanigans to the Toyota GR Yaris. If so, you are misleading yourself. This is rally inspired for marketing reasons only. The driving experience, like the i30N before it, is more track inspired. Remember that the N in its name stands for Nurburgring.