We get our hands on the i20 N Line. Looks good, runs well too?
We drive the first N line model from Hyundai for India. While it carries over the same 1000cc turbo petrol unit, there are tweaks to make it more rewarding to drive. Scroll below to read our review...
Born at Namyang, and honed at the Nürburgring they say, but are the N line vehicles seriously as good as they are claimed to be? While the N Line cars sold in the global market often come with (more) powerful engines and boast many other changes, the first N Line to debut in the Indian market, the i20 N comes with the same powertrain as we have seen in the standard models. This made many people believe, and comment that this new model is just show and no go. However, does that hold true or is the Hyundai i20 N better and improved? Hyundai has made as many as 27 changes such as addition of all wheel disc brakes, reworked suspension, altered steering rations, etc and is just charging a premium of as low as INR 50,000 over the standard model. How good is the car, and should you buy one? Read on to find out…
What we like
- Impressive ride-handling balance
- Much improved steering and suspension setup
- Engaging and fun to drive
- Dependable after-sales support and good reliability
- Feature rich and spacious cabin with a long list of safety equipment
- Great fuel economy
What could be better
- Same 1.0-L T-GDi motor on offer, no manual gearbox either
- Slightly more expensive for what it offers
- Conservative tuning of the DCT gearbox takes a toll on the performance
The third-gen Hyundai i20 is known to offer an aggressive yet a busy design language which is definitely polarizing and may not be appreciated by everyone at first glance. However, we all will definitely agree to the fact that the new i20 does boast of a strong road presence and the overall styling makes it highly attractive. The N line takes this design further and comes with a number of additions that complement the character of the car. Beginning with the front, the car now boasts a new grille with chequered flag finish and a prominent N line badge. Lower down, the bumper gets some minor tweaks such as addition of gloss black element that extends on both the sides to give a faux vent look while the red finish in the centre looks appealing and gives that sporty touch to already aggressive front fascia.
In all, while the design may look a little too cluttered to many, others will definitely like this look, all thanks to the fact that the car does seek a lot of attention. Changes made to the side profile are limited but noticeable. The car now gets new machine-cut sixteen inch alloy wheels which remain exclusive to the N Line range while the side skirts too are a new edition. The same red finish is seen on the sides and on the brake calipers which do stand out, especially if you have the white or the blue colour. The wind tunnel influenced side mirror caps with a gloss black finish further complements the styling of the car.
The rear of the car too gets some major updates. For starters, the car now gets gloss black spoiler and curtain winglets on either sides of the rear glass. The chrome finish on the strip connecting the two taillights on standard i20 is now replaced by a dark-chrome finish. On the right bottom corner of the tail gate is the N line badge while the same i20 badge is seen on the left corner of tail gate as seen on the standard i20. The rear bumper however does have a number of changes to talk about. To start with, we now get a double-walled twin-exhaust tip setup that looks extremely sporty while the gloss black finish on the faux diffuser too looks interesting.
The i20N is available with four exterior colour options – Thunder blue, Titan grey, Fiery red, and Polar white. Optional dual tone options, which include Thunder Blue + Phantom black roof and Fiery Red + Phantom Black roof, are also on offer for those interested. It is worth noting that the Thunder blue colour option will be exclusive to the N line range.
While the all-black cabin of the new Hyundai i20 N looks striking and sporty, the quality levels could have been better at some places. Having said this, the car does feature some notable changes that make it more appealing. The most prominent changes include addition of a new N steering along with premium and sporty N gear selectors. Not only is the leather used to wrap the steering extremely premium and nice to touch, but the overall feel while holding the steering too is great.
The multi functional controls on the steering feel tactile and are well within the reach of the driver. Just like the steering, the gear shifters on both the DCT as well as the iMT version feel premium and nice to hold. Having said this, other changes include the addition of red inserts on the AC vents, door pads, and on the seat upholstery as well. The all black seats also get contrast red stitching that looks very sporty. Furthermore, the car gets red ambient lights and aluminum pedals to complement the overall N theme inside the car.
Apart from this, the car retains the same 10 inch infotainment system along with the fully digital instrument console, both of which are easy to read and understand. Other features offered with the i20 N include a wireless charging pad, automatic climate control, a large sunroof, soft-ambient lighting, etc.
Space up front is enough for most of the people and the seats offer great comfort. The headroom at the front and at the rear is sufficient, even for the taller adults. The legroom at the rear is impressive and the seat bench too offers great comfort. There is however no split folding option available, even on the N8 trim. The boot is large and can accommodate a fair amount of luggage. In all, the cabin of the Hyundai i20 N is not only good looking and feature rich, but also boasts impressive space, comfort, and practicality, thus making it play the role of a perfect family hatchback as well.
Engine & Gearbox
The new Hyundai i20 N, just like the standard version, gets the same 1.0-L turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine. This engine boasts a maximum power output of 120 PS and 172 Nm of peak torque. Two transmission options are on offer which include a seven-speed DCT and a six-speed iMT gearbox. While no changes have been made to this setup when compared to the standard models, the N line DCT does come with paddle shifters.
While the engine did impress us with its punchy performance, good refinement and NVH levels, and great fuel economy figures, there is no change in the overall performance. Just like before, the DCT gearbox will not hold a gear beyond 6500 rpm while downshifting to a lower gear above 3000 rpm is also not possible in the D mode. On the plus side, you can have a manual control in both the D and in the S mode using the paddle shifters. The S mode however does make the gearbox slightly more aggressive and faster with the shifts. This mode also makes it easier to hold the gears upto the redline. However, just like in the D mode, you will not be able to aggressively downshift in the S mode either. In all, while the powertrain does offer decent performance, the hardcore driving enthusiasts may not appreciate it for what it offers.
On the other hand, the i20N does feature a new exhaust setup which gets a new twin pot end-can muffler with a twin tip setup. The exhaust note is now better but is not loud enough to be heard when the tachometer climbs up. The exhaust however is more prominent at the low revs or while decelerating slowly.
We only drove the DCT gearbox hence our observations for the iMT will be reserved until we get our hands on that version.
The i20 N is said to come with 30 per cent stiffer dampers when compared to the standard model. The new suspension setup not only results in much better handling and high speed stability, but has also greatly reduced body roll and has made the car more agile. While the ride quality is not as good at the slow speeds, it does tend to get better as the speeds go higher. On the highways, the car feels more planted and the ride too is flat, without any bounciness on the undulations.
The Hyundai i20 N also gets a tweaked steering due to which the feel and feedback is much better than before. Not only does the steering weighs up decently well as the speeds go up, but in addition to this, it also feels a lot more direct and progressive than before. In all, all these changes have definitely improved the dynamics of the i20 N and the car feels much better to drive.
The braking performance too is significantly better now as the i20 N gets an all wheel disc brake setup. While the initial bite is not as strong as one would like it to be, the overall braking performance is great and the car remains stable under heavy braking. Stock tyres too offer decent grip levels but better rubber should have been offered by the brand.
The Hyundai i20 N is definitely one of those cars that attempts to bridge performance and practicality as it not only offers an extremely comfortable, spacious, and a feature rich cabin to keep your family happy, but in addition to this, also packs in decent performance, impressive dynamics, and smart looks for those who appreciate fun to drive machines. Having said this, while a manual gearbox will definitely be missed by the hardcore enthusiast, the car does offer a more involving driving experience which still remains a USP in this segment. Also, the range starts at under Rs 10 lakh, thus providing enthusiasts a sensible purchase option for a loaded premium hatchback that can also be rewarding to drive.