Innovative tech is buried inside Hyundai’s i20 N powertrain

Baby N gains next-generation Continuously Variable Valve Duration system that adds grunt and aids efficiency

2022 Hyundai I 20 N Main Pic

So good was the Hyundai i20 N’s package at Performance Car of the Year 2022 that its turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine became somewhat overlooked. However, the four-pot is new and it isn’t the same unit found in other N Line products – the biggest clue being the extra 10Nm. Not only does the SmartStream-branded unit usurp the Gamma generation, it also features innovative valve technology.

For the i20 N the 1598cc powertrain also gains a bespoke turbo, intercooler, water pump system and a 350-bar high-pressure fuel injection rail. Total power outputs of the SmartStream unit come to 150kW between 5500 to 6000prm and 275Nm from 1750 to 4500rpm. In overboost conditions the i20 N produces 304Nm (2000 to 4000rpm).

Yet, it’s the Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) system that is of note. The technology supposedly enables high performance with light car fuel economy.

E Dewar 220203 PCOTY 2022 Hyundai I 20 N 3

Variable valves aren’t new, we’ve all heard the VTEC punchlines, but CVVD works by opening the intake valve during the middle and end of the compression stroke to reduce resistance under light load. Conversely, under heavy throttle applications, the intake valve closes as the start of the compression stroke, taking advantage of the air available and improving performance.

The system is continuously variable, meaning it can be optimised to work in any part of the rev range instead of just chosen points (for example, up high for VTEC applications).

According to Hyundai, “the valve control technology regulates the duration of valve opening and closing according to driving conditions, achieving a 4 per cent boost in performance and a 5 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency ... CVVD takes [valve] technology in a new direction by adjusting how long the valve is open”.

So while the i20 N’s engine failed to rouse the judges as much as its engaging dynamics, the 1.6-litre unit is still noteworthy. The baby N really is a sum of its parts.

Trent Giunco
Ellen Dewar


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