Hyundai hybrid hot hatch reports for WRC rallying duty

Hyundai’s performance-focused N division will attempt to climb back to the top spot of the World Rally Championship (WRC) podium with a new race car. Loosely related to the i20 N, the hatchback features a hybrid powertrain to comply with the new set of rallying regulations.

“We have welcomed the technical challenge of WRC’s new hybrid era. It promises to be a big step into the unknown for every team,” said Julien Moncet, the team’s deputy director, in a statement. Weight and reliability concerns were some of the hurdles that engineers needed to clear during development. Testing on a wide variety of surfaces started in May 2021, and the i20 N Rally1 is ready to go racing.

Power consequently comes from a plug-in hybrid powertrain built around a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The system’s total output hasn’t been published, but we know that the engine is essentially the same one that powered the last i20 N rally car and that the electric motor’s output is capped at 134 horsepower. The 3.9-kilowatt-hour battery pack is located in a sealed carbon fiber case and installed in the back of the car, close to the rear axle. This positioning works well from a safety standpoint and it helps with weight distribution.

Only a name and a vague silhouette link the Rally1-spec i20 N to the street-legal model that goes up against the Ford Fiesta ST in many global markets. The race car is much wider than its regular-production counterpart, and it receives the usual assortment of wings, scoops, and vents, including a pair of intakes positioned behind the rear side windows to channel cooling air to the battery pack.

Hyundai’s i20 N will make its rallying debut at the 2022 edition of the Monte-Carlo Rally, which starts January 17 and ends six days later. It will need to fend off competition from the small but mighty Toyota GR Yaris and the Ford Puma Rally1, which is based on a crossover. 

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