Mat L purchased this Hyundai i20 new with additional options for $37,500 (including all on-road costs). Mat L would buy this car again because: “Would definitely buy again if still available in a manual ICE drivetrain when it comes time for a new car in a few years. The car has easily met and in some cases exceeded expectations. Hyundai’s N division have proven themselves to be worthy.”
The i20 N has been very reliable after 10,000km, including one track day. Is it even an ‘N’ car if you haven’t attended at least one track day in the first 10,000km?
The track day is probably worth mentioning in a little more detail as this is where the car really shines and delivers what is claimed on the box. For an absolutely stock car to roll off the showroom floor and onto a track (don’t worry there was a lengthy run in period between the two) and run all day at a hot humid Winton Raceway and not miss a beat, was impressive.
It didn’t even cook the brake fluid as I thought it might. And at the end of the day, drove it home and it didn’t feel like a smoking pile of proverbial.
A slight knock has developed in the front left area from around 7000km, which is going to be looked at the first major service, but hasn’t affected the drivability of the car.
There are a few rattles within the door cards, but they have settled somewhat over the first 10,000km.
I have no regrets purchasing this car from the experience to date.
As a car guy, the main reason to buy a car is to have something that you look forward to getting behind the wheel every time. A car that you look back at as you walk away from it, much to the disdain of your wife/partner.
From when you approach it and admire its angular design details to when you jump inside and sit in the body hugging seats, to when you press that smile inducing ‘N’ button on the steering wheel; this car just makes you feel good.
Given there are so few i20Ns on the road in Australia it gives you a kind of cool sense that you are driving something unique, which is a bizarre thought to be having about a Hyundai hatchback.
It’s a nice feeling when you’ve got blokes in their track dedicated M3 BMW coming across to your pit garage for a closer look at what this new Hyundai is all about. It’s these little moments where you realise how far Hyundai have come.
With it being a Hyundai, it was much easier to get the purchase across the line with the minister for finance by framing it as “babe, it’s a sensible small Hyundai hatchback.” That line worked until I drove it into the garage for the first time and it was pretty evident that it wasn’t just a normal Hyundai. I think the first words I heard were “that’s louder than your old car!”, which I kind of took as bit of a badge of honour.
The way the design team at Hyundai have packaged this car is very well executed. You really do feel like you are in a bigger car thanks to this. One of the most impressive aspects of this became evident when we placed the rear facing child seat in the car, which are renowned for making front passenger’s knees becoming a semi-permanent fixture of the dashboard.
In the i20N you have ample knee room in the front with one of these installed. In fact, it performs better than my partners Corolla where front leg room is very compromised with a rear facing child seat installed.
Whilst on the subject of design, this little hatch really pushes the boundaries of automotive aesthetics in a very good way. The new angular design language from Hyundai is clearly apparent; with some of the chiseled details looking more like something you’d see on a Lamborghini. Is it a coincidence that Hyundai’s design boss, Luc Donckerwolke, penned the likes of the Murciélago?
Interior wise it’s a nice place to be. Sure there are some hard plastics used throughout the interior, but they are executed well with the introduction of various textures and I’ve never been one to see the need to fondle the dashboard or the door card material.
To round out the ownership experience, to have N Australia properly engaged with N owners and putting on drive days, track days and other events; it makes you feel you’re part of something a little bit more than just a car purchase.
I placed a deposit down sight unseen as I anticipated that it would be a car that would end up being highly sought after following the reviews coming out of Europe. That gamble paid off with the wait times blowing out to almost two years now and some price increases to boot.
It was a mix of excitement and anticipation the day I went to pick the car up, as it was the first time I had seen an i20N in the metal. This was the moment I realised, before even driving it, that this was shaping up to be a great purchase. It exceeded my expectations with not only the aesthetic but the quality and roominess of the interior space.
The car did arrive with a panel manufacturing defect which is currently the subject of a warranty claim and has still yet to be resolved after around seven months which is frustrating.
It might be a dealer-specific thing, but the servicing department has been very poor at returning phone calls in relation to the warranty claim and also to do something as simple as book in a service. Also it’s apparent that Hyundai service departments don’t appear to be that switched on with servicing requirements of the i20N, to the point where I’m having to supply my own oil as they were going to use the wrong spec.
This is where points have been deducted mostly as it takes the shine off the ownership experience a little.
To put it simply, blown away with the value of this car. The amount of features and technology that is packed into this small hot hatch is incredible. You really do have everything you could possibly need and then some; although some of the latest safety tech like Lane Keep Assist I have turned off as I’m not a fan of the steering wheel doing its own thing.
If there is one item that is missing it would be a HUD on the windscreen; my previous car had it and it was one of the top driver assist additions to the car.
I paid $37,500 with the optional black roof (before price increases in 2022), so the value is incredible. Even with the price increases, it still presents great value when you account for everything you get coupled with the performance and handling capabilities.
One thing Hyundai could improve is the quality of the artificial leather material they use. It really isn’t anything special and it wouldn’t be prohibitively more expensive for them to do so.
The i20N’s 1.6 Turbo four delivers plenty of punch with a nice meaty torque band. Plenty of power for punching out of some tight twisty corners in the hills.
Whilst on track, the chassis could easily handle another 20 to 30 odd kilowatts to give it a little more punch on longer straights, it is still plenty quick enough for the weekend warrior to get their motorsport fix. It makes sense though for the 150kW figure Hyundai’s N division has settled with to ensure that little brother doesn’t outshine big brother i30N too much.
There is a little bit of rev hang and you do get used to it and can mostly drive around it, but it is there and it seems to be more of a programming of the electronic throttle for emissions purposes as opposed to something like a heavy flywheel. But it really isn’t an issue once you have got used to the characteristics of the car.
Economy wise, this thing runs on fumes for day to day driving. I run it on 98 octane fuel and average probably 5.0L to 6.0L per 100km for my work commute. Sure, it drinks a bit when pushed but still very reasonable.
Coming from my previous car (VF II SSV Ute) I thought I’d really miss the sledgehammer 6.2 litre LS3 but the i20N has enough to give me my fix. Yes, it’s not as quick in a straight line, but it just makes up for it tenfold with it’s handling.
In comparison between the SSV and the i20N, if I’m getting up the i20N for a spirited drive through the hills, it returns equal to or better fuel figures than I used to get driving the LS3 sedately; can’t really complain about that. The SSV still takes the cake for stock exhaust note though.
A car at this price point that comes with a thing like onboard circuit timing just brings a smile to your face. Seriously, a little Hyundai has no business having this sort of feature, but I love that it does. Especially with the latest software update adding a tonne of Aussie circuits to the system.
Another cleverly executed piece of tech is the rev matching. I was a bit of a sceptic at first but it actually does make your down changes perfect every time; but it does feel like you’re cheating a little bit.
The tech really does give this car a good point of difference when comparing to potential other similar vehicles you may have on your shortlist, if the way the car looks and drives wasn’t enough for you.
As soon as I drove it out the dealership driveway when I picked the car up I noticed how firm the ride was, however you do get used to it and it doesn’t worry me at all given the intentions of the car. If you’re buying this car to be a supple daily driver, this is not the car for you. To buy this car knowing its intentions and then complain about the suspension being too hard, is a bit like ordering an ice cream and complaining it’s cold.
The handling straight out of the box is immense. You read all the reviews and then you drive it and you then realise what people are banging on about. This is a hoot to drive.
Turn in bite of the front end is phenomenal and then there’s the satisfying ability to be able to get on the power earlier than you think in a front driver without ending up, to steal a quote from Mark Skaife, “in the fence!”, thanks to the mechanical LSD.
It’s a very planted, neutral chassis, even when on track. At Winton, the only time I had the tail saying “how do you do” was going a bit hot into the braking area of T7 and even then it was easy to gather up.
Final thoughts… Five years ago, I honestly would not have caught myself saying I’d be purchasing a Hyundai let alone being so impressed by it that I’d write a review about it.
The i20N is a genuine motoring enthusiast car. I would say if you have one on order, try not to get your knickers in too much of a knot about the price increase and keep the order if you can.