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Hyundai N proves compelling halo effect

The Korean giant’s performance brand is attracting customers new to the brand

16 Dec 2021

HYUNDAI’S performance brand known simply as ‘N’, appears to have been a big success for the Korean brand. 

 

The initial success of the i30 N at its 2019 launch has translated into a strong brand awareness among enthusiasts. A combination of pricing, big-name engineering heft in the form of BMW M’s Albert Bierman and the purist vibe of a manual-only car also came with unheard of warranty coverage should an owner choose to put the car on a track, as long as it isn’t a competitive event.

 

The i30 N hatchback facelift was quickly followed by the i30-based Kona N SUV, the smaller i20 N hot hatch, and the i30 Sedan N. A key difference between the 2019 launch was the introduction at the i30 hatch’s facelift of the long-awaited eight-speed twin-clutch automatic, a transmission already successfully doing duty in the Hyundai Santa and Kia Sorento diesel range.

 

GoAuto spoke to the local arm’s General Manager of Product, Andrew Tuitahi, at the launch of the i30 N Sedan.

 

“We view N as one of the most significant tools we have to improve the quality of our sales. If we look back over the last three years, we can see that our trim mix, our level 3s and 4s – the upper-level cars – has improved,” Mr Tuitahi explained.

 

“We used to sell somewhere around 25 per cent last year we were able to bump that to 31 perc ent. This year on the back of a couple of other programs, but definitely bolstered by N, we're up to 50 per cent. So, half the cars we are selling are the level 3s and level 4s, our Elites, Premiums, Highlanders and the like.

 

“So, N definitely plays a role in that brand perception, customer acceptance and definitely influences the customer's decision to spend a little bit more money on their Hyundai,” he added.

 

The last two years have seen the N brand work its way from the successful hot hatch and its almost-instant cult following, to a second-tier N Line range, such as the Sonata, Kona, i30 and Tuscon, each with their own specific implementation. 

 

Asked whether N is having the desired impact and attracting a broader audience, Tuitahi was emphatic.

 

“We have to say yes. When we were looking at the metrics of who's buying Ns specifically, we see that a lot of them are new to the brand. It's probably likely, but it's hard to measure if they're coming in on N but buying something else. But definitely, people who are buying N are new,” he said. 

 

“We would consider those people to be influencers within their social circles. Typically, the car guys are the ones people come to for advice. I think if we can win them over and have them thinking that Hyundais are fun to drive, something that you'd be proud to own, technologically advanced, all of those perception metrics that we look at. If we can influence them, we're confident that they'll influence their friends and family,” he surmised.

 

Hyundai’s approach with N buyers has been high on engagement, with N owner’s events organised by the brand, including an end of year Festival of N at Winton Raceway the weekend before Christmas attracting 250 owners with their cars.

 

“I think the way we've been engaging, there's a level of freedom that we're giving customers with the cars that I don't think you'd be getting at many other events. In a lot of ways, it's how we're showing confidence, showing faith in the product, letting customers drive their car at a controlled event, honouring their warranty. We have full confidence that the cars can be used on a fast circuit like SMP and be reliable and durable. And be fast," he concluded.


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