Hyundai moved quickly and decisively to establish a new performance division, one that could operate across their group of brands - Kia and Genesis - and as a result their products are closer than ever before to being perceived as legitimate rivals to the ‘establishment’.
As an example, there aren’t many people left that would not mention the i30N (the only real performance car to emerge so far from Hyundai’s N division) in the same breath as a Volkswagen Golf GTI or Renault Sport Megane. Offshoots of their efforts have spawned the Kia Stinger, a more attainable alternative to a BMW 340i.
Given their apparent ambition, it won’t be long before even loftier cars are attempted. Case in point, this conversation AutoExpress had with Thomas Schemera, the company’s Vice President of high-performance and motorsport, which seems to confirm suspicions that Hyundai indeed are working on a standalone halo model.
According to him, the launch of the i30N and the forthcoming Veloster N are but the first step in their master plan. A testing of the waters to get the public familiar with their work and abilities. What comes next is far more interesting.
He adds: “The whole idea is to strengthen the Hyundai brand, to bring more emotion. I can tell you Albert Biermann and myself are interested in hot things and have some ideas in the pipeline for a halo model - rest assured we are coming up with something.”
Biermann is Hyundai’s president of engineering since 2015 and former boss of BMW M. He is often cited as being personally responsible for the dynamic transformation of Hyundai and Kia cars of late along with being the catalyst for more driver-focused new initiatives within the Group.
There’s still some internal debate as to what this flagship performance model should be: a four-door super saloon, mid-engine supercar, or front-engine grand tourer, explains the UK publication. However, it seems fairly clear that this ‘halo’ model is understood to be vital to the galvanisation of the N brand’s commitment to high quality and high performance, and by extension the all cars from the Hyundai Group, a cornerstone of their larger strategy to move further upmarket.
What this translates to is a car that is, for all intents and purposes, definitely coming down the pipe. Although, in what form it will emerge is still very much a fluid concept for now. Given it’s predicted timeline, its post 2020 debut will most definitely mean it will feature some sort of electrification component to its powertrain.
Perhaps they will use that opportunity as a springboard to being one of the most visible leaders in hybrid high performance.