The Hyundai i30N hot hatch hasn’t been launched yet, but the company’s performance division is already considering a more powerful derivative — one that N division boss Albert Biermann admits would be aimed at competing with the Ford Focus RS.
Hyundai certainly doesn’t lack ambition when it comes to faster models, and two other derivatives are set to follow within months of the i30N going on sale next year. But Biermann said he sees the turbocharged 2.0-litre, front-wheel-drive car as being a start, rather than an end point, and he admitted to Autocar that he has been very interested in the Focus RS and its torque-biasing rear axle.
“We have been looking at this already,” he said at the i30N presentation at the Nürburgring last month. “I would not exclude for the future that we would do it, but it depends on how we grow.
“If we came up with a performance car on the highest level [now], it might be too fast for our customers and our dealerships. But I can see for the future that we will make a really high-performance car in the C-segment. Then, of course, we would need all-wheel drive.”
Although we have only partial details of the i30N at present, insiders say it will be powered by a new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine producing at least 255bhp and will be offered with a limited-slip differential, probably as an option.
However, the new engine has been designed to allow for higher-output derivatives, possibly even one that could get close to the 345bhp that Ford extracts from the Focus RS’s 2.3-litre turbo engine.
The big question — to which Biermann admits he doesn’t know the answer — is whether Hyundai’s customers will develop an appetite for more powerful derivatives that will justify the development cost of creating a significantly enhanced version.
“For the base model, there is no all-wheel drive plan. The i30 will not come with it,” he said. “But you know Hyundai: if we think something is right for our customers, then we do it. We could create something at a very high-performance level, but first we need to test the waters and grow some fan base. Then we can reach higher and higher; it’s just a matter of performance level. If it goes up a lot, then obviously you need to have all-wheel drive.”