Tested: Hyundai i20 Sport

The naughty hiss

Back in the old days, cars were so much simpler. If you wanted a faster ride, good old tuning and mechanical tinkering would help whereas nowadays you need a software degree and laptop. Now Hyundai South Africa has come up with something in between, a modern car with some sporty tuning.

The base for this project is the incredibly popular Hyundai i20 which received a refresh in 2015. Available with a 1.2-litre or 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, the latter was chosen as the power plant for the more exciting Sport model. Naughty Hyundais get the letter N attached to their name, but officially this is an i20 Sport.

In a nutshell, this car has mild performance and suspension enhancements with a few cosmetic additions, too. These aren’t over the top either as was evident from the moment our press car drove into my driveway. It doesn’t look too flashy and most of the items suit the i20’s modern proportions.

It doesn’t look too flashy…

To start with the visual stuff, you get a reasonably subtle body kit, a big exhaust tip and dark 17-inch alloys with so many spokes that you’ll consider hiring someone just to clean them. That bigger tail pipe is the result of a CAT-back, stainless steel, free-flow exhaust system – which also ups the 1.4’s volume a bit.

Before we get to the juicy bits, you should also know that this Sport model has revised suspension with stiffer springs and a lower ride height. Pair that to the 205/45R17 tyres (as opposed to the standard 195/55R16) and it’s easy to see that this i20 can dance through corners a little faster than its sisters.

Other than that, the running gear of this car is completely untouched and has the i20’s setup of front McPherson strut and rear torsion beam with coils. Steering is also the same engine-driven and power assisted unit, while the brakes are also regular i20 fare – front discs and rear drums with ABS and EBD.

Some differences in the spec sheet are a slightly beefier clutch, bigger spare wheel (full 17-inch) and 2cm less ground clearance at 130mm. The Kappa 1.4 MPI engine has unchanged bore and stroke (72×84), 10.5:1 compression, 16 valves with D-CVVT but something Hyundai calls “Stage 1 Performance Enhancement.”

They also chat about a “performance enhancing chip” which, together with the more liberal exhaust plumbing, pushes the engine’s maximum outputs of 74kW and 133Nm up to 85kW and 160Nm. Which brings me back to that word “Sport”, and finally, the way this i20 drives.

As mentioned before, the exhaust gives it a slightly louder beat which never gets boomy or intrusive while driving. Well, to most petrol heads it won’t be. The sportier sound continues all the way to the motor’s 6,500rpm redline and one tester noted that they could hear a pleasing hiss alongside any rev orgies.

Although we didn’t test the i20 Sport together with a regular 1.4 model, I can tell you that the tuned little motor hangs on the gas nicely, i.e. it responds to throttle inputs with vigour. Not masses of uncontrollable power, mind you, just vigour. To put it another way, it encourages you to put foot a bit more often.

That’s one thing I absolutely love about (luke-) warm hatches, there isn’t much speed to get into trouble but you can drill your right foot into the carpet more often; and for longer, thanks to a slick six-speed manual ‘box. Hyundai plays it safe by quoting the regular i20 1.4’s 0-100km/h time of 11.4 seconds and a top speed of 182km/h.

…worth the extra investment of N$21,000…

Considering the relatively small power increases (and bigger wheels) we were more than happy when our testing equipment spat out a respectable 0-100km/h time of 11.18 seconds at sea level. At an asking price of N$265,900, is that worth the extra investment of N$21,000 over the i20 1.4 Fluid Manual?

I certainly think it is. You get a lot of cosmetic and mechanical enhancements for that money and Hyundai warranties your car for seven years or 200,000km with a three-year/60,000km service plan thrown in as well. Here’s a mildly-tuned hatchback with a full factory warranty – what’s not to like?


0-10km/h: 0,53 seconds
0-20km/h: 1,12 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,69 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,56 seconds
0-50km/h: 3,84 seconds
0-60km/h: 5,02 seconds
0-70km/h: 6,17 seconds
0-80km/h: 7,45 seconds
0-90km/h: 9,31 seconds
0-100km/h: 11,18 seconds
0-110km/h: 13,19 seconds
0-120km/h: 15,58 seconds
0-130km/h: 19,21 seconds
0-140km/h: 23,28 seconds

0-100m: 7,58 seconds @ 80,90km/h
0-200m: 11,52 seconds @ 101,83km/h
0-300m: 14,81 seconds @ 117,09km/h
0-400m: 17,76 seconds @ 125,95km/h

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.53G

Altitude: 65m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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