i20 N Line: Real hot hatch or just a cosmetic update?

The i20 N Line is one of the latest offerings by Hyundai in the Indian market, the i20 has now added the N line to its name which makes one curious about the addition. Let us first shed some light on what ‘N’ is?  Hyundai’s ‘N’ division, is a performance brand similar to BMW’s ‘M’ and Mercedes-AMG. Benz’s. The letter ‘N’ stands for Namyang, Hyundai’s headquarters in South Korea, where the automobile is designed, and Nurburgring, the race track where the business develops and fine-tunes these cars, according to the company.

Hyundai offers full-blown N vehicles with bigger powertrains, entirely redone suspension systems, and other race modifications for nearly every area such as the steering, gearbox, brakes, and differential under the N name. The N Line, which includes the model we have, consists mostly of cars with sportier design enhancements, as well as some minor performance upgrades to areas like the brakes and suspension. The i20 N Line is offered in 2 trims; N6 and N8 with 6-speed iMT and 7-speed DCT. The DCT is not offered with the entry-level N6 trim. 

The i20 N Line differentiates itself with the design; changes are most noticeable up front, with a sharp face and a dual-tone bumper with a front splitter. The grille has been revised with a chequered flag-inspired design. There’s also a beautiful N Line badge, and the red inserts at the bottom of the bumper add to the very aggressive appearance. Coming to the car’s side profile, it continues with the bottom red inserts from the front bumper following the skirting of the car and complimenting that red treatment. The brake calipers are also painted hot red. Meanwhile, taking a look at the side profile you will notice rear disk brakes which the regular i20 misses. Besides the red inserts, the car gets multi-spoke diamond-cut alloy wheels different from the regular i20. At the rear of the car, you get a sportier-looking bumper with a charming diffuser sort of a treatment and a twin tip muffler marking its presence and purpose.

The cabin of the N Line is a good place to be in where you have an all-black interior with red sporty inserts everywhere, the three-spoke N Line badged Steering wheel with devil horn paddle shifters which makes justice to the addition in name and the N badged gear knob wrapped in leather feels premium. Other than this, you get red-coloured ambient light and metallic treatment to the accelerator and brake pedals. The car gets all the other features as the regular i20 gets, like the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Bose sound system, digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, cruise control, automatic climate control and sunroof. Not to be mistaken here, we are talking about the N8 DCT and comparing it to the Asta(O).  

Let’s talk business now. Is the N Line sporty or is it just manipulating us with its looks?

Powering the N Line is the 1.0L 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine producing 120 horses and 172 NM of torque mated to a 7-speed DCT or a 6-speed iMT gearbox. It is the same engine that does duty on the regular i20 turbo, venue turbo and Verna turbo. But the car does not feel like any of the siblings mentioned above. Fire it up and you will hear a sweet bassy sound from the twin tip muffler which is not as loud as you would expect but does the job pretty well. When you slot it in drive (D) and start driving, the engine feels numb lower down but post 2000 rpm the motor gets going. The 172 NM of torque is delivered very linearly. Stick it in Sports (S) and the engine will aggressively take manual control of things. Just tap on the paddle or use the Tiptronic function but the car won’t hold on to a gear no matter what. The DCT is a joy to use but it does not feel better than a Volkswagen dual-clutch transmission. Approach a corner aggressively and you’ll notice that the car has a completely different feel compared to its twin. The steering response, the quickness in directional change and the 30% stiffness suspension is very noticeable. It no longer gives the slightly bouncy feel of the standard i20. And even after all these tweaks, the comfort of the car isn’t compromised at all and the N Line maintains a good balance between ride and handling.  

The N Line is a decent car in terms of handling and features but a more powerful train and manual gearbox would have made this car a jetpack joyride. And the 14 lakh rupee price tag makes it an expensive hatch. Nevertheless, it is one of the best offerings by Hyundai India and gets every feature that a hatchback can get.

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Aachit Chugh

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