Hyundai will launch a series of high-performance road cars under a new sub-brand, called N.
The name has been chosen in reference to the firm's technical centre in Namyang, Korea. The N brand will be based in Alzenau, near Frankfurt, which also acts as the base for Hyundai Motorsport, the company's World Rally Championship team.
The first car to bear the branding will be the 2014 World Rally Car, which is based on the Hyundai i20 and will start competing in the Monte Carlo Rally next month.
A range of new performance cars will follow the rally car. Although Hyundai won't be drawn on which of its existing models will spawn N models, it seems logical that the i20 hatchback will receive a performance upgrade to link-in with the rally campaign. Hyundai N is also likely to feature everything from warm hatches to extreme variants.
Michel Nandan, Hyundai Motorsport team principal said: "We will communicate more about N next year. The idea is to use the connection between the research and development centre in Namyang, Korea, and the motorsport division in Alzenau, Germany, to put all the engineering capability into special car models".
Speaking at the launch of the WRC team in Frankfurt, Hyundai Motorsport president Gyoo-Heon Choi said: "This is the start of a new chapter in Hyundai's history, one that we expect to have a positive impact on our brand around the globe."
The new Hyundai N brand is part of the firm's bid to establish more of an emotional link with its customers. It is also part of a new strategy to offer more dynamically focused cars – helped by the creation of a new technical centre at the Nürburgring earlier this year.
As well as wanting to grow its European market share from the current 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent by 2020, Hyundai is targeting improved retention of customers for repeat purchases.