You may have already read elsewhere some fairly breathless reviews of the new Hyundai i20 N. And if you have, you would be forgiven for concluding that it was the hot hatchback equivalent of the second coming. But what would the reviewers make of it if they, like me, had not just flung this little 201-horsepower shopping car along B-roads and around the track, but actually lived with it for a week?
You know what? They’d still love it. As Ford discovered with the Fiesta ST many moons ago, if you take a light, compact and fundamentally well engineered hatchback, give it some shove and put some capable chassis engineers on the case, great things can result. And this is precisely what Hyundai has achieved. A strong motor, a stiffened structure, firmer suspension and an electromechanical front differential is all you need to turn a worthy runabout into a terrifically fun small performance car. And the youngsters at whom it’s aimed will love the mind-boggling amount of engine, chassis and stability system configurability it offers.
Yes, this middle-aged man would rather have more plush suspension, a taller sixth gear and a less raucous engine note, but that says as much about me as the car. I’d still prefer the Fiesta which has a more characterful engine and I’d judge would be gentler over a distance, but there really is little in it. It is a car of which its creators should be proud.