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The Hyundai RM20e Exists To Figure Out What Fun Means For Electric Cars

Hyundai RM20e
Photo: Hyundai

The Hyundai RM20e is an 810-horsepower super hatchback, but it’s also an evolving testbed for the South Korean automaker’s performance technology. Like its predecessors, this prototype is getting whipped around racetracks so that its tech can (we hope) trickle down to roads.

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While Hyundai has clearly been hard at work improving the overall quality of its cars in recent years, it seems it’s also been messing with fast-going technology. I have to admit, even after becoming a big fan of Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatch, I totally forgot that the company has been making midengine high-performance prototypes since 2012.

These cars are not exactly precursors to production models, but the idea is that they test performance at extremes so that more practical variants can be built on assembly lines. Which, I guess, makes sense. What do I know, I’m just a blogger.

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The RM20e here is the latest in that line of dream machines and the first to be electric. Hyundai released this sizzle reel recently along with some claimed specs: 810 HP, 708 lb-ft of torque and a time for 0-to-200 kph (about 124 mph) at 9.88 seconds. That’s kind of a weird measure of acceleration, but based on the video clip I’d imagine it feels pretty fast.

As the accompanying ad copy states:

“Project RM, which stands for ‘Racing Midship’ was launched in 2012 to develop and connect new high-performance motorsports technologies with future N models. Ever since, the ‘rolling lab’ has been in charge of progressive evolution in N cars. Likewise, this time we are about to witness the next generation of N performance, electrification.”

Hyundai actually has a whole site dedicated to this thing, which is mostly just hype content, but it’s fun to look at. And more important, it seems like a reasonably strong indicator that the car company is serious about pairing electric power with serious performance.

The RM20e’s press release adds that the vehicle was developed in part thanks to Hyundai’s “recent investment and strategic partnership with Rimac Automobili.” Apparently Hyundai plans to churn out 44 models it considers eco-friendly by 2025 and seems to be planning on moving its performance portfolio to electricity. At least, that’s how I’m interpreting the line: “...taking the Hyundai N brand into the forefront of environmental responsibility.”

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I just hope Hyundai spends time and energy figuring out how to inject real soul and feeling into whatever future EV performance car it ends up turning out. We know EVs can zoom off a stop like shit off a chrome shovel, but that party trick doesn’t have so much practical value. What really makes a car fun to drive is a sense of connectivity between driver and machine. Hyundai’s proved it understands that by producing the Veloster N, so I’m optimistic about the company porting the concept to an electric-propulsion future.

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Hyundai also published a more complete list of the prototype car’s specs, which I’ll port here to peruse if you’re interested:

RM20e (Hyundai N brand prototype) Specifications

Concept

Midship, rear-drive high-performance sports prototype

electrified powertrain

Body Configuration

Two-seat, two-door coupe (Veloster N body-in-white)

Aluminum extrusion front subframe

Steel tube-and-plate rear subframe

Powertrain Layout

Midship motor, rear-drive electric axle

Aerodynamics

Front splitter, large wing spoiler and rear air diffuser

Motor

800-volt  motor and inverter technology

596 kW peak power (20-second interval)

960 Nm peak torque

(810 Horsepower and 708 lb-ft torque equivalent)

Gearbox

Single reduction ratio 1:5.67

Straight-cut gears (spur)

Battery

Energy: 60 kWh; peak power: 600 kW

Nominal voltage: 605 V; peak voltage: 705 V

Liquid-flooded battery-module technology

800-volt fast-charging capability

Top Speed

> 250 KPH (> 155 MPH)

* speed limited for public road driving

Suspension Type

(Front) MacPherson / (Rear) Double-Wishbone

Adjustable hard points and geometry

Dampers

Conventional gas-pressure dampers

Brake

6-piston (front) / 4-piston (rear)

Parking Brake

Mechanical type, in rear

ABS System

Motorsport ABS M5 (Bosch)

* Not valid for public roads

Steering Assist

Rack-mounted motor-driven power steering

Steering Wheel Design

Veloster N TCR design (with paddle shifters)

Overall Dimensions (mm)

4319 (length) x 1945 (width) x 1354 (height) /

2672 (wheelbase)

Interior

Sabelt® sport seats, 6-point safety harness system

E-drive dedicated instrument cluster

Overhang (mm)

899 (front) / 748 (rear)

Minimum Ground Clearance

80 mm

Tires

(Front) 265/35R19, (Rear) 305/30R20

Wheels

19” X 10” (front) / 20” X 11” (rear)

One-piece lightweight forged aluminum alloy wheels

Larger, flared wheel-housing design

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

neverwander
neverwander

How to make an electric performance car that feels engaging:

LET ME HEAR THE WHINE! I know that it’s technically inefficient if it’s making noise. I don’t care. Probably would be nice to somehow be able to turn it off for highways/commutes, but I love the sound of the motor whine. It’s what makes Formula E watchable.