The launch of the Hyundai i30N, and with it the true start of the Korean firm’s N performance division, has been a long time coming – and the signs have been there for years.

“When we launched the World Rally Championship car in 2013, it had N branding all over it,” says Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai UK’s chief executive. “People went, ‘What the heck is N?’. It was always on the cards, and it shows the planning that’s gone into this. The purpose of going into the WRC was for N.”

Hyundai i30 N revealed at Frankfurt Motor Show

0003 Hyundai i30

That forward planning is notable: by highlighting the N brand and proving itself in motorsport (both in the WRC and in the production-based Nürburgring 24 Hours), Hyundai has ensured that, long before the i30N was finally shown in public today, the prospect of it having a performance arm doesn’t feel odd.

All small Hyundai models to benefit from Nürburgring development

But make no mistake: Hyundai’s decision to launch its equivalent of Ford’s RS line, Volkswagen’s GTI and R models and BMW’s M Performance models is a bold move – and a big statement of intent. The Korean firm is known for making value-for-money, practical machines; N is all about driving dynamics, performance and emotion.

0004 Hyundai i30