Thomas revealed there are no plans for the car to enter production immediately, but stated the 195kW/318Nm Hyundai Veloster-Raptor could attract a price tag of less than $40,000 – which would see it sit above the standard 150kW/265Nm Veloster SR Turbo by $7000 - if it were to enter the market.
“The car is an experiment [put together by Hyundai Australia’s engineering team] and it’s an exploration of how far you can take the Veloster platform,” Thomas said.
“We saw that there was potential there. The car is very much an expression of what’s possible rather than saying, ‘right, we’re going to build this, we’re going to do it’."
Apart from a retuned ECU, the six-speed manual-equipped Veloster-Raptor – driven by CarAdvice back in August – features a cat-back exhaust, Quaife limited-slip front differential, high-performance dampers, progressive rate King Springs, performance brake pads and 19-inch wheels with Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
“If we could do it at the right price, if we could keep it under $40,000 – and our figures show we could do it with that package under $40,000 – then we think there’s a market there.”
An updated Veloster spied performance testing at the Nurburgring back in May and tipped for a 2015 local launch could prove an ideal base car for any production Raptor, though Thomas said durability would be key.
“The thing is, any project like that, you need to make it durable. If you up the engine power, then you’ve got to make sure everything else matches.
“So in order to make even a limited production run of one of those cars it has to meet Hyundai Motor Company’s durability standards. So any business case for that car has to take that into account, but we’re certainly interested in doing it and we’ll explore every avenue to make it happen.”
Thomas also confirmed development work on the marque’s upcoming ‘N’ range of motorsport-inspired road cars announced late last year is well underway.
“We expect the first N car to be quite a serious car but we don’t have much information about it at the moment,” he said. “It’s too far away to start talking about specifics on the N cars and the N range. But obviously with the WRC [World Rally Championship] cars out there, you expect to be able to build on the N brand sooner rather than later.”
Coming off the back of this month’s 2014 WRC Rally Australia event – which saw all three Hyundai i20-based WRC cars, including that of Australian Chris Atkinson, finish in the top 10 – Thomas said the company’s re-entry into the sport it left at the end of 2003 has been fantastic for its global publicity.
“As a company, it’s great for the brand.
“It’s fantastic to see us out in proper international competition mixing it with the best and it’s a terrific brand builder globally.”
Thomas said the lack of a performance-oriented product to match the rally-bred offering was not an issue.
“I don’t see it as a missed opportunity because you get so much out of it and you’ve got the cars out there competing," he said. “I think the idea of waiting to compete just because you haven’t got a road car with an N badge on it is not a factor.”
With Hyundai’s return to WRC, its brand-new 'N' division and a mildly tricked up Hyundai i30 recently spied, genuinely sporty product from the South Korean car maker appears to be only a matter of time.