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Hyundai N performance models one step closer after Nurburgring trial


Hyundai is inching closer to the launch of its own high performance identity – and the Australian arm is more than keen to grab a piece of the action.

The Korean company announced at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show its intention to debut its N brand, indicating at the time that the moniker could be applied to any car in the range, including the prestige Genesis offshoot.

A one-off protoype i30, equipped with a modified version of Hyundai's 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an enhanced drivetrain, recently contested the gruelling Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race, completing more than 2,300km and 91 laps of the track.

The company said that the 2.0-litre turbo is set to form the basis of its first N car's powertrain package. Company officials have previously referenced potential competitor vehicles like the new Ford Focus RS, making the i30 package a likely starter.

"The endurance race at the Nurburgring is the toughest race in the world," said Albert Biermann, Head of Vehicle Test and High Performance Development for Hyundai. "It's the perfect environment for testing the resilience of our new turbo-charged two-litre engine under extreme strain."

Hyundai is one of several manufacturers to have a research and development facility located next to the fearsome circuit, which is widely regarded as one of the last great stretches of development tarmac in the world. It is also involved in the World Rally Championship, running an all-wheel-drive turbocharged version of its small i20 hatch.

Adding fuel to the N fire, the company has also just previewed the third iteration of its Veloster-based N car concept series, known as the RM16, at the Busan Motor Show in South Korea.

Hyundai Australia engineers are involved in engineering discussions in Korea around the N brand.

The mid-engined machine is built around an alloy space frame chassis, and pumps 200kW from its Theta 2.0-litre turbo four. The RM16 has also been styled less aggressively than its RM15 predecessor, with a much less pronounced aerodynamic presence, a more integrated front end design and bespoke rims as opposed to motorsport items.

Hyundai Australia is understandably keen to get its hands on the hotted-up N range, which will give it a way into the burgeoning hot hatch market that's currently dominated by the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R.

Peugeot's new 308 GTI and the incoming Ford Focus RS also figure strongly in the space.

CarsGuide.com.au understands that Hyundai Australia engineers are involved in engineering discussions in Korea around the N brand, thanks to the local arm's success in retuning the ride and handling qualities of various Hyundai models.

Hyundai Australia has previously dabbled around the edges of performance, with the lightly fettled i30 SR offering localised sports suspension and a 2.0-litre turbo four-potter, but that car is currently outgunned by the likes of the Mazda3 SP25.

Would a hotted-up Hyundai i30 N tempt you away from the likes of a VW Golf GTI? Let us know what you think in the comments below.