Why would I buy it?
- Cosmetic add-ons bring in exclusivity
- Not very expensive than the regular model
Why would I avoid it?
- Not a true-blue performance-focused model
- Rear passengers’ comfort
Hyundai's N Line models are offered only in select markets across the world. Hence, the introduction of the i20 N Line in our market is significant. More so, as it's the first time ever that such a vehicle will make it to the Indian roads. All N Line cars come as 'performance-oriented' versions of regular cars and are not full-blown performance versions like the N cars. That said, these pack in all the goodies from the standard road-going version along with features to stand out. This indeed is a great idea to tap into the potential new-age millennial and Gen Z buyers. They add to a sizable chunk of sales and would prefer a distinct model to stand out. The i20 N Line then, we believe, is a good proposition to do that and give a taste of Hyundai's 'N' brand before it hopefully gets proper go-faster N cars.
Engine and performance
As mentioned earlier, this is an 'N Line' and not an 'N' car. Hence, it was unlikely to get any major change in terms of performance compared to its regular sibling. So, don't be surprised that there's no power boost on this Hyundai i20 turbo. Nonetheless, this one continues to draw power from a 1.0-litre T-GDi petrol engine that puts out 118bhp and 172Nm of torque. This powerplant can be had with a six-speed iMT unit or a seven-speed DCT gearbox. The latter is what we're driving.
This is a refined engine and quite silent, except for the fact that it now gets a sportier exhaust note given its sporty credentials. And that's the only difference. Otherwise, it's the same 1.0-litre unit as seen in its elder sibling, the Verna Turbo. Slot the gear-lever into drive mode and it does take a second before it sets off. And even though you mash the throttle, it won't pin you back into the seats. That said, Hyundai is still claiming a sub-10 second 0-100kmph sprint time with it. And frankly, 9.9 seconds isn't the fastest in the segment. Yet, it’s still on par, especially with the VW Polo's TSI pulling off the same sprint in 9.13 seconds. Then, 172Nm of torque is available right from 1,500rpm making city speeds navigation a stress-free affair. You can easily do 60kmph in sixth gear at 1,500rpm and 80kmph in seventh gear at around 1,700rpm.
Even out on the highway, this engine is quite capable without having to rev till redline at 6,500rpm. And though it can do that whether you're in 'D' or 'S', the engine doesn't get noisy when you floor the gas pedal. The gearbox responds to throttle inputs well and never finds itself wondering which gear to be in. Should you still want to take control, there are paddle shifters adding to the fun. Overtaking any vehicle doesn’t feel cumbersome ever. Mostly you'd be easily cruising at triple-digit speeds in the top gear at low revs (100kmph at 2,100rpm and 120kmph at 2,600rpm). So, it goes without saying that an engine free from stress will also return good fuel efficiency, right? Well, yes it proves that with the ARAI-claimed figures of 20.25kmpl for this DCT and 20kmpl for the iMT.
Ride and handling
The i20 N Line might not be a performance-packed hot hatch that some of us expected it to be. But, it gets a couple of functional changes for a more spirited driving experience. As you might have got an idea, it's not a riot to drive, but still keeps you engaged. Starting with its ride, the low-speed ride continues to be stiff and now with Hyundai tuning the damping force by 30 per cent, the ride gets even firmer. However, on the positive side, its road-holding capacity has increased and it stays pretty planted without too much up and down movement. It feels even more stable at high speeds. It's still no corner-carver and will understeer if you go too fast around a sharp bend. Another drawback is that the rear passengers will not be too comfortable with jerks from the suspension. Yet, ground clearance isn't a major concern as we managed to clear all speed-breakers and potholes on the way without any hassle.
Now on to the handling bit, there's an apparent heft to the steering that can be felt. It doesn't feel as light or vague at the centre as the one on the standard one felt like. Still, it continues to have two-and-a-half turns lock-to-lock making it quick to manoeuvre and park. It weighs up as you dial up on speed and thankfully doesn't feel very artificial. Now, the all-around disc brakes pump in more confidence when one drops the anchor. We shall soon tell you how much difference it makes in our braking tests when we get the car for a proper road test review.
Interior Space and Comfort
Inside, the i20 N Line has an all-black interior which might not be as inviting as cars with a lighter interior feel. Still, I'd say it’s one less worry in its upkeep. And reasonably so, as you wouldn't hesitate to spend a lot of time in this comfortable and spacious cabin. It gets the same interior as the standard i20 with good quality fit and finish. Now things have been livened up with red accents and red ambient lighting instead of blue. Then, a chequered flag design for the leather seats, a new gear knob, and a three-spoke steering wheel, all with an N logo add up to the visual appeal. Otherwise, there are no major changes in the design, layout, space, and comfy seats. It remains to be the same as the standard i20 which we have detailed in our previous review here.
Features and Equipment
Now, the i20 has always been known for having a feature-packed cabin and nothing has been skimped in the Hyundai i20 N Line. In fact, its top-spec N8 version boasts of a few additional updates apart from all the bells and whistles offered. For example, Hyundai is offering the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with BlueLink suit for connected technology and 16 OTA map updates for eight years. Then, there are new voice commands for the sunroof, location finding, and even driver window control. What's more, the usual noteworthy features that are carried over include a Bose sound system, TFT digital display, automatic headlamps, TPMS, wireless charger with a cooling pad, push-button stop/start, cruise control, and many more.
Lest we forget, the hatchback also gets cosmetic exterior tweaks like a chequered flag-inspired front grille with N Line logo, rear spoiler with wings, red brake callipers, 16-inch alloy wheels, and red inserts. All of it helps give the car a noticeable individuality. In terms of safety too, the hot-hatchback comes equipped with six airbags, all four disc brakes, ABS, EBD, hill assist control, vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, etc. Furthermore, the carmaker is offering this N Line with a warranty of up to five years, with three-year roadside assistance, and then the BlueLink subscription for three years.
Hyundai has taken this bold step of experimenting rather than just sticking to what they’re selling. Hopefully, this should kick-start the segment of hot hatches even if this N Line is more about cosmetic changes. This does instil a hope that Hyundai might bring in their performance range of cars too. Now, for the i20 N Line, you get cosmetic add-ons to make a style statement and boast a unique car. In terms of performance, there's not really a big upgrade, but this turbo-petrol is one of the most powerful in the segment. Then, these automatics continue to add to the convenience of a car that is fun-to-drive, feature-packed, and is a well-packaged premium hatchback. In terms of ex-showroom pricing, it's close to a lakh more than the standard i20 iMT and just about Rs 50,000 more than the DCT i20 Asta. It’s quite a promising option for an i20 buyer – shell out that premium and get a more unique i20 then!
Pictures by Kapil Angane