Cars - Hyundai

Road tests and reviews of the latest Hyundai models available in South Africa

2016 Hyundai i20 N-Sport

By Franky Johnson

The i20 N Sport is a sporty version of the i20 hatchback, and will now carry the performance N-logo. For those who are not aware of it, the Hyundai N is the newly introduced "performance brand" from Hyundai.

The appearance of the new i20 is emphasised by its long hood, low roofline and sharp crease line that combine to achieve a streamlined vehicle with an aerodynamic drag figure of 0,34 Cd.

A number of visual enhancements has been added to the i20 to create the new i20 1.4 N-Series. These include 17-inch alloy rims with the graphite finish, new headlamps, large air intakes with integrated DRLs to enhance the sporty appeal, a Sport Body kit, a stainless steel free-flow CAT back exhaust system and N-badges on the front mudguards and rear hatchback door.

The Sport Body kit consists of side skirts, front and rear bumper trim finishes to carry through the sporty line from the side skirts, bumper trims, and a rear boot spoiler.

Other new features include automatic folding door mirrors and smartphone docking integration. USB and auxiliary connectivity is fitted as standard with an audio system, along with a Bluetooth hands free phone function and the ability to stream music over the sound system with Bluetooth from a cell phone or music player.

On the inside all key surfaces are colour coded to provide a connected and premium feel for the interior space. The Thermal Plastic Olefin soft-to-the-touch material as used on the dashboard and door trims is highly durable, and the cloth upholstery is attractive and appears to be hard wearing.

As in the standard i20 Hyundai have used their “functional clustering” of the key technologies, grouping together instrumentation such as the audio, heating and ventilation, and powered window systems, to yield a cleaner cabin visual.

Standard features include electric power steering, air-conditioning, radio/ CD with MP3 playing through 4 speakers and two tweeters, remote central locking, fold-in exterior mirrors, mini on-board-computer giving average and instant fuel consumption, distance to empty, and elapsed time, while the multi-function steering wheel houses the controls for the audio and Bluetooth connectivity.

Oddments storage is provided for in the smallish cubby, large cup holders in the centre console, 1.5-litre bottle holders in the front doors, 1-litre bottle holders in the rear doors, as well as a centre console box, and the driver has a roof-mounted sunglasses holder.

The front bucket seats are comfortable and fully adjustable, while the rear bench seat has three seat belts it’ really only comfortable for two adults and maybe be a young child. The boot at around 300 litres is very spacious for a hatch.

The Sport N is fitted with stiffer springs which not only gives the i20 1.4 Sport a lower stance on the road, but the suspension tweak also provides a firmer ride, sportier handling and road holding to the package. The free-flow exhaust system also adds an audible announcement of the added engine power.

Under the bonnet, the new i20 N is powered by the Kappa 1,4 litre engine from the i20 1.4 Fluid manual and 1.4 Fluid automatic, which in its standard version delivers maximum power of 74 kW at 6 000 rpm and maximum torque output of 133 Nm at 3 500 rpm. For the 120 1.4 Sport N-Sport package the engine has been tweaked to produce 85 kW and 160 Nm of torque, and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox which sends the power to the front wheels.

To make it more powerful and enhance the performance of the car, the powertrain is equipped with the back exhaust system and to keep the power more on the ground, the new vehicle’s suspension setup is also tweaked to be firmer with stiffer coils which has lowered its centre of gravity all of which contributes to better road holding.

Safety equipment is quite comprehensive and includes driver and front passenger airbags, with front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and a lap belt for the middle passenger in the rear, while the height-adjustable head restraints provide protection against whiplash.

In the stopping department the i20 sport is fitted with ventilated disc brakes at the front wheels, solid disc brakes at the rear, aided by a 4-wheel electronic 4-channel ABS system and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

While the performance of the Hyundai i20 N Sport is good, it’s still not quite in the Hot Hatch category. However, it never-the-less performs very well and is enjoyable to drive.

In acceleration tests it did the 0 to 100 km/h dash is 8.9 seconds, and has a top speed of just over 190 km/h. On the freeway travelling at a steady 120 km/h in 6th gear, the rev counter registers a relaxed 3 100 rpm, while average petrol consumption of the week I had the car was a reasonable 8.3 litres per 100 km which is pretty good as the car is so sporty to drive. Nice too, is the sound from the exhaust when the driver floors the accelerator pedal and a window is open. The sound tends to invite you to use the power and most times you will.

On the road the new i20 is very well refined – it’s quiet and relaxed on the freeways, and even at 120 km/h there's minimal road or engine noise. The new improved suspension works well, and the i20 handles the corners with plenty of front end grip and reassuring stability, while the electric power-steering does a good job in helping pilot the car around a series of fast bends.

The new Hyundai i20 N-Sport is a pleasant car to live with. It easy to drive, easy to park a load of fun when you want it. The price is R265 900 which includes the Hyundai warranty and Roadside Assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km, and a service plan for 3 year or 60 000 km.

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