Does this mean a Focus RS fighter is happening?
Now that Hyundai has launched its next-generation Veloster lineup, there’s already some early talk about potential special trims and other packaging options. But what we’re interested in is whether an all-wheel drive system can be bolted into place. After all, Ford did just that with the Focus RS, and Volkswagen with the Golf R. Wouldn’t it make some sense for Hyundai to do the same? Of course it would. So we asked about that during our conversation with Mike Evanoff, manager of product planning for Hyundai North America, at Detroit earlier this week.
“Never say never. We need to see what’s going on. But front-drive cars have become a lot of fun, and with the right differential it makes all the difference in the world,” Evanoff said. But then he made mention of the fact that the also new Kona subcompact crossover can be had with optional AWD. “Both Veloster and Kona are built on a platform that’s been appropriately modified for each. Kona and Veloster also share some engines. The platforms are not identical, but they are similar, so take what you want from that.” Evanoff added. Obviously for now Hyundai is entirely focused on the new Veloster launch and marketing campaign, which makes sense. But give it some time.
Owner feedback will arrive and Hyundai will also continue to monitor what the competition is doing. Speaking of which, while the Focus RS will probably finish up its run next year and the next gen Golf is also on the way, question is whether a market for an AWD hot hatch will still exist. Probably, yes. But at the same time, as Ford and VW are only just beginning to roll out their respective new hatchbacks, Hyundai could have a window of time to dominate the AWD hatch and hot hatch segment. We're sure Hyundai has probably realized that, but it won't admit anything at this time. There's also something else to consider: the Honda Civic hatchback and Type R. From what we know, it'll remain solely FWD.
Could that be another deciding factor for Hyundai? Look, anything's possible. But as Evanoff reiterated to us, the new Veloster N will hopefully prove again that FWD is a blast to drive. Thing is, so is AWD. Just ask all of those very happy Focus RS owners.