Designed for South Africa, Hyundai’s first N-badged model is a warm hatch at best

Hyundai is giving us a preview of its upcoming N sub-brand with a sport-focused version of the i20, a small hatchback sold in a handful of overseas markets.

In its most powerful configuration, the i20 N is powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 113 horsepower — about 15 more than the stock model — and 118 pound-feet of torque. That’s not a lot, especially considering that the similarly-sized Volkswagen Polo GTI packs a 189-hp punch. All told, the i20 N is a warm hatch at best.

The four-cylinder sends power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Performance specifications have not been announced yet.

The i20 N looks a lot more aggressive than it really is thanks to visual add-ons like a full body kit that includes deeper bumpers on both ends, side skirts, and a roof-mounted spoiler. 17-inch alloy wheels add a finishing touch to the sporty look, and the i20 N rides lower than its stock counterpart thanks to a new suspension system designed to improve handling and lower the center of gravity.

Hyundai has not published pictures of the interior, so whether the track-inspired treatment continues in the cockpit is anyone’s guess at this point.

For the time being, the Hyundai i20 N has only been announced for the South African market, where it carries a base price of approximately $18,000. If it’s given the green light for the European market it will most likely be shown shortly at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but don’t expect to see it land on our shores any time soon.

However, Hyundai has previously confirmed that N will become a full-blown performance-oriented sub-brand. U.S.-bound N-badged cars will be launched in the coming years, and the South Korean car maker is expected to add at least one crossover to the lineup.

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