Engine / Transmission: 1.6 litre turbo – 6 speed manual
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.9L/100km combined
Price: From $34990… but they’re all sold out for the time being.
My first impressions of the little i20N is that it is an absolute peach, but due to what the big H call “overwhelming demand”, orders have been put on hold for the time being. No matter how good it is, you’re not going to be able to get one no matter how hard you try, but it shouldn’t be long before supply gets back to normal… I hope!
At least the break in supply allows a minute to get our ducks in a row and reevaluate what we really need from a car. Do we really need something the size of an ocean liner or can we compromise a little space and comfort for driving pleasure?
The little i20N presents a very compelling case as a runabout commuter – it’s easy to park, good on fuel and light enough on tyres and brakes as to not break the bank but I think cars like the i20N are going to have a renaissance of sorts as we all move to EVs for our daily transport needs. The i20N makes a hugely compelling case as an affordable and still practical weekend plaything, just itching at the bit for a weekend blast while sharing garage space with the boring EV that is used for the daily grind.
It is an enormously fun and hugely versatile little car that will have you questioning the need for anything bigger, including large families that might be able to park up the family’s big SUV and rely on a much smaller, more engaging and more efficient second car nearly all of the time.
The i20N gives you everything you need and not much that you don’t. A full safety package, including autonomous braking, speed sign recognition, really accurate traditional cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot warning. Large, configurable dash displays and infotainment systems provide a degree of unexpected luxury.
The i20N’s tech isn’t limited to just niceties such as a good infotainment display. Electronic rev match allows engine speed to automatically road speed so that your gear changes more like Barrichello and less like Bean. Drive modes are selectable from Normal, Eco, Sport, N and N Custom, allowing for changes to the throttle, stability control, exhaust volume and steering.
The i20N’s best trick is as a celebration of the joy of driving. This is a terrific little car that doesn’t need huge amounts of power to achieve greatness. In fact, part of its appeal is a lack of power. The i20N’s 150 kilowatts is just about perfect. With huge power comes weight that blunts the driving experience, massive tyres that rob road feel and enormous brakes the size of dinner plates that cost a fortune to repair.
Instead, the i20N makes do with just enough of everything to make driving fun again – just enough acceleration to be engaging without the risk of gaol and just enough cornering and braking prowess without the need to remortgage at tyre and brake time.
Not so impressive:
The least impressive aspects of the i20N are common to all sporty micro hatches – the back seat is tight, it rides too rough and the boot is tiny. What is has over fancier rivals, such as Toyota’s much more expensive Yaris GR and Volkswagen’s slightly more expensive Polo GTi is maximum grins for minimum dollars. In saying that, I would still love for it to be cheaper still. A stripped out i20N with a bare bones interior, a lack of fancy driving modes and bimodal exhaust, 17″ rims and basic infotainment screen coming in at $25k or so would be a dream. In fact, it’d be a sell out but seeing as the regular i20N is already sold out for the foreseeable future, don’t hold your breath for a cut price version any time soon.
On a test drive:
I would like to say swing by Ford and have a go at the slightly more expensive but truely exceptional Fiesta ST but the blue oval option has been discontinued in Australia. It’s a such a shame Ford has decided not to cherry pick from their very good European model range and instead focus on bulky SUVs and utes. I think it is short sighted. Soon, people will be relying on EVs to do the family running around while they patiently wait for the weekend when they can blast some carbon from an epic little sportster like the i20N. Give one a go. You won’t regret it.