Interview

New Hyundai Veloster N Is The Driver's Car Its Competitors Are Not

It's about beats per minute, not revs per minute.

Lap times seem to matter more than ever these days, given how often automakers travel to the Nurburgring during development testing. Even hot hatches, specifically the new Honda Civic Type R, head there with the goal of setting a new segment-breaking lap time. But Hyundai is different. Instead of purely focusing on lap times, its goal is to build the best darn driver’s car possible. We spoke with Mike Evanoff, manager of product planning for Hyundai North America, at Detroit and talked shop about the all-new Veloster lineup, specifically the hot Veloster N.

“The rear suspension was something we really wanted to concentrate on. Even more importantly is the adaption of the multi-link rear suspension (for all new Velosters) so dynamics are really strong, a nicely balanced car,” Evanoff said. Of course, Hyundai poached Albert Biermann, former longtime BMW M development chief, a few years ago and, along with the Kia Stinger GT, the Veloster N is also his doing. “Biermann and his team were heavily involved. A lot of influence from the i30 N,” Evanoff said. “The engine and the front differential are shared. It’s a fantastic driver’s car. Biermann is really key to the whole development. Our focus with the Veloster N is handling.

“It’s down on power compared to the competition (Focus ST, Golf GTI), but what our development guys really strived for is the feeling behind the wheel. The confidence. The fun to drive factor. I liken to analog versus digital. A lot of cars are very capable today, but at the end of the day what you experience on the backroads and canyons…is it really rewarding? Whereas I think the Veloster N will really deliver. It’s about beats per minute not revs per minute. It’s about how it makes the driver feel. If you have fun with it then that’s the payoff.” The previous generation Veloster Turbo was a nice first effort from Hyundai in the hot hatch segment, but it was quickly overrun by competitors.

With Biermann now and board and combined with lessons learned, Hyundai is confident it’s built the best-driving hot hatch on the market. We’ll have to wait until we get some wheel time to confirm whether that’s indeed the case.

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Hyundai Veloster
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