Admittedly, this wasn’t the ideal week to be roadtesting a car built more for performance than fuel economy.

That said, Hyundai’s foresight in providing an ‘eco mode’ in its i20 N just about saved me from an embarrassing breakdown as I drove past five closed petrol stations then queued for 20 minutes at a sixth on Monday night.

In a week when preserving fuel has been imperative, it was a relief to discover this hot hatch had a dual personality and was capable of becoming becalmed.

Happily, there were also occasions when I got to see the car’s more sporty side - and there’s no doubt the designers have got the formula for fun spot on.

In that sense, it’s a vehicle that represents another triumph for Hyundai’s performance division, offering a mix of great acceleration and handling.

Times Series: The Hyundai i20 N on test in the Low Moor area of Bradford, West Yorkshire

Underpinning the driving dynamics is a superb chassis that helps to provide confidence-inspiring front end grip.

Much of the inspiration for the car comes from the rally-winning i20 Coupe WRC.

Under the bonnet, you’ll find a punchy 1.6-litre turbo engine pushing out a meaty 204hp and offering 275 Nm of torque. It means the power to weight ratio is among the best in class, with the i20 N feeling nimble and ultra responsive on twisty B roads.

You feel confident enough to tread on the power as soon as you turn in and it will pull you through.

The six-speed manual gearbox is slick and fun to use, adding to the driver engagement. As a result, 0-62mph takes just 6.2 seconds and the top speed is 142mph.

The mechanical limited-slip differential adds further grip when cornering swiftly, while the suspension is firm and taut to enhance the handling capabilities.

Another clever feature is the ‘rev matching’ function, whereby you press a red button on the steering wheel to synchronise the engine and output shaft for smoother or sportier gear changes.

Times Series: The Hyundai i20 N on test in the Low Moor area of Bradford, and pictured (top left) next to the flywheel on New Works Road once used in the Low Moor Steel Works

As a little aside, it was nice to drive a car with a proper old-style chunky handbrake that needs pulling up when you park, rather than the buttons or switches favoured in most new cars these days.

In terms of looks, there’s no way you’ll confuse this version with the normal i20, as the ‘N’ has a rather aggressive-looking body kit.

Deeper front bumpers with larger air intakes, eye-catching side skirts, a new diffuser and a 10mm suspension drop are among the highlights.

Meanwhile, the roof-mounted spoiler again takes its cue from the world rally car.

The finishing touch comes in the form of 18-inch alloy wheels with bright red-painted brake calipers.

Like the i30 N, there’s an extensive range of configurable driving modes to choose from.

When you engage the more ferocious N driving mode, a fire effect illuminates around the circular display dial in the digital gauge cluster, creating a dramatic effect. Firmer steering, a sharper throttle response and activation of the active exhaust system are the more tangible effects of the more aggressive mode.

Inside the cabin, there’s no drastic change from the regular i20. The main changes consist of aluminium pedals, sports seats and a rather nice sports steering wheel.

Times Series: The Hyundai i20 N on test in the Low Moor area of Bradford, West Yorkshire

The driving position is ideal and the seats are, as you’d expect, very supportive when cornering.

It comes in five door guise only, and there’s also plenty of room in the back, with decent headroom available throughout.

A user-friendly 10.3-inch touchscreen occupies in the centre of the dashboard, through which you control the navigation and infotainment features. There’s lots of standard kit, and it all comes at a cost of less than £25,000.

In the hot supermini category, the Ford Fiesta ST has been a clear leader for some time, but the arrival of the i20 N has produced a genuine rival.

The Lowdown

Hyundai i20 N

PRICE: £24.995 on the road

ENGINE: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol, 204PS

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual, front wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and max speed 142mph