Rap­ture

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

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.

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