Hyundai Motor has established itself as a hyper-ambitious juggernaut with a range of zero-emission high-performance ‘N’ halo products on the way – as previewed by the RN22e and N Vision 74 concepts.
Yet when it comes to finding inspiration, the company’s global CEO Jaehoon “Jay” Chang cites something a little more traditional in execution – the iconic Porsche 911.
We were fortunate to have a quick chat with Mr Chang, one of the most powerful people in the car industry given Hyundai Motor’s sheer size, at a recent launch event for the new Ioniq 6 electric sedan.
While he seemed understandably proud of the products the company was working on – imagine the secrets he must be privy to – he was equally quick to cite the evergreen German performance icon as something he holds on a pedestal.
“To build a car like the Porsche 911 not only takes decades but also requires an unshakable commitment to improving something most people already believe to be the perfect sports car,” he told us.
“Sticking to one design and not changing stuff all the time is what makes that car so special. The 911 doesn’t change. I’m not sure anyone can ever emulate something like the 911. It’s almost a perfect form, until the next one comes along.”
Porsche has been building cars ever since the 356 was road certified in 1948, which effectively led to the first 911 in 1964. It’s been honing the 911 each and every year since into something that just gets better with each generation.
Mr Chang continued: “Hyundai Motor is a much younger company but with no less ambition to build great cars which are also affordable to a much wider market. That’s what the N sub-brand is doing but again, it’s only seven years old this year, which is remarkable to me.
“We currently have more than 14,500 engineers employed at Hyundai who are working around the clock to develop the best possible cars in their respective classes irrespective of benchmarks.
“I’m not saying we will ever build a car to rival the Porsche 911, but if you look at the two Rolling Lab concepts we have revealed this week, the RN22e and N Vision 74, you’ll get an idea of we’re we are going in terms of sustainable high-performance cars,” he concluded.
The RN22e uses the company’s all-electric E-GMP platform, while featuring the ‘Streamliner’ design of the Ioniq 6, but with claimed racetrack performance credentials its goal.
Meanwhile the N Vision 74 is a hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid that pays homage to the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Hyundai Pony Coupe from 1974. It sends over 500kW of power and 900Nm of torque to the rear wheels.
Before these wild concepts mature though, Hyundai will launch its first fully-electric high-performance N car, the much-anticipated Ioniq 5 N that sits on 275/35 rubber on all four corners, in 2023. From there in 2024 expect to see a full-fat N version of the Ioniq 6.
And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.