Hyundai is taking the fight to Volkswagen with their new model offensive

• Hyundai revealed its all-new i20 N.

• Hyundai's N division is far newer than Volkswagen's established GTI.

• The i20 N will challenge the Volkswagen Polo GTI.

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Rewind 10 or even 20 years ago, and no one even really knew who Hyundai was. It's in human nature to stick to something that is tried and tested, and in this case, was the likes of Volkswagen and Toyota. 

It was in 2013 when things changed in a big way for Hyundai and Korean automotion in general. German automobile designer Peter Schreyer, who previously worked for Volkswagen and most notably Kia, played a big part in how these brand's vehicle appear now.

Besides the design changes, Hyundai had a vehicle for most of the segments available while also aided with their famous seven-year/200 000km warranty.


Would you like to see the full range of N models make its way to SA? Email us.

Hyundai i20 N

All-new Hyundai i20 N (NewsPress)

Lagging in performance

While they built their reputation on producing passenger cars, sedans and SUVs, they severely lagged in one area and that was a performance car.

They dipped their feet in unchartered waters with the Elantra Sport which pushed out 150kW and 275Nm from a turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC engine. One also can't forget the Tucson. Definitely on par with the GTI in power but the problem was the body shape.

Sadly, sedans are a slowly dying breed in South Africa, and a young person wanting a bit of speed won't consider a sedan or SUV as an option. The next best thing is to try a different brand that ticks the need for speed boxes. This is where the GTI is a sure-fire winner.

READ: Hyundai expands 'N' offering with all-new i20 N - And it means business

It seems like the koki's used on the drawing board working overtime since then as there would be no performance offering - but that all changed when the i30N was launched for the first time in 2017 at the Frankfurt International Motor Show.

You see, the GTI is held in such high regard locally and a benchmark on which most performance hatchbacks are measured, that petrol heads already started sizing the two up.

Hyundai i20 N

All-new Hyundai i20 N (NewsPress)

1, 2 Hyundai's coming for you

The I30 N sports a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 202kW and 353Nm, sending power to the front axle via a six-speed manual gearbox. On paper, it trumps the 7.5 GTI with 169kW even with the advantage of DSG. Volkswagen fans will argue that the I30 N should be compared to the R, but with vastly different drivetrains, there is only one winner there.

While the I30 N provides competition for the GTI, Hyundai didn't have a baby brother to compare against another one of VW's 'softer' hot hatches. The Polo GTI kicks out 147kW, also using a 2.0-litre engine and six-speed DSG transmission.

READ: Hyundai's Golf GTI-killer is finally here! The limited i30N touches down on local soil

In somewhat of a direct response, Hyundai countered by teasing the motoring public with images of an all-new I20 N. Inspired by the WRC rally car, it will make use of 1.6-litre turbo GDi engine with 150kW and 275Nm of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission.

Those figures far outshine the local version of the 'I20 N'. It features mainly aesthetic upgrades like 17-inch alloys, side skirts, front and rear bumper, as well as a rear spoiler. Performance-wise, it only made 85kW. Not at all fitting on an N model. In other markets, Hyundai already has the Veloster, I10, Elantra, Tucson and Kona sporting the N insignia. If that is not making a statement, then I don't know what is.

At a time when Volkswagen's GTI models had nothing to fear, now all of a sudden there are pretenders to the crown with serious credentials.

2020 hyundai i30 N

2020 Hyundai i30 N (QuickPic)

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