Is Hyundai working on Swift Sport killer? i20 N test mule spotted
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We've said plenty about the big-boy hot hatch battle, where the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf R, and many more reside. But, what about the little leagues?
In New Zealand the battle between the Ford Fiesta ST (new three-cylinder model coming at the end of the year), Volkswagen Polo GTI, and Suzuki Swift Sport is relatively straightforward. The Swift is the spunky value choice, the Polo packs plenty of big-engine-in-little-car thrills, and the Fiesta sits somewhere in the middle as the general favourite.
And, it looks like Hyundai are about to dive into the battle too with an N-ified i20.
A Hyundai i20 N test mule has been spotted at and around the iconic Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit (you know what the N stands for, right?).
Reports on the development of an i20 N have been bouncing around the internet for most of the year, with the likes of Autocar UK stating that the project was supposed to land last year only to be delayed by the South Korean's focus on electrification technology development.
Blink, and you'd potentially miss the significance of the aforementioned, aforephotographed silver hatchback. In many respects, it looks like any other i20 — perhaps with a few little hooligan-friendly tweaks. But, key differences are there if you look.
The first thing noticeable on its exterior are new, larger 18-inch wheels and a lower ride-height. There's also a beefed up brake package behind each wheel, and even a slightly backyard-looking cut into the rear bumper to accommodate the larger, dual-pipe exhaust system.
The elements that underline that this car's a likely mule include the clear extensions to the wheel-arches on all four corners. This undoubtedly hints at plans to expand the width of the diminutive i20's track. Those who spied the car in the flesh also confirmed that each wheel was wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero 215/40 rubber and had an N-branded 6-speed shift nob between driver and passenger.
Although there are limited hints around what engine the i20 N is likely to utilise, it's been speculated that it could use a version of the turbocharged 1.6-litre available in the Tucson and making 130kW. With a bit of a tweak, it could be a considerable rival to the quickest cars in the segment.
What further supports the claims are enthusiastic statements made by the man himself; Hyundai N Division boss Albert Biermann.
“Of course. Why would we limit ourselves to C-segment?" he reflected, in a 2017 interview. "There are tons of hot superminis out there – Polo GTI, Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 and even Toyota now is doing one. There’s a good market out there.”