Given all the vehicles in Hyundai Australia’s portfolio, you might figure that the very boxy but very practical iMax people carrier would show the least possible aptitude for going around corners sideways in a plume of vaporised rubber. It’s the natural assumption.
However, in spite of this (or maybe because of it), the South Korean automaker’s high performance N division - specifically, its skunkworks team within HMCA - has spent some time converting one into what they term as a ‘Drift Bus’. Supposedly, the inspiration for this idea came from Hyundai Germany, who posted a fake image of an iMax N as an April Fool’s joke.
That said, here we are 6 months on, and the iMax N Drift Bus is no joke - well, not entirely. It’s real, and it loves to kick its square tail out, as is the proper track etiquette.
Now, the idea for an overpowered van isn’t exactly novel. Hyundai is just the latest to experiment with it. Prior to this, there was the Ford Transit Supervan and the utterly bonkers 600kW V10-powered Renault Espace F1.
By contrast, the iMax N’s powerplant produces a far more modest 300kW and 555Nm (or thereabouts; Hyundai is a bit hazy on the exact figure) from a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 sitting in place of where the 2.5-litre CRDi turbodiesel would have been, sending drive to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic. And we’re assuming the latter is the same ZF unit used in the Stinger. There’s also a mechanical ‘corner carving’ rear differential thrown into the mix.
Surprisingly, instead of binning all the interior fixtures in the pursuit of the lowest weight possible, the Aussie N team left the iMax’s 8-seat capacity intact, meaning you can bring a bunch of mates (or pit crew) along as you do donuts with the windows down and sunroof open, slowly choking them in airborne tyre particles. Hankooks, probably.
That engine is far more potent than what the iMax was designed to cope with, so the engineers added bunch of extra go-fast kit to ensure the structure and suspension were up to snuff. First of all, electronically-controlled dampers were fitted as were high performance brakes and 19-inch alloys from the i30N.
A bespoke aerokit was created just for the Drift Bus as well, including a new front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser and bumper, and finally a rear spoiler with integrated third brake light. Inside, there a chunky N sport steering wheel, power-adjustable N sport seats with suede and leather bolsters, and sportier N seats for the 2 rows of rear passengers, behind which there is a boot boasting 842-litres of cargo capacity - very handy for carrying the spare tyre(s) you’ll inevitably need.
No, the Drift Bus isn’t a production model, nor are we even sure if it’s even street legal. That said, Hyundai Australia is keen to show it off having signed it up for the World Time Attack Challenge in three different disciplines: Clubsprint Class, Flying 500, and Drifting Club.