If you have a World Rally Championship star on your team it’s as well to put him to good use. Hyundai has no problem with that, as these new shots and videos of Thierry Neuville having a play in the snow with the all-new i20 N testify.
Before you get too excited, the coming new rival for cars like the Ford Fiesta ST is not the one in the video with the big rear wing and all the lights. That’s Thierry’s i20 WRC rally weapon, the car that gave him (another!) runner-up title in the 2019 WRC, but, more important for the team he has driven for since 2014, gave Hyundai its first manufacturers’ title.
Aficionados will also spot a third car in the video – Hyundai Motorsport’s RM19 mid-engined test prototype. The point of putting them all together, bit confusing though it is, is to convince us of the connection between Hyundai Motorsport and the brand’s high performance road cars sold under the N badge. Both the i20 WRC and RM19 have inspired the all-new i20 N, says Hyundai.
True enough, the firm’s N cars have a growing reputation for sporting prowess and the i20 N will be out to seal that. When it arrives, probably next year, it will join Hyundai’s first N model, the Golf GTI-rivalling i30N, as the new junior member of the N family. The newcomer is based around the i20 five-door hatch, the more sharply styled version of which was meant to be going on sale around now.
We can speculate the i20 N will be aiming for Fiesta ST level performance – 200bhp, 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds – but so far Hyundai has confirmed no details of the car’s specification. The pictures of the camouflaged car show it to be lower than standard, on distinctive alloy wheels, have a suggestion of aero mods, and, true to N form, sport the brand’s signature grey paintwork.
All Hyundai is confirming is that it will be “racetrack capable”. That’s something Thierry Neuville seems to agree with, on the basis of his thrash on the snow and ice in that new-car test and development playground of Arjeplog, Sweden.
Thierry tells us the i20 N is “a very interesting car. Very precise. Very easy handling. The engine is revving nicely and the noise is very interesting as well. I’m looking forward to get this one to drive in WRC!”
You never know, this might be the car to give Thierry – five times WRC runner-up now – his first championship title!