2022 Hyundai i20 N review (video)

Alexi Falson

Over the years, Hyundai has proven it is no stranger to defying expectations, and its latest – and smallest – performance package, the i20 N, looks to be one of its best yet.

Designed as a direct competitor to the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GTI and the Ford Fiesta ST, the Hyundai i20 N receives a heaping of hardware and know-how from its performance skunkworks while retaining a very accessible price tag of just $34,990 (excluding on-roads). Prices have crept up about $2000 since it was first introduced, but many competitors are jumping up in price as well.

Just how good is the Hyundai i20 N, then, and how does it stack up against its rivals? Let’s find out.

2022 Hyundai i20 N – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 150kW@6000rpm / 275Nm@1750-4500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drive type: Front-wheel drive, limited-slip diff
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.5, 215/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1213kg
Power-to-weight: 8.08:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.9L/100km
Economy during test: 7.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 40L/91 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 21.73kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.41 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.67 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.27 seconds*
1/4 mile: 14.72 seconds at 157.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.728g*
100-0km/h braking: 2.93 seconds at 35.85 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.265g*
Decibel at idle: 41/45*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 88*
Priced from: $34,990[/column][end_columns]

* Figures based on our previous 2022 review, as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 Hyundai i20 N – THE PACKAGE

On the styling front, the i20 N is quick to make an impression, with its muscular front-end styling package, bright red brake calipers, and a sharp profile topped off by a rear wing. While the wing may well be overkill, it’s a welcomed nod to both the spirit of the hot-hatch and the outlandish character that Hyundai is aiming for with its burgeoning N lineup. 

Inside, the cabin is impressively well-equipped, especially considering the price tag. The chunky steering wheel is particularly attractive and feels quality, and it presents a pair of blue N buttons and a bright red rev-matching button. The N buttons modify the vehicle’s characteristics via the driving mode options.

The front of the i20’s cabin offers a set of sporty seats and a very user-friendly layout that feels familiar, with an impressively premium layout for the price point and the added bonus of a pair of digital screens and a Bose sound system.

While you’ll still find some cheap plastics floating around the dashboard and door sills, all the important switchgear and touch points you’ll knock up against on a long-distance journey gain some thoughtful padding.

In terms of space practicality, the i20 N is surprisingly spacious for its class. The front is obviously where you’ll want to be the most, as tall passengers will struggle to fit a pair of legs older than a young child in the rear, although the ISOFIX anchors may help you convince your significant other that it’s a child-friendly cabin.

Headroom in the rear is cramped for any adults brave enough to squeeze into the second row, while the practicality deal is ultimately sweetened by a fairly generous 310L of boot space. There is no spare wheel under the boot floor, but there is an extra storage cavity.

2022 Hyundai i20 N – THE DRIVE

There’s no two ways about it, at its core, the i20 N is a cheeky car, as every good hot-hatch should be. After just a few minutes of pushing it on an open, twisty road, we couldn’t help but wonder how on earth Hyundai has managed to squeeze this much fun into such an affordable package.

If you’re unfamiliar with the numbers, we’ll give you a quick rundown. Under the bonnet there’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that throws out 150kW at 6000rpm and 275Nm of torque between 1750-4500rpm. 

Power to those poor front wheels is channeled via a six-speed manual transmission only, with the added help of a mechanical limited-slip differential that helps to mitigate all that dreaded understeer that can plague a hot hatchback. And even a launch control system because, well, why not?

The end result is seriously rapid acceleration that, given its user-friendly nature, can be put to proper use in the hands of pretty much any normal driver. This the main ethos behind any truly commendable hot hatchback. 

The i20 N’s outright pace is one thing, but where the platform really shines is in the bends where it truly offers something for all levels of drivers thanks to its well-sorted springs, shocks, and a stiff anti-roll bar. It doesn’t come with adaptive dampers, but not many cars do at this price point.

Whether you’re looking to explore just how clever that front differential is or see when those Pirelli P Zeros give up the goat, or you’re just learning about high-speed turns while hoping to hear a couple of pops from the exhaust, the i20 N has you covered.

The relatively short gearing means you’ll be slamming your way through the short-throw ‘box like a madman when pushing it, adding to the sense of drama, while the performance brakes offer enough stopping power on a decent slog with very little fade. 

Tone everything down and the little i20N tries its best to be well-mannered around town and on the highway. The sporty suspension is understandably firm, capable of finding even the most minute of imperfections in the road and sending them straight through the cabin. And that’s totally fine for sporty driving, but it means if you’re planning on driving this daily, you’d better pray the council fixes any potholes close by.

On a similar note, the sharpened steering ratio and heavier weighting make the i20 N more of a chore around town, particularly with a relatively wide turning circle. Having said that, though, we really wouldn’t change a thing about the i20 N, because it remains the undisputed benchmark for the small hot hatch segment right now in terms of overall driver enjoyment.

After all, the process of making it more refined around town would only detract from its performance abilities and devilish character, which are the two things you’ll come to love most about this car.

2022 Hyundai i20 N – THE VIDEO

2022 Hyundai i20 N – THE VERDICT

The i20 N is an outstanding little hot hatch, and shares much of the DNA and fun-loving nature that made its bigger sibling, the i30 N, an instant hit. While the quest for speed and cornering prowess have undoubtedly come at the cost of its ride quality and even some everyday usability, we doubt that will change much for enthusiasts and, after all, that’s who this car is targeted at.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
Charming personality with exceptional handling dynamics
– Perky acceleration
– Impressive fuel economy figures
– Cabin layout and generous equipment list[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Exhaust isn’t quite as naughty as i30 N
– Price has moved up in recent times
– Long delivery times[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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