Hyundai i20N review: is this 201bhp hot hatch a match for the Fiesta ST?

Hyundai i20N review: is this 201bhp hot hatch a match for the Fiesta ST?


Welcome to one of 2021’s easiest-to-understand new cars: the Hyundai i20N. This isn’t a niche-busting crossover-urban-SUV hotchpotch with a hybrid propulsion system. Nope, this is old-school. It’s a 201bhp little hot hatch with big potential. But will it be a match for a Fiesta ST? Magazine’s Head of Testing, Ollie Marriage, has hit the road and track to find out… Series 30: Geneva Online Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?

so hello and welcome firstly to a bright and sunny day and secondly to hyundai’s new i20n hot hatch under 25 000 quid over 200 horsepower and inspired according to hyundai by the world rally car so like that it uses a 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine the rear wing takes inspiration from the rally car and it weighs an identical 1190 kilos which is commendably light actually now being a lucky saw i’ve actually had a go in hyundai’s world rally car and it is the single greatest thing i have ever ever driven so if this is even remotely as or inspiring to drive it could be the best small hot hatch for a generation out there is whales let’s see how it stacks up we’re not on dirt obviously this is a road car but don’t forget another company has recently built a very convincing rally inspired road car so maybe hyundai can do the same oh look right so what a first impressions well firstly it feels quite firmly suspended it’s quite tall but you turn it into corners it doesn’t roll much if you lean on it hard enough it’ll pick up an inside rear wheel as well but it’s got a mechanical differential in it so basically you could just tread on the power from the moment you turn in it and it’ll pull you through it’s really quite effective like that the drawback to the differential is that it’s a bit rough and cambered the steering gets pulled and you end up having a bit of a wrestle with it and this electric steering it’s nicely weighted but it doesn’t have much actual feel luckily the chassis and suspension does the corner is quite flat and firm and that’s not very rally really is it but let’s come clean here you and i both know that the wrc connection here is nothing more than marketing guff it’s thierry nerville posing in a brochure leaning on one of these it’s a nice bit of sales patter for the dealer but that’s it so don’t go thinking this is another toyota gr yaris it’s a different sort of hot hatch to that n hyundai keeps reminding us stands for nurburgring so ignore the rally claims this is more circuit focused silverstone it ain’t but a circuit it is mostly right before we head out on circuit let’s have a little walk around the i-20 n now one of the stipulations to borrowing it was high and i said we couldn’t test it against any of its competitors but that doesn’t stop us talking about them because there’s only one that matters now renault isn’t building hot clios anymore and that’s the ford fiesta st right a bit of compare and contrast then the i20n is five door only whereas the fiesta can be had with both three and five doors although i don’t think i’ve ever seen a five door um what do we think of the way it looks a few lines especially around the back which you’ll see in a bit quite busy but actually quite crisply executed it’s quite nice we’ve got 18 inch wheels as standard here led headlights it looks quite a complete car these little highlights here tomato red aggressive pirelli p0 tyres lots of end touches i reckon this is the better packaged car if that matters to you the boot is perfectly spacious there’s room underneath it and the seats fold and then if we get in the back seat allow five foot nine of me to demonstrate it’s reasonably spacious i can sit in the back this is not a very exciting shot i get you but look the floor’s low you sit quite high got decent headroom that does the trick the interior design is a bit plain although the end touches do elevate it the seats are on the wide side and the steering wheel rim is quite thick too no issues with the driving position although i’d quite like the steering wheel to come towards me a little bit more got a manual hand brake six-speed manual there’s no automatic double clutch or anything else you’ve got a lot of stuff going on in here and a lot of standard kit but the only stuff that you really need to know about are the end bits and pieces on it so if you start it up you’ve got two steering wheel buttons for n modes and you’ve got a red button here which is not a start button it’s the rev matching button so you press that when you change down it matches everything up for you but most of the functionality is tucked away in the screen and if you press on end mode you’ve got lots of information coming up and then lots of selectable modes for things so you press one of these buttons and you can choose how you want the car set up with like five different parameters sport everything in sport esc off let’s go and have a drive that 1.6 litre engine develops 201 horsepower and 203 pounds foot of torque a dash more power than the fiesta a little less torque but then remember it only weighs 1190 kilos that’s a me less than the fiesta now when we were on road i didn’t talk about the engine very much and there’s a reason for that it’s not the star of the show but now we’re on circuit it’s probably a good place to start rather than getting carried away with hurling around straight away it’s effective but not very exciting it pulls perfectly healthily from under 2000 rpm kicks at 4000 rpm and maintains its power pretty well but it’s a bit slow to gain revs and when you lift off the revs die away quite slowly as well it feels like the engine internals are a bit heavy and it makes the nature of the engine a bit sluggish but it’s not slow the claim naught to 60 is 6.7 seconds and it actually feels quite a bit quicker than that but you need to be in that sweet spot between about four and six thousand revs then it feels quite healthy and decent and that noise what do we think of the noise i think it’s a bit plain and muffled really you’ve got various different exhaust modes i’m in sport and i can go for sport plus it doesn’t really make a blind bit of difference it’s artificially enhanced it’s not really a great noise gearbox six-speed manual it’s absolutely fine it’s not super tight and mechanical but it’s clean you’re not gonna miss gears in it it’s got a nice shift and you can heal and tow yourself really nicely and if you want the car to do it for you you’ve got a big red rev button on the steering wheel and it can do the rev matching for you but a point on that you’d imagine that rev matching would either be on or off but here you’ve actually four different modes for it off normal sport and sport plus well if you put it in normal it doesn’t quite rev match it’s just a little bit sluggish and the revs aren’t quite high enough so you need to be another sport or sport plus and they as far as i can work out are completely indistinguishable i do like it actually i do like this it’s got really good grip and turning although the steering doesn’t have much natural feel because it’s quite tightly controlled and you’ve got that strong diff in the front you get a lot of communication back through it that’s good right how are the brakes they’re nice and firm underfoot good bit of bite and they’re strong i’m enjoying this actually i mean landau’s not a big circuit so car doesn’t feel out of his depth little car like this it’s also as you can see down there got a manual handbrake wonder what happens if you pull that ha it’s not a gr yaris manual handbrake it doesn’t really do very much at all but the differential is doing a good job here on track where the tarmac’s smoother not really having anything to complain about in the fiesta it makes more sense to have a limited slip differential because it rolls more so it unweights that inside tyre and makes it more likely to spin up the diff can keep that in hand but here the chassis has more rigid control so i’m not sure the limited slip differential is actually necessary but there are no adaptive dampers the i30n this car’s big brother gets them but the i20n doesn’t anyway loads more functionality and stuff to play with than there is in the fiesta what it isn’t is as playful as the fiesta that’s the thing it lacks slightly it doesn’t have the same sort of real up for it tippy toe feel that the fiesta is so so good at it just makes it feel engaging and super agile all the time this feels sort of more settled and composed and planted like it rides that bit lower so the amount of traction and grip it’s got is really impressive and it does feel like a sort of junior i30 if you like in that it’s much more sort of composed and controlled the ride is firm on the road but then who minds about that really cars like this should be a bit compromised they should have little drawbacks like that and when you back off refinement is fine actually all good hyundai well done proved you can do hot hatches it’s a proper straight talking hot hatch this i mean if you look at what else is out there besides the fiesta st i mean what have you got you’ve got the 208 gti the polo gti the mini cooper s this has more attitude and sporting intent than any of them it’s not the most fluent refined or smooth riding car but it feels really well-rounded and complete probably more so than the fiesta less than 25 grand for this i think hyundai have got a winner on their hands you

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