Spy shots of the Hyundai i30 N model have been around for some time and CarAdvice revealed back in February that Hyundai had ambitions of producing a performance derivative of the new Tucson SUV, but specific details and official confirmation remains elusive.
Speaking to us at the launch of the new Tucson this week, Hyundai Australia’s marketing manager Oliver Mann said the company would be most interested in performance variants, particularly for the i30, for which Australia is the largest market in the world.
“I don’t think you could ever pretend that it’s a huge volume model, but it could play an enormous role in building the Hyundai brand," Mann said.
“Performance adds a dimension of appeal in terms of driver appeal, durability and I guess on those terms the investment in [World Rally Championship] motorsport that Hyundai is making makes sense because it has a tangible outcome that people can buy into in the product range.”
In regards to a performance version of the Hyundai Tucson, Mann said the new Santa Fe SR is a case in point of the interest in sportier SUV models.
“I guess you can relate it back to what we’ve done with Santa Fe and the SR version and I guess there is significant interest in sports SUVs and that’s something that we would certainly look into.”
Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer John Elsworth told us that the company would "absolutely" take performance models and that the Hyundai brand is now ready for sportier variants.
“We are ready, I think they are the types of products that can transform your brand,” Elsworth said.
“There is a nice little market niche going on for sports everything, sports mid-sized cars, sports small cars, sports SUVs. We haven’t heard too much about this N thing, we know there’s things coming and we put up our hand and this is a market that really responds well to sports derivatives. We love sports cars in Australia whether they are sports SUVs or sports passenger cars.”
Roman Naimey, Hyundai Australia’s assistant manager of product planning, confirmed to CarAdvice that “Hyundai Motor Company Australia is active in all discussions relating to N products".
“We are currently evaluating the N business case and hope to be in a position to announce explicit details soon.”
CarAdvice believes the i30 will be the first model that will wear the N performance badge for Hyundai Australia and will likely sport either a tuned 1.6 or 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. We suspect, based on the spy photos and information to date, Hyundai may be developing the car in both front and all-wheel drive configurations, much in the same manner as the Golf GTI and Golf R.
At the sub-brand’s launch, the company presented an i20 WRC car with prominent N branding. Since then, though, no production road cars have materialised.
According to Hyundai, N is named in honour of its Namyang R&D centre in South Korea, which is involved with the company’s motorsport and rallying endeavours.