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Frankfurt show: Hyundai lights N brand fuse

N-gage warp-drive: Hyundai has gone live with its long-awaited N brand, which will evolve into a new range of performance-focused vehicles, starting with the nicknamed Muroc fuel-cell concept.

Motorsport-bred N sub-brand heralds new range of potent Hyundai vehicles

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Hyundai logo15 Sep 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

HYUNDAI has officially kicked off its driver-focused and racecar-derived N sub-brand at the Frankfurt motor show, paving the way for a range of high-performance vehicles that will finally allow the South Korean marque to compete in high-powered sports segments.

The car-maker is yet to reveal its first N-badged production vehicle but has charged a mighty 650kW fuel-cell-powered concept car with the task of championing the new brand until a road car is confirmed.

Dubbed the Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo, the visceral track-focused flagship is only destined to do battle in the Playstation video game Gran Turismo at this stage, but its no-compromise focus on performance is the new N-brand mantra.

Head of Hyundai Motor Company’s Performance Development & High Performance Vehicle Division, Albert Biermann, said the introduction of Hyundai N was a critical milestone for the company and will change the way customers perceive the brand.

“By revealing this exciting high-performance sub-brand N to our customers, we’re changing and challenging expectations of the Hyundai Motor brand,” he said.

“Drivers will soon experience the thrills and emotions of our proven motorsport prowess for themselves.

“Our future model line-up will include performance-oriented and racetrack-capable cars full of energy. They’re just the start of what we know will be a fast and exhilarating journey.”

Named after Hyundai’s Namyang global research and development centre, the new N sub-brand will ultimately bring “the most thrilling winding-road fun to customers who truly love cars”, according to the company.

While exact details of future vehicles and models are being kept secret at this stage, the company says the sports-focused range will go beyond its existing range of cars by using lightweight materials and high-output powertrains derived from its WRC rally technology.

Earlier this year, Hyundai revealed its first N-badged concept with the rally-inspired RM15 arriving with a mid-mounted 224kW 2.0-litre engine, and while its layout and space-frame construction may seem far-fetched for the road, the concept’s powerplant is likely to be a glimpse at the first production car engine.

The RM15 also appeared on the Hyundai stand alongside the new i20 WRC rally car and the freshly unveiled Vision Gran Turismo car, which is just as futuristic as it appears under its skin.

Powering the low-slung track monster is a dual fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electricity to power an electric motor housed inside each wheel hub.

Hyundai says the powerplant is the first mass-produced cell of its kind and generates 500kW of instant power, but is backed up with another 150kW from its supercapacitor for even more thrilling performance.

Weight is kept to a bantam-like 972kg thanks to the battery-less fuel-cell system and extensive use of carbon-fibre construction. Performance and power-to-weight-ratio rival the most exotic supercars in the world, Hyundai claims.

Ground-effect aerodynamics and active air brakes help keep the N 2025 stick to the circuit, while its looks were inspired by aerodynamic design developed at the Muroc Dry Lake where pilots and astronauts train for space travel.

Despite being a fully electric vehicle, Hyundai says the concept has a soundtrack to appeal to petrol heads, with an evocative sound produced by the 200,000rpm air pump that supplies oxygen to the fuel cell, as well as a satisfying whine from the four drive motors, fuel-cell stacks and cooling system purging.

In Australia, Hyundai offers the i30 SR warm hatchback but the addition of a turbocharger and N badge could potentially introduce the company’s first true hot hatchback and a viable alternative to established European and Japanese options.

In the hot-hatch segment, Volkswagen has its Golf GTI, Honda is eyeing the market with its Civic Type-R, Holden has freshly introduced the Astra VXR and Renault attracts a strong following with its Megane RS, to name a handful.

After a first possible hot-hatchback i30 variant, Hyundai will be looking to roll its new brand out to other lines in a bid to bolster its new matured sports status to a more comprehensive range.

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