The first Hyundai N Performance model is expected to be a hotted-up, all-wheel drive version of the next-generation Hyundai i30 hatch.
How do we know? CarAdvice spoke with Albert Biermann, Hyundai’s recently-appointed head of vehicle test and high performance development, who made it fairly clear that Europe is the target for the first-ever N Performance car.
That, combined with the fact that an all-new Hyundai i30 hatchback is expected at the end of 2016, means a long-anticipated hot-hatch version is a fair assumption.
Biermann confirmed the first N car is still a while away, stating it "will be on the road in two years from now".
He expanded on that point by clarifying what form the first Hyundai N Performance model would take.
“It is a car more focussed on Europe, and then the next car will be focussed on the US, and so we take an easy start.
“We don’t go to full blast on the first car but the philosophy, the jobs, how we approach a high-performance car, how we develop it, the thinking – it’s all full high-performance,” he said.
As CarAdvice has previously reported, the N model must be fun to drive – a sentiment echoed by Biermann.
“There’s, for our company, some new technology - but it's much more the way we are working on the project and it’s all about the driving fun. That’s on top of everything else – fun to drive.”
When asked if that meant it could be front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, Biermann suggested the latter would be the best option.
“Are there really so many AWD cars out there that are fun to drive?” he challenged. “I think one can, but it’s not out there yet,” he stated, smugly suggesting that the likes of the Subaru WRX STI, Ford Focus RS, Golf R and countless other performance models with all-paw traction aren’t fun.
“You need to wait till then…” he said - but that could well leave the door open for the car to be a more conventional front-wheel-drive hot hatch.
When asked if the brand will use the i20 as its platform for the N Performance version that hits the market first as a means of leveraging its World Rally Championship (WRC) competitor, Biermann indicated that would not be the case.
“We’re getting closer. This will be something very approachable for a wider amount of customers to bring some new experience enthusiast and get young people attracted to our brand. I think the relation of fun to drive to cost will be very very good,” he said.
He indicated that it has to be fun to drive for a long period of time, including on a racetrack, “not sitting with hot mode after two laps cooking your transmission, coolers or brakes – really substantial performance cars”.
The N brand will also be applied the company’s luxury brand Genesis, with the G70 sedan likely to be first.