Ever since the former vice president of engineering at BMW’s M Division, Albert Biermann, joined Hyundai, there was high hopes that the brand would begin to make its move with performance cars.
And as the years have gone by, his influence has quickly allowed Hyundai to become a worthy player in the performance world.
‘N’ stands for Namyang (where Hyundai’s research and development centre is) and also the Nürburgring – the German racetrack where Hyundai’s N models have been honed.
The N division is inspired by Hyundai’s participation in motorsport and has allowed fantastic models such as the i30 N to be produced
Here’s Hyundai’s N range explained…
The i30 N Hatchback
The i30 N is where ‘N’ started for road cars. First shown in full in July 2017, it was soon realised that Hyundai was a serious contender in the hot hatch world.
Since launch, buyers of the five-door hatchback have been able to choose between the standard car and a ‘Performance’ variant. The latter increases the 2.0-litre petrol engine’s power by 25bhp to 272bhp. It also adds Pirelli P-Zero tyres, 19-inch alloy wheels, an electronic limited-slip differential and a crackling performance exhaust system.
Prices currently start from £25,995 for the standard car and rise to £29,495 for the Performance model.
N extends with the i30 Fastback N
With huge success and popularity being seen for the i30 hatchback, Hyundai soon decided to give the ‘N’ treatment to its stylish coupe-like i30 Fastback.
This stylish model accounts for a small proportion of sales next to the conventional car, but is an interesting alternative next to the standard i30 N.
The Fastback is available exclusively in the high-spec Performance form and commands a £500 premium over the hatchback – starting from £29,995.
Introduction of more affordable N-Line models
For buyers not able to afford the list price or running costs of the hot N versions, Hyundai buyers can now benefit from a new N-Line trim.
This is similar to Audi’s S line grade in the sense it brings the looks of the hot models with little performance gain, but the formula is proven to work.
Currently the N-Line treatment is available on the i30 hatchback and four-door Fastback, as well as the Tucson crossover.
Future N-Line models?
The hot N treatment is certainly not set to end with the i30 variants. With the introduction of the Tucson N-Line, that’s a strong indication that a true hot Tucson is on the way.
With a growing number of hot crossovers, such as the Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R, going on sale, this gives Hyundai all the more reason to enter this market with its Tucson.
Elsewhere, it’s expected that an N version of the i20 supermini is on the way, with spy shots capturing this model in testing at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany. This would make a lot of sense, given that it’s the i20 that competes in the World Rally Championship, which helped to establish ‘N’ road cars.
A bespoke sports car?
Ever since the Veloster coupe was dropped from Hyundai’s line-up several years ago, there has been a sports car-sized gap in the South Korean manufacturer’s range.
It’s currently working on a halo sports model though, so we’ll see what that brings soon. Furthermore, in May 2019, Hyundai announced it was investing in Croatian electric supercar manufacturer Rimac to develop “high-performance electric vehicles”. A sign N is going electric, perhaps?