Hyundai’s N badge — performance for the enthusiastPOSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 22 September 2015
HYUNDAI will offer a wide range of options under its new N performance badge so as to broaden its appeal and reach in the performance car market.
But don’t expect them to hit the showrooms soon. The Korean car maker wants to get it right from the start.
Specific line-up details and the announcement of the first N-badged model are still a while away, but the South Korean car-maker has revealed the new sub-brand will offer a variety of models or variants under the one banner.
Speaking at the official announcement of Hyundai N in Frankfurt, chief designer Thomas Burkle said the company was not rushing out its N range, to ensure the first model makes the right impression.
“There are a lot of projects in the pipeline, but in the next few years and not too far away,” he said. “We want to be sure that the first N model is perfect. For us this is more important than launching it fast.
“We are still in the thinking process of where we position the N brand in terms of horsepower and performance, but there will be different versions and grades.
“The reputation of N starts from the first one. The N will be very engaging but we want to also close the gap so the N brand is pulling the overall line-up of cars in a more performance attitude.”
The new range will herald a new more high-performance range for Hyundai – a segment the brand has not been able to previously offer, and while exact models are yet to be confirmed, its rivals may reveal a clue.
“I don’t like to talk about competitors but I think one of the benchmark cars is the Golf GTI,” said Burkle. “There is the Ford RS (Focus), which is a cool thing, there’s Renault and Peugeot is also working on these performance cars.
With those key rivals in its sights, a small hatchback is the most likely candidate to break cover first – possibly based on the company’s next-generation i30 hatchback, GoAuto reports.
As part of the official N-brand launch at Frankfurt, Hyundai wheeled out the RM15 – its first N concept that it revealed earlier this year, which is based on the Veloster, but its mid-engined 300hp layout is unlikely to make it into a production i30 N (main pic).
Unlike the Genesis luxury sedan, which wears just one Hyundai badge, the company will not be hiding the N-brand’s core DNA.
“We don’t want to hide that Hyundai is building this car,” said Mr Burkle. “The N brand is not limited to Genesis or any particular model. The N brand could be a Genesis or any Hyundai.”
Alongside the RM15 prototype at the Frankfurt motor show, Hyundai debuted a wild 650kW Vision Gran Turismo concept (below) that uses a dual hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain, but the company has doused any excitement about a possible production N supercar, confirming the car will be confined to the virtual world.