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Hyundai Palisade N Line incoming! N eruption continues with N and N Line performance models now accounting for one-in-four Hyundais sold in Australia

Hyundai currently offers three full-fat N performance models here.

From cheeky challengers to established favourites in only five years, Hyundai’s N and N Line performance models are now accounting for a quarter of all new Hyundai’s sold in Australia.

And when asked at the local launch of the updated Palisade if the full-size, three-row SUV could get an N makeover,  Hyundai’s public relations and corporate social responsibility senior manager, Guido Schenken said, “N Line would come first”, adding, “we’re one of the biggest per capita (N) markets in the world. We’re all for more Ns.”

In fact, Jonathan Lam, Hyundai Australia’s senior manager product planning, told CarsGuide, “twenty four per cent, or nearly one-in-four (Australian) customers who buy a new Hyundai, buy either an N or N Line product.” That equates to more than 11,000 registrations in the first seven months of 2022.

Hyundai currently offers three full-fat N performance models here. 

The pocket-sized i20 N, pushes 150kW/275Nm from a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, and is aimed squarely at Suzuki's Swift Sport and Ford’s outgoing Fiesta ST.

The slightly larger and more potent (206kW/392Nm) 2.0-litre turbo i30 N in hatch, Fastback, and sedan versions, is a direct challenger to the Subaru WRX, Renault Megane RS Trophy, and Ford’s soon-to-be-extinct Focus ST.

Then, the Kona N transplants the i30 N’s powertrain into a compact SUV package, getting in ahead of (and under-cutting) the soon-to-arrive VW T-Roc R.

The brand is also introducing an i30 N ‘Drive-N’ limited edition, a run of 180 “uniquely badged and numbered models” with interior and exterior upgrades including ‘Phantom Black Pearl’ or ‘Serenity White Pearl’ paint, ‘Dark bronze matte’ forged 19-inch alloy wheels, and an Alcantara interior with red accents.

The sporty ‘warm’ performance N Line treatment has so far been applied to the Kona, i30 hatch and sedan, Tucson, and Sonata, with the Palisade looking like the next cab off the rank. 

And more Ns will undoubtedly come, with Hyundai recently unveiling the RN22e, an AWD EV “rolling lab” designed to explore future performance tech, and the N Vision 74, a dramatic, hydrogen-powered high-performance homage to the 1974 Hyundai Pony coupe, designed by styling legend Giorgetto Giugiario. 

Hyundai has unashamedly modelled its N brand on successful high-performance and motorsport subsidiaries from German makers Mercedes-Benz (AMG), BMW (M) and Audi (RS).

It says the name is derived from three sources. Namyang, the home of Hyundai’s global R&D centre in South Korea, the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, where Hyundai has established a Technical Centre specifically for the development of N models, and a visual representation of a classic race track chicane.

From 2012, N vehicle development was led by Albert Biermann, BMW’s high-performance guru for the previous three decades. His role as executive vice-president and head of vehicle test & high-performance development was supported by Klaus Köster, a former technical lead at Mercedes-AMG, and the pair were joined in 2018 by Thomas Schemera, one of Mr Biermann’s former BMW colleagues. 

While Mr Biermann and Mr Köster built N’s R&D capacity, Mr Schemera developed product planning and marketing strategy, bringing previously separate business divisions together under the N umbrella. Mr Biermann announced his retirement in late 2021 and, although he remains as a technical advisor, his primary role has been taken over by Chung Kook Park.  

James Cleary
Deputy Editor
As a small boy James often sat on a lounge with three shoes in front of him, a ruler between the cushions, and a circular drinks tray in his hands....
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