Hyundai’s i20 N is a riot, a punchy little zinger of a car that will have you grinning from ear to ear as you pinball it down a winding road. It’s also forbidden fruit: America’s enduring aversion to small hot hatches means we won’t see the i20 N stateside. And that is a shame, because the i20 N is Hyundai’s best driver’s car. For now.
Driving the i20 N brought back memories of my first drive of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. It happened back in 2007 in an off-the-record session with the then-secret two-door at Hyundai’s Namyang R&D Center in Korea. The handling track itself wasn’t great, but the car impressed. As a first stab at an affordable, sporty, rear-drive coupe, it was a solid effort.
I referenced BMW’s 3 Series a lot in my post-drive debrief with the Hyundai engineers. BMW has fallen from grace in recent years, but back then the 3 was a benchmark for powertrain response, chassis balance, and steering feel, and I wanted Hyundai to aim high.
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