Hyundai's Mid-Engine Sports Car Sounds Like It's Going To Happen Even If Hyundai Won't Say So

Photos: Hyundai

Today at the LA Auto Show, Hyundai showed the RM19 Racing Midship Sports Car “concept,” and it was an odd debut for a mid-engine test mule that has been in development since 2012. The thing is, it sounds like Hyundai’s actually doing it, in some form or fashion.

Road & Track reports that it’s on the path to production, citing an unnamed Hyundai insider. And Hyundai’s own press release has things to say like:

  • “signals future high-performance potential for Hyundai N brand”
  • “serves as a development platform for future N brand products, including a potential brand-halo car”
  • “Potential for electrified variants in the future”

That’s a lot for just a concept or a dedicated race car. And the photos of it show a lot of the thing on the roads near the company’s development center next to the Nürburgring.

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And Hyundai repeatedly mentions road use of this very much not-a-production-car vehicle:

“RM models underwent extensive road testing to validate newly-developed technologies, observe their effects on performance, and improve them for subsequent application on future N models.”

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Lots of road testing. Got it.

“The RM platform is a versatile engineering testbed, allowing effective evaluation of various powertrains and performance levels, all on normal roads and environments,” said Albert Biermann, head of global research and development for Hyundai Motor Company. 

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The new boss, poached from BMW M, seems to like it. His first N car, the Veloster N, is surprisingly good to drive, so that bodes well for this thing. Whatever it is or might be.

RM19 shares the 2.0-liter turbo engine with TCR racecars from Hyundai N development. However, unlike TCR racecars which are affected by BOP (Balance of Performance) adjustments, Hyundai RM19 offers extra boost of its output without these BOP restrictions. RM19 offers racecar-like levels of performance, balance, braking and grip while retaining daily road-going capability.

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Road-going capability is a thing you need for, well, road cars.

Moreover, it appears Hyundai spoke to the press to underline that this is not a future road car in the making, but merely part of a development system designed to get a road car made... in the future.

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And yet! Hyundai spokesman Brandon Ramirez told us at the show today that there are no plans for a production model. It’s a technology prototype, he said.

Here’s some lines from Brit autojourno Steve Sutcliffe driving and reviewing the car for AutoExpress:

Let’s get one thing clear straight away: the Hyundai RM19 you see here is not a prototype of a production car that will appear in a year or so’s time. Instead it is, according to the Hyundai engineers who have built it, just a rolling test bed for various systems and technologies that will appear on various Hyundais in years to come.

So that’s the PR side of things out of the way. Because what I can also tell you is that the RM19 is very much the Mk1 prototype of a Hyundai that will enter production in Mk2 form costing a lot less than £100k, possibly as soon as 2021.

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Sutcliffe goes on to say that the car shows a lot of intent for Hyundai to make a mid-engine road car, though one seemingly aimed more at something like a Porsche Cayman than a 911:

But the RM19’s mid-engined chassis and its all-round double wishbone suspension, and its e-diff, its steering and its vast ventilated brakes are all elements that aren’t that far away from those that will appear on the next prototype: the RM20. And when the RM20 appears “sometime next year” this will be a much closer representation of the so-called “Halo N-car” that Hyundai will eventually put on sale in 2021-ish.

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I don’t know that I would be pushing forward a mid-engine sports car if I was an auto executive, but I’m glad Hyundai seems to be. If the Veloster N is anything to go by, this car is gonna rule.

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Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.