Hyundai has already sprinkled sporty excitement on its range with the i30 N, the Fastback version of which arrives next month, but it’s planning something truly special to represent the pinnacle of its N brand - a “halo car” that looks set to boast all-wheel drive and a petrol-electric powertrain.
This mysterious, range-topping sports car - which could do for the brand what Subaru’s legendary all-paw WRX did for it last century - has been confirmed by Hyundai bosses, and now details are starting to leak out.
Because it may not actually make it to market before 2022, Hyundai will have plenty of time to come up with a hybrid powertrain that will give it prodigious power, and will be able to put all that grunt to the ground through all four wheels, but not in the usual way.
“We’re developing more powerful combustion engines for future cars,” Gyoo-Heon Choi, vice president of Hyundai’s high-performance vehicle and motorsport division told Autocar, “but also more powerful electric powertrains; experimental performance fuel cells, too.
“Conventional four-wheel drive is an option for the [halo] car, but it is very old technology. I would prefer to think about a front-engined hybridised platform with a rear-mounted electric motor; it’s an appealing direction for us.
“A halo car remains in our plans. It won’t come for a while yet but we know we have to make one. We are now looking at some alternative powertrains and some different options on what kinds of vehicle we might deliver and when.”
We don’t yet know, of course, what shape this halo Hyundai will take, and it could well be a high-performance sedan, like the Kia Stinger, but our money is on a two-door sporty coupe.
By combining the existing N-branded four-cylinder engine, driving the front wheels, and the Hyundai Kona’s electric powertrain, driving the rear, it would already be possible to make a car that offered more than 370kW.
That sounds like the sort of thing N division boss, Albert Biermann, former boss of the M house at BMW, would be keen on.
As for the chances of the N-branded halo car making it down under, Hyundai Australia spokesman Guido Schenken sounds positive.
“Given how well the i30 N has been received by customers here in Australia, the idea of a halo N car sounds fantastic, the car would be ideal for our performance-loving market, if such a car was to exist,” Schenken said, with a wry smile.
Is Hyundai 'N' on the right track? Tell us what you think in the comments below.