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18 October 2019

Richard Berry drove Hyundai's insane iMax N 'Drift Bus' - all eight of him!

By Richard BerryRichard Berry

That masked singer show. Bicycle sharing. Man buns. Unsurprisingly, the stuff nobody asks for tends to be the things we really don’t need. Not in the case of the Hyundai iMax N ‘Drift Bus’, however, which was a top-secret entry into this year’s World Time Attack Challenge.

The story goes that Hyundai Germany thought it would be a hilarious April Fool’s Day joke to post an iMax on its Instagram page but Photoshopped to look like it had been given a high-performance upgrade – an iMax N, if you will.

Little did they know (and neither did pretty much everybody else, even at Hyundai) that on the other side of the planet Hyundai Australia was actually building an iMax N for real. Well for fun, and just as a one off, but it was actually being done with the aim of taking it the World Time Attack Challenge and entering it in three categories: the Clubsprint Class, Flying 500 and the Drifting Cup.

Yup, a regular iMax with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel was driven into one of Hyundai’s workshops secretly and after hours a crack squad of Hyundai’s technicians and engineers went to work – for weeks.

The diesel engine was turfed and a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 petrol making more than 300kW and 555Nm was wedged in with a little bit of firewall persuasion. Hyundai says the V6 was sourced from one of its prototype cars in Korea along with the steering system and the eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive with a limited slip differential the iMax N Drift Bus was also given electronically-controlled suspension.

The ‘monsterfication’ didn’t end there. The iMax N Drift Bus wears signature N car Performance blue paint, side skirts, a giant front splitter, LED tail-lights from a US-spec iMax, a massive roof top spoiler, 19-inch alloy wheels nicked from an i30N, along with a diffuser from that hot hatch, which was stretched to fit.

So, what’s it like to drive? You’ll have to watch the video above, in which I took it for a couple of laps around Pheasant Wood Circuit. What I can tell you is that just before I headed out on track, I asked the head mechanic of the iMax N Drift Bus if there’s anything I should know.

“Yeah, when those turbos wind up it loves to step out a bit,” he said with a grin.

He wasn’t fibbing.