Yet perhaps the Tolman’s dynamic standout is the way it combines its fruit-fly agility and even-keel corning attitude with a supple ride, which is particularly impressive when you consider the 205’s minimal mass.
The stiff-legged i20 has cast-iron control, but it also feels like it’s pummelling the road into submission while the GTi flows over the surface, filtering out the nastiest imperfections. It is quite a trick and testament to Tolman’s chassis-whispering abilities.
Tolman 205 GTI vs Hyundai i20N: verdict
This 205 does as promised by distilling the energy and excitement of the original into a package with cutting-edge dynamics. Does that make it a genuine alternative to the i20? As a pure driver’s machine, yes, and then some.
The Hyundai’s limits are higher, its ultimate body control is tighter and its performance is more accessible, yet while it’s a hoot to hoon, it can’t deliver the same laugh-out-loud fun as the 205 or capture your heart in the same way. From the moment you clap eyes on it to the second you shut the door and walk away – with more than just one backward glance – the Tolman captivates like few modern machines can.
As an everyday driver, however, the situation is reversed. The Tolman could take mundane use in its stride, but even with the updates it’s a more raucous companion that can’t match the Hyundai’s refinement, creature comforts or low-effort ease of use. And there’s the thorny issue of price.
This is one of the more affordable restomods, but prices start at around £60,000, plus the cost of a donor. This car? You will need to double that amount. That’s a serious chunk of change, but there’s no doubt the beautifully finished and exquisitely realised Tolman justifies the asking price.
Yet it also serves to remind what brilliant value the £26,530 Hyundai is and why it’s one of the driver’s car bargains of the decade. A hot hatch great like the Peugeot? If we see restomod examples appearing four decades from now, we’ll know the answer.
1st. Hyundai i20N