commitment to this new development.
Most people expect N to base its first road car on the baby i20 that’s also the base for the WRC program but that could be wide of the mark, as there is an allnew i20 coming in 2015.
The likely pricetag points to a car that’s more like a Ford Focus RS — say, either the i30 hatch or Veloster coupe.
In any case, the N car is expected to have a tweaked turbo engine and all-wheel drive, not just a basic dress-up kit of wheels and spoilers.
The aim is to create a car to build the same sort of cult following as a Subaru WRX or Mitsubsihi Lancer Evo.
“We have no information yet about when the first car will be launched in Europe so, as yet, we have no idea when it might be available for Australia,” Thomas says.
“We expect it to be quite a serious performance car.”
The N development is great news for Hyundai in Australia, which has been structured and staffed to push for second place in local showrooms behind only Toyota inside five years.
Meanwhile Hyundai is pushing ahead with the stealthy Veloster test car.
“It’s a skunk works project,” Thomas says. “That’s the Australian engineering team looking at how we might modify the Veloster with a possible tuning package. It’s an exhaust system, wheels-andtyres work, and high-end suspension. It also has a Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential.
“We think there is an opportunity for that car but it has to make sense from a financial point of view. It’s also about durability, because it’s got to stand up to the demands of everyday use and not compromise the warranty.”
Thomas admits the Veloster project could be overtaken by the N division but says it’s been worthwhile work.
“N is likely to be more extreme than what we’ve been looking at. But we’re always looking for ways to move forward in Australia,” he says.