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For better or worse, compact hot hatches have never been hugely popular in the U.S.. When the Ford Fiesta ST left us in 2015, it was the last gasp for the category on our shores. Even the introduction of the GR Yaris couldn’t reignite the micro-hatch, instead inspiring the GR Corolla. And now we can add another to the list of hot hatches not in America with the Hyundai i20 N.

The Hyundai i20 N slots in below the defunct Veloster N

Even Hyundai’s Veloster N didn’t catch fire quickly enough to remain in American showrooms, so there was little chance that we’d ever get the smaller i20 N. That’s a real shame, as the smallest Hyundai hot hatch is primed to deliver raucous performance on the wide-ranging American landscape.

Powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged powerplant, the little i20 N chucks out 204 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. Critically, Road and Track found the tiny hatch weighs just 2,600 pounds – nearly 1,000 less than a Golf GTI.

As such, the i20 N takes just 6.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. Furthermore, the aggressive suspension setup and short wheelbase let you throw it into a corner with an unsettling level of enthusiasm. That said, those factors also contribute to a harsh ride, something that makes it a liability on the streets of Boston and the like.

However, the limited-slip differential lets you mash the throttle on corner exit and immediately forget that it chattered your teeth on that last pothole. As the system works out the torque delivery and reduces understeer, you can’t help but grin from ear to ear.

Turbocharged, lightweight, and sharp, the i20 N is a revelation, making it all the more disappointing that it’s yet another hot hatch we don’t get in America.

The Hyundai i20 N, a stunning hot hatch we don't get in America
Hyundai i20 N | Hyundai

The Hyundai i20 N joins a long list of fun cars we can’t have

The i20 N is just the latest on a long list of great cars we can’t get here in the U.S. In addition to the Fiesta ST and GR Yaris, we also miss out on the Volkswagen Polo GTI, BMW M135i, and Audi S1. That’s not even including the French models from Peugeot and Renault, and the upcoming Alpine A290 EV.

It’s part of our unfortunate reality that small cars just don’t do well in an era where bigger and better seems to be the prevailing wind. Even a switch to EVs has ushered in a movement of larger, high-powered premium vehicles with little in the way of affordable, practical options. Worse yet, the best-value Chevy Bolt is dead after this year too. That leaves the Nissan Leaf as the most affordable EV going forward.

Will small cars make a comeback?

The 2022 Hyundai i20 N hot hatch
Hyundai i20 N | Hyundai

Right now, it seems as though small cars are getting fewer and farther between. However, an ongoing recession, concerns about both fuel costs and EV battery materials, and a focus on efficiency as a whole may see the return of small cars in the coming years. That may crack open the door for something like the Hyundai i20 N to make it to America over the next decade – but by then it’ll be an EV rather than the crackling four-cyilnder turbo it is today.

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