After a few almost-but-not-quite-there performance cars, Hyundai is finally getting serious about offering something that can really light your face on fire. The automaker recently formed its own N-brand performance division and the first car will gun for the Focus RS and Civic Type R.
Hyundai’s cooking up something called the i30N, according to a recent article from Car and Driver, and it’s based on the i30, which you’ve probably never heard of because it’s called the Elantra GT over here. It’s projected to be a front-driver making about 260 horsepower from a 2.0 liter turbocharged four, but that’s not all. Included in the i30N’s arsenal is a new suspension, a higher-capacity cooling system, structural reinforcement, and switchable active dampers.
There is also the possibility of an upgraded version with larger brakes, more power, and a limited-slip differential, because what’s the point of going extremely fast if you’re just going to kill yourself.
Hyundai’s N division is headed up by Albert Biermann, a man with an extremely German name, who is fittingly the former head of development for BMW’s M series models.
Yes, he headed M, and now he heads N.
While Hyundai’s new performance arm might not have the most original name, at least it has some serious know how. But despite Biermann’s background in taking on Europe’s best performance cars, he’s not interested in winning a lap-time war on the Nürburgring and even threw some shade at other automakers who built a handful track-focused hatchbacks that sacrificed real-world practicality. From C&D:
We were working on tuning at the Nürburgring, but not a lap time number. We know the car is fast, but there’s no plan to offer it with cup tires or without rear seats. Of course, I can speak to Michelin or Pirelli and get them to make me some nice tires, maybe go 10 seconds quicker on the Nordschleife . . . [but] we don’t want to do this.
There is even some discussion about the development of an all-wheel-drive version similar to what Ford offers in the Focus RS, as hinted by Hyundai’s recent AWD RN30 concept:
We look at all kinds of solutions, and of course we talk to suppliers, just like Ford does... we have started this sort of thing, and we always want to have [a] strong value for [the] money, we need to be sure the customer benefit for such expensive technology is really there.
While the i30N is expected to be for Europe only, there are plans in the works to use some of its components in a US spec N-badged car eventually because we like going fast and doing fast things too, but on a different platform.
Both the US and Korea get the Hyundai Elantra (Avenza in Korea), and the brand is now testing the waters in America with the turbocharged Elantra Sport. Given that Hyundai’s last performance offerings like the Veloster Turbo and Genesis Coupe weren’t actually, uh, exciting, it might be a step in the right direction.