Why I would buy it?
- Meaningful features added
- Marked improvement in handling
Why I would avoid it?
- Power output remains unchanged
- No manual option
Engine and Performance
The Hyundai i20 debuted with three engine options - 1.2-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel, and the brilliant 1.0-litre turbo petrol. Now, the N Line only gets the 1.0-litre turbo engine with exactly the same specs. So, you have 118bhp and 172 Nm of torque and two gearbox options to play with, a six-speed iMT and a seven-speed DCT.
Now, we have driven the 1.0-litre turbo variant extensively and can vouch for its performance. The acceleration is strong and thanks to the brilliant mid-range, it’s got fantastic tractability too. Making things more exciting in the N Line variant is the throatier exhaust note and more importantly the addition of paddle shifters that come with the DCT gearbox. This was sorely lacking and it’s great that Hyundai has added it here since it definitely enhances the driving experience. What would have made things more exciting for the N Line variants is a proper manual gearbox instead of the iMT. Also available now is a disc set-up at the rear which does add to the overall braking performance but we still wish it had a better initial bite.
Hyundai had got everyone excited the moment they announced the introduction of their N Line in India. Now, us enthusiasts, we were already having wet dreams about a near 200bhp hot-hatch with electronic trickery that would surpass the joys that were once given by the now-extinct Punto Abarth and the very expensive but awesome Polo GTi.
The unveil, however, left us a little disappointed. The engine specs remained unchanged from the standard i20 turbo but Hyundai did manage to sprinkle a little chaat masala to spice things up. But the question is, does it have enough to warrant the higher price tag? Or does it just make sense to buy the standard i20 Turbo which is cheaper and has the same engine specs?
Ride and Handling
Coming to the ride and handling, compared to the last-gen i20, Hyundai has done a stellar job with the new car. The N Line gets some further rework with a sportier set-up on the suspension. While it hasn’t made the car stiffer, it does feel a lot more planted in the corners. Its rolls are lesser too, which means quick direction changes are dismissed easily. Hyundai has worked on the steering too by adding a little weight which has resulted in a much better on-steering feel.
Overall, the minute changes in the N Line do provide a sportier driving experience. However, we can’t help wonder if Hyundai could have just done a little more by bumping up the power figures a bit with an ECU remap and perhaps made the car sit a little lower, which would have added to the sporty experience a whole lot more.
The standard i20 Turbo is a very sporty looking hatchback. So, starting at the front, you get WRC-inspired sporty highlights in the form of the chequered flag-inspired front grille. This front lip spoiler is on the standard car as well, but the N Line gets the red/grey highlights. On the sides, you get the new alloy wheels. No change in size, they’re still 16-inch but with a new design, which we found to be too busy. Apart from that, the highlights on the front lip spoiler make their way onto the side skirts as well. The front callipers also get the N Line treatment.
Moving on to the rear, the standard i20’s design was a bit polarising. But, the N Line Hyundai has fixed that a little. To add better proportions, you now get this new spoiler that extends down to the windscreen. And finally, the part we love the most, the off-set chrome dual exhaust tips which don’t just look the part but give the car a throatier exhaust note too. We think Hyundai has done a fair job to spice up the i20 Line.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
Moving to the inside, the all-black plasticky cabin remains the same but now get sportier touches. First up is this new bespoke three-spoke steering wheel with the N Line logo. The N branded leather gear knob is all-new too. The N logo makes its way onto the leatherette seats as well, which look and feel good. Additionally, you get N Line carpets and sporty metal pedals too. The red highlights that we see on the outside make it to the insides as well along with red ambient lighting.
In terms of features, the i20 N Line carries over all the equipment from the standard i20. It comes equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, cruise control, automatic climate control, a single-pane sunroof, seven-speaker Bose sound system, and much more.
The i20 N Line additionally gets new voice recognition functions along with an updated Bluelink app that features 16 free over-the-air map updates. Safety features include six airbags, TPMS, rear-view parking camera, automatic headlamps, electronic stability control (ESC), vehicle stability management (VSC), hill assist control (HAC), and more.
The Hyundai i20 was already an excellent premium hatchback offering stylish looks, space, plenty of features, and brilliant performance. With the N Line, Hyundai wants to satiate the needs of customers who want something a tad sportier. Price-wise, this N8 DCT variant is about Rs 35,000 more than the similarly specced Asta DCT option and you can add Rs 15,000 more for a dual-colour option, which makes it a good value considering the changes on offer.
But, as we mentioned before, the N Line raised a lot of expectations from the enthusiasts and we still think this was a good opportunity to make the i20 the hot-hatch that we enthusiasts have been yearning for. But I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer for that.
Pictures by Kapil Angane