While we’ve heard plenty about the upcoming Hyundai i30 N, a new report out of the UK suggests the company is considering a high-performance version of the smaller i20 light hatch, which could debut around 2019.
“Of course. Why would we limit ourselves? There are tons of hot superminis (light hatches): Polo GTI, Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 [GTi] – even Toyota is doing one,” he said, referring to the Yaris GRMN that isn’t coming to Australia.
“There’s a good market,” he added.
It makes sense for the little i20 to be the N division’s next project, considering the second-generation hatchback – which isn’t sold in Australia – forms the basis of the company’s WRC race car (pictured), motivated by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine developing a whopping 284kW of power.
Reports suggest the i20 N would be powered by a version of the company’s 1.6-litre turbocharged four, which already serves in sporty versions of the Elantra, i30 and Veloster, feeding drive to the front wheels – with the option of a electronic limited-slip front differential.
UK title Auto Express speculates the engine will be tuned to “about 200 horsepower (150kW)”, a number already achieved by the Elantra SR Turbo, i30 SR, and Veloster SR.
In Europe, Hyundai already offers the i20 Sport (above), featuring an 88kW/172Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, offered solely with a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive.
Australia doesn’t get the second-generation i20 available in markets like Europe, however, as the local arm couldn’t source the new light hatch at a reasonable price – instead, the Accent replaced the previous i20 as the Korean brand’s entry-level model.
Most recently, following the reveal of the i20 Sport, Hyundai Australia’s public relations manager, Guido Schenken, told CarAdvice: “The European i20 is always under evaluation for Australia, but with the current business climate it doesn’t work for us”.
We’ve contacted the local arm again to see what kind of prospects an i20 N would have in Australia, and we’ll update once we get a response. Stay tuned.