It would've been Hyundai's answer to the "boring" Honda/Acura NSX.
Considering the enduring success of the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf GTI, it made a lot of sense for Hyundai's first high-performance N model to be a hot hatchback too. Under the guidance of former BMW M boss Albert Biermann, Hyundai launched the revered i30 N in Europe in 2017.
But Hyundai's N division almost launched with something far wilder: a mid-engined supercar with a carbon fiber tub. A Hyundai alternative to the likes of the Audi R8 and Acura NSX? It seems unfathomable, but the car's high price would've made it a tough ask at the time for the Korean marque, and it explains why other rumors of a Hyundai supercar never materialized.
"We had plans for a petrol [engine] with or without hybrid, or [it could've accepted] a hydrogen fuel cell," said Biermann of the potential supercar when speaking to Top Gear. When asked if the N supercar had a name, Biermann said, "not really, we just used to call it The Chairman's Car."
Top Gear probed further and asked Biermann if such a car would have been like the Honda NSX (sold here as the Acura NSX), a rare supercar with a mainstream badge. "Sure, but not boring," replied Biermann, who made his opinion of the NSX quite obvious.
Biermann said that Hyundai's N supercar would have cost upwards of $150,000, and back in 2017, it seemed like a stretch too far for the brand. In retrospect, he believes that laying the foundation for the N division with smaller models like the i30 N, i20 N, and the Kona N was the right strategy because they were more attainable.
Biermann's choice of words is interesting. He says that the $150,000 price tag wouldn't have made sense "at that time," suggesting that Hyundai is in a much better position to launch a halo supercar now than it was five years ago. Having experienced the latest brace of Hyundai N cars, we'd have to agree.
While N-badged Hyundais may not dominate in every single metric, they're consistently engaging to drive and never fail to put a smile on one's face. We felt that way after driving the spicy Kona N crossover, and we said that the Elantra N is the most fun you can have for $35,000. They all have soul, and that's not easy to achieve in modern cars that feel increasingly computerized and clinical.
While a mid-engined supercar may not materialize, Hyundai has been working on some amazing N models that could fill the role of a halo car. That includes the N Vision 74, an awesome retro concept with hydrogen power and 679 horsepower. We also have high hopes for the all-electric Ioniq 5 N that is even coming with a drift mode.
We may have missed out on a mid-engined supercar a few years ago, but we have a feeling that the best of Hyundai's N division is still to come.