Updated On: 9 September 2021 Yatharth Chauhan
Hot hatchback (or simply, hot hatch) is a sub-segment that has been quite popular in Europe right from the 1970s. The same, though, cant really be said in the local context as many carmakers have tried to catch the fancy of the driving enthusiasts with hotter versions of regular hatchbacks and have burnt their fingers with a rather lacklustre response. No wonder, then, that models like the Maruti Baleno RS, Fiat Punto Abarth and even Tata Tiago JTP were pulled off the shelves within some time of their launch. The dismal sales performance of these, however, hasnt kept Hyundai Motor India Ltd from launching its first performance-focused offering, the i20 N-Line. Our 2021 Hyundai i20 N-Line test drive review here should help you find out if the hotter i20 is the go-to hatchback youve been waiting for.
Based on the third-gen i20, Hyundai's first performance-focused model for our market features a set of new soft parts that help one easily distinguish between the new model and the donor car. Upfront, there's a sportier bumper that carries a well-pronounced diffuser with a bold red accent on the lip. The grille has a chequered flag pattern and carries an 'N-Line' badge. The side profile carries even fewer changes with the only differentiating bits here being the red accents on the side skirts and bespoke 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels brought in especially for the sporty trim.
In a similar fashion, the rear-end carries an updated bumper with, you guessed it, a red accent. There's also a bigger roof spoiler, an extra set of badges and a chrome-plated dual-tip exhaust tip. The colour palette for the new model carries 4 single-tone and 2 dual-tone options - Thunder Blue, Fiery Red, Titan Grey, Polar White, Thunder Blue with phantom Black Roof, and Fiery Red with Phantom Black roof.
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Staying true to the exterior, the cabin has adopted a sporty visual theme with red accents strewn across the all-black cabin. A major highlight here is the stylish new steering wheel that's exclusive to the N-Line trim. Other visual updates come in the form of new upholstery, N-branded floor mats, sports pedals, and a new gear lever with N-Line branding.
The equipment list of the top-spec N8(O) variant is near-identical to that of the Asta(O) version of the regular car. It includes bits like a responsive 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment unit that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, BOSE audio components, cruise control, wireless smartphone charger, automatic climate control, ambient lighting and voice recognition support.
The safety features on offer include six airbags, reverse park assist with sensors and camera, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, tyre pressure monitoring system and hill assist control. Worth a mention here is that even the base-level N6 trim is quite feature-laden and offers the 16-inch diamond-cut mags along with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit and disc brakes on all fours.
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Not to be confused with the 1.6-litre turbo-equipped Hyundai i20 N Performance that's sold abroad, the India-spec i20 N Line gets a similar visual makeover but makes do with the 1.0-litre turbocharged mill from the regular version. Thankfully, however, the suspension has been thoroughly upgraded while the exhaust system has been re-worked.
The 1.0-litre GDI turbo-petrol unit continues to output a maximum of 120PS and 172Nm. Even the transmission options have been carried over, which means you get to choose between a 7-speed DCT and a 6-speed IMT. If the carmaker is to be believed, the suspension has been made 30% stiffer but more on that later. Thumb the starter and you'll be greeted by a slightly rorty sound note. Clearly, the carmaker has tried to offer a good aural experience but the regulations have kept things from getting too loud.
Step on the gas and the N-Line gains speed pretty rapidly. The turbo-lag is pretty much conspicuous by its absence and the quick-shifting transmission ensures you easily stay in the powerband. High-speed overtakes nary require planning and the good torque spread, coupled with well-time shifts, make this car a hoot to drive. Moreover, the large steering-mounted paddle shifts come in handy in case you wish to override the electronics. The iMT, though, isn't as fun simply due to some notchiness, especially when shifting from 2nd to the 3rd cog. Among the two, we would pick the DCT with eyes closed but would have preferred a conventional manual transmission over the iMT.
While the engine and transmission have been carried over from the regular version without any sort of tinkering, it's the revised suspension that's responsible for enabling the i20 N-Line to become a lot more exciting than the regular version. Throw the car hard into a corner and it sticks to the line much better. The car's also more planted at high speed while the steering has been updated to offer more heft. It also feels a tad more precise.
Compared to the regular version, the N-Line is a sharper corner-carver and the improved dynamics certainly make it a lot more fun. However, all of this comes at the cost of ride comfort. While the donor model has been one of the more comfortable cars in the market, the N-Line version has a stiff ride at all speeds. Finally, even the braking package has received a significant update in the form of disc rotors at rear. With disc brakes on all four wheels, the i20 N-Line can shed some serious speeds very quickly. The only chink in the armour here is the slightly spongy feel that the brakes have.
With prices ranging from Rs 9.84 lakh to Rs 11.90 lakh, ex-showroom, the 2021 Hyundai i20 N-Line is a pretty expensive proposition. However, much of this has to do with the rather high price tag of the donor model. For a little over a lakh more, the N-Line brings into the mix a sportier suspension, recalibrated steering wheel, and several visual add-ons that work in tandem with the mechanical bits to complete the sporty persona. Add to this the traditional strengths like a well-built and spacious cabin, modern design, and a world-class engine, and the i20 N-Line comes across as a great option for those looking for a well-priced hatchback that's as good around the corners as it is with ferrying kids to the school.
So how do you like our 2021 Hyundai i20 N-Line review? Do tell us in the comment sections below. Also, make sure you are a member of our 91Wheels Whatsapp group where we bring you all the latest updates related to the Indian Automotive Industry.
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