Hyundai N commits to affordable petrol performance

Hyundai is looking to the future with its N brand, on the back of two zero-emissions concept cars, but it hasn't forgotten about its present.

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Hyundai has committed to developing a range of electric N Performance cars, but it’s not abandoning cars like the i20 N just yet.

Till Wartenberg, head of N brand management, says Hyundai isn’t calling it quits on affordable combustion-engine models in spite of its electric push.

“Of course Hyundai wants to be very sustainable. This is what the world needs, but as long as market demand, customers, and regulations leave it possible, we’re not going to say goodbye to the combustion engine yet,” Mr Wartenberg said.

“The transition from combustion-engine vehicles to battery-electric vehicles has already begun and there’s no turning back, but we have thousands of N owners all around the globe who effectively helped us build the N brand, so we’re not about to abandon them or anyone else who wants an affordable performance car,” he said.

That’s not to say the N division isn’t forging ahead with high-performance electric cars. We already know it has the Ioniq 5 N ready for a 2023 global launch, and the Ioniq 6 N will likely follow in 2024.

Let’s not forget the two quite stunning ‘Rolling Labs’ concepts revealed in Busan, South Korea today, the RN22e and N Vision 75.

You get the feeling the company is on a fast track to produce some epic performance EVs, and there are no boundaries (outside of regulations and chip shortages) from a division that’s just seven years old. It’s quite a remarkable feat.

But Mr Wartenberg is openly passionate about current N owners – everything from the i30 N from its inaugural production year of 2015 to the very latest i30 Sedan N and Kona N, and everything in between.

“We’re actually really proud of the people who are driving N cars now, and don’t only want to offer them only electrified high-performance Ns from tomorrow. They love the N cars they’re driving now and I’m sure they’ll love those N cars coming afterwards,” he said.

“We still want the next version of N cars to be affordable, even if they are at a different price point, and we think it’s only fair to the enthusiasts to offer some sort of car they can use during this transition period.”

Given the architect of Hyundai’s N division was Albert Biermann of BMW M fame, we believe there’s a playbook to develop even more focused N models in the future – including EVs. While not exactly confirming such a plan, Mr Wartenberg certainly seemed open to it.

“At this point in time I’d say we’re quite flexible, and then with the N22e and Vision 74 – there’s potential to develop a pure N car that’s not an extension of a series model. This has to be seen,” he said.

MORE: Hyundai RN22e and N Vision 74 concepts revealed

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Anthony Crawford
Anthony Crawford is a Senior Road Tester at CarExpert.

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