Hyundai is developing N-badged cars to further distance itself from its roots as an affordable brand. The i30 N will compete with models such as the Volkswagen GTI, Ford Focus RS and sporty versions of the Renault Megane and Seat Leon.
Hyundai has said technology from the N-badged cars will be incorporated into other Hyundai vehicles, enhancing the performance of the entire lineup.
Sales of the i30 N will start in Europe shortly after the Frankfurt show. The i30 N will also be sold in Australia, but not in the U.S. or China. The U.S. and China will get different N-badged cars “in the same spirit” as the i30 N, said Min Soo Kim, head of N brand strategy.
Hyundai has been polishing its sporty credentials since it decided to enter the World Rally Championship in 2013 and first revealed its plans for a N-badged line at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show.
The “N” letter comes from Namyang, Hyundai’s R&D Center in Korea, and also from Nuerburgring, the German race circuit that is home to Hyundai’s European test center. Two close-to-series-production i30 N models finished the ADAC Zurich 24-hour race at the Nuerburgring in May, completing 244 laps on the track, which equals more than 6,000 km.
The i30 N will be a track car suitable for everyday use. Hyundai has not disclosed any pricing details for the car. The i30 N will be sold ready to be taken onto race tracks although tuning packs might be available in some markets.
No decision has been make on whether to offer a four-wheel-drive version or a dual-clutch transmission.
Hyundai plans to launch two more N-badged models, one next year and another in early 2019. It hasn’t shared details on the models but motoring press reports have said Hyundai plans to introduce an i20 N subcompact and a Veloster N coupe.
The N division employs 120 people in Namyang and 15 in Ruesselsheim, Germany, with additional help coming from engineers in Hyundai’s powertrain and chassis departments.