These are the latest spy images of the Hyundai i30 N, a sporty version of the family hatchback that will be used to kick-start the Korean manufacturer's new N performance division.
Test mules of the hot i30 have been seen regularly around the Nurburgring through the summer. The prototypes show that the i30 N will have lowered suspension, a rear spoiler mounted at the top of the hatchback glass and larger alloy wheels than the regular model. It appears to have a subtle bodykit at best, though, with little extra flaring in the wheelarches. This indicates that Hyundai is aiming for the more mainstream end of the hot hatchback market - a rival for the VW Golf GTI or the Ford Focus ST instead of the Golf R, Civic Type R or Focus RS.
Through the windscreen it is possible to see additional round instruments on the top of the dashboard. These could be to display the boost pressure of the turbocharged engine.
At the recent Frankfurt motor show, Hyundai's N division boss Albert Biermann told Autocar that the sub-brand's cars would be capable of use at track days, thanks to improved cooling, uprated brakes and more robust suspension components. "We want these N cars to be affordable high-performance," he said. "It will be the wild end of the brand."
Hyundai’s World Rally Championship boss, Michel Nandan, has previously stated that that the i30 will spearhead the introduction of N division, which is intended to create a greater emotional link around Hyundai’s road cars.
Nandan did not elaborate on the expected performance of the car, beyond saying that N-badged cars will have a “high-performance engine” as well as “more sporty suspension”. The engine specification is still under discussion, according to Nandan, who confirmed only that it would be turbocharged using WRC-derived technology.
It is expected that a hardcore version of the i20 will follow as Hyundai seeks to capitalise on the N brand as a means of adding desirability to its wider road car range.
Although he wouldn’t be drawn on specifics about N, Hyundai’s new European boss, Thomas A Schmid, said the firm knew it had to be able to compete with the very best hot hatches before launching the N brand.
“Whatever we do has to be credible in the marketplace straight away, because the brand needs to build credibility,” Schmid said.
￼Nandan said the motorsport branch of Hyundai has worked with the road-focused N brand to develop the new cars.
“We are quite well connected because we exchange information and data,” he said. “From our [WRC] side, we get help with calculations, and engineers from R&D look at what we are doing and which way we do it. It’s more technical co-operation.
“It’s not that you can transfer things from a rally car to a road car. It’s impossible. They’re completely different and it’s not the same purpose. But in terms of technology, yes. For some materials and technologies, this can be done.”
Hyundai hired Biermann, former chief engineer of BMW’s M division, at the end of last year, with the specific brief of developing cars for the N brand.
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