Last year Hyundai announced the launch of a performance centre based out of the Namyang facility in South Korea, called N division. Since they were launched they’ve done great things for Hyundai in the WRC, even achieving a few victories along the way. Now, we’re seeing the first fruits of the N-division on the road. This is Hyundai’s new i20 N-Sport.
Not a very catchy name, I know, but it’s set to be the new range topper of the i20 line-up and add a sportier tone to things.
Visually, the N-Sport receives new 17-inch alloy wheels, a Sport body kit (consisting of side skirts, front and rear bumper trim, and a rear boot spoiler), and ‘N’ badging on the front mudguards and tailgate.
Thankfully, it’s not just a cosmetic upgrade, although the mechanical tweaks aren’t numerous. The 1.4-litre Kappa engine from the regular i20 remains naturally aspirated, but thanks to a stainless-steel cat-back exhaust and tweaks to the engine programming, power is now up from 74kW @ 6000rpm to 85kW, with torque up from 133Nm @ 3500rpm to a peak of 160Nm. Drive still goes to the front wheels, via a 6-speed manual gearbox – but handling should be improved with the addition of a stiffer suspension setup.
Pricing on the i20 N-Sport is set at R235 500. What remains to be seen is whether the additional power is worthy of the N-sport badging, or whether Hyundai has made ‘N-Sport’ the laughing stock of the production car playground before they’ve even delivered anything of substance. For Hyundai’s sake, I hope it’s the former – but at this stage I’m leaning towards the N-Sport i20 being more cheesy than charismatic. Don’t expect it to trouble the Suzuki Swift Sport or Opel Corsa Sport at all either.