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Hyundai to sport ‘N’ brand

Capital N: Hyundai’s ‘N’ brand will be used for the technology on its i20 rally car and future high-performance production cars.

Future high-performance Hyundais to come under company’s new ‘N’ banner

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Hyundai logo13 Dec 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

HYUNDAI has confirmed it will follow the lead of a number of Japanese and European competitors by offering its very own ‘N’ high-performance sub-brand in the coming years.

Details for the go-fast division are scarce, but the South Korean car-maker confirmed development of the sub-brand as it announced its full i20 team line-up for the World Rally Championship (WRC) that kicks off in Monte Carlo next month.

Hyundai says the N stands for the company’s Namyang research and development centre south of Seoul that has collaborated extensively with Hyundai Motorsport on the development of the i20 WRC car.

Hyundai said in a statement that the N brand would bring together the company’s “technology and innovation with the learning from motorsport to provide a new experience for customers”.

There is no word from Hyundai about which of its models will get the N treatment, but the existence of the i20 rally car suggests that the company’s B-segment player could be the first cab off the rank.

Some of Hyundai’s sports models, such as the Genesis coupe that is due in Australia next year and the Veloster, could also be in line for N performance tweaks, while the i30 hatch is also be a possibility.

Hyundai has not confirmed whether N-branded models will be built in right-hand drive, meaning a local berth remains uncertain for now, but the popularity of performance-honed passenger vehicles in Australia means it is likely to at least be considered.

Hyundai motor company Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas expressed keen interest in bringing any N road cars Down Under as soon as they become available.

“This is a performance car market, pure and simple - not just for V8s but for hot hatches as well. We're a country of driving enthusiasts like no other, and we also happen to be Hyundai's largest RHD market, so we'd hope any N car would be engineered for RHD. That would be the prime limiting factor to market entry.”

Hyundai currently offers performance upgrades with SR variants of three of its most popular models – the Accent and i30 hatch and Veloster 2+1 door coupe.

The i30 warm hatch is powered by a 129kW/209Nm naturally aspirated 2.0-litre GDi engine, and priced from $27,990 plus on-road costs competes directly with Holden’s 132kW/230Nm Holden Cruze SRi-V ($26,490) and the 140kW/240Nm Nissan Pulsar SSS ($29,690).

Shortly after the arrival of the i30 SR, Hyundai launched the 103kW/167Nm Accent SR in October this year, priced competitively from $18,990.

The Veloster SR Turbo arrived in August last year, boosting the performance credentials of its quirky coupe with a 150kW/265Nm twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-litre engine and a 0-100km/h sprint time in the range of seven seconds.

Hyundai joins a host of global car-makers that have a performance tuning arm, including European brands Mercedes-Benz (AMG), BMW (M), Audi (RS) Volvo (Polestar) and Renault (RenaultSport) as well as Japanese car-makers Nissan (Nismo), Subaru (STI) and Mitsubishi (Ralliart).

US-owned Australian car-maker Holden’s performance arm HSV has committed to developing retuned vehicles for the foreseeable future despite its parent company withdrawing from local production in 2017, while Ford Performance Vehicles will shut its operation next year.

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