Hyundai N, which has been around as a brand for close to three years, has so far had exposure mainly on the South Korean brand’s World Rally Championship car. But, its first car, the Hyundai i30 N hot hatch, is expected to hit local showrooms in the second half of 2017.
Speaking with CarAdvice in Canberra last week, Scott Grant, Hyundai australia’s chief operation officer, confirmed the N brand’s plans and the local arm's eagerness to take all models available to it.
“There are some high quality individuals from overseas and other brands that have been recruited [for N], as well as a whole team of people from Korea that are now behind it. And it's under way, so its first product will be next year," he said.
Hyundai has recruited the former chief engineer of BMW M division, Albert Biermann, moving him up a letter to N. Biermann had spent more than 30 years with the Bavarian brand and was behind iconic cars such as the M3 and M5.
Details of the N brand are still somewhat sketchy, only that six models are expected and at least one of them will be an i30 and another one - or potentially two - based on the Tuscon and Santa Fe SUV.
Grant says that in order to get the projected started quickly, the brand has committed and is moving forward in a fluid manner.
“Our approach is that we tend to make a decision and get committed to something very quickly without necessarily having all of the answers from the get-go, so, as it's happened, we are refining and locking down how it's going to go.”
Asked how serious N would be as a performance brand, Grant said the company’s commitment is paramount.
“N range would be a serious move by our company into the performance automotive sector and it would be executed against a range of product, hot hatch, SUVs and some others that haven’t even been made clear to us," he said.
"I understand that they are working on six products and whether all of those are suitable for Australia is still emerging and developing, but the first one to come out of that lab will be the i30 N."
The hot hatch - which will take on the iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Focus ST and other hot hatches on the market - has not had much local input in terms of design or development, Grant admits, but local suspension tuning will take place later this year.
It would be hard to speculate which other models, apart from the i30 N and Tucson or Santa Fe SUVs, the N brand has in mind. A new version of the Veloster with an N variant seems likely, but whether the likes of Accent, Elantra, i40 and Sonata will get a performance variant remains to be seen.
It also remains to be seen whether Hyundai will decide to have a performance only variant halo model, much like the GT-R is to Nissan or NSX is to Honda.