Maybe Hyundai should put the first N model into production before worrying about a second.
Hyundai appears quite content with talking up its N Performance division before a single production model has been introduced. The N brand has all the ingredients to be a success, but we need to see some concrete evidence that some actual work is being done to build good-driving cars. We know that the first N model will be a sporty version of the i30 hatchback, which could be rebadged as an Elantra in the US. Speaking to Autocar at the reveal of the Kona SUV, Hyundai gave some more information about what the second N model will be.
The head of the Hyundai's vehicle testing and high-performance development, Albert Biermann, confirmed that a second N model is due in 2018. This will follow up on the i30N, which is slated to launch this year. Hyundai hasn't released anything official, but hinted at a 375 hp Ford Focus RS rival based on the RN30 concept. The plan for the N division has been a complete mystery, but Joonhong Park, the head of Hyundai’s high-performance vehicle development center explained that the N division only wants to cherry-pick the most appropriate models from the Hyundai range. “There is no plan to have an N model for every Hyundai,” Park said, “[although] we have a road map for the next few years to come."
One thing is for sure about these N division cars, they likely will not have to rely on hybrid power or electric assist. Park explained that “Hyundai has technology of every type, hybrid, plug in hybrid, EV, fuel cell” and that “right now there's no plans to bring that tech to N, but when the time comes, whether that's because the customer requests it or we think there's a moment or a need by regulation, we will be ready to have a sustainable high-performance car.” It looks like these N cars could be what we were hoping for after all.
Biermann mirrored Park's hesitation of hybrid power and cited emotion and character as the goal for Hyundai's N division. He went on to say that “[he] could eventually see a more emotional EV performance car. But for [him], it's hard to imagine a performance car without an engine, although maybe that's me getting old.”