Hyundai’s test and development centre at the Nürburgring is one year old this month.
When the facility, which cost more than £5m, was first announced I’m sure I wasn’t alone in raising a quizzical eye and wondering why a manufacturer that mainly sells family oriented cars feels the need to hammer its test mules around the Nordschleife.
It's one thing to use the Green Hell to hone the dynamics of a performance car, but it’s unlikely that a family holiday is going to include a white-knuckle lap of a track with two kids in the back and a bootful of luggage.
So why do car makers feel the need to hone their cars on the world’s most grueling circuit?
Yesterday, at the unveiling of the second-generation Hyundai i20 in Germany, I got the chance to put that question to Martin Bott. As the senior engineer for vehicle testing and development at Hyundai Motor Europe, his role involves flitting between Hyundai’s European headquarters in Russelsheim and the new facility at the Nürburgring.
“The test centre is our extended workbench,” he says. “We have some test tracks near our headquarters in Russelsheim, but they are not really usable for durability and reliability tests or for aspects such as suspension turning.