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N division keen to follow i30 success with hot SUV

Strong sales have convinced Hyundai's N brand to make a start on additional models

By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Buoyed by customer demand for the i30 N and its sibling, the new i30 Fastback N, Hyundai's executives are looking ahead to new possibilities afforded by the current lineup. Rumours of an i20 N appear to have gained momentum, which suggests the Volkswagen Polo GTI might soon have a new rival to worry about. But - perhaps inevitably - it seems like the next car out of the N division blocks will be a crossover.

"We believe an SUV would be a good next step for the N brand," remarked Gyoo Heon Choi, boss of high performance vehicle planning, when quizzed by PH this week. It certainly makes sense from a business perspective, and it needn't be a complicated process, either. It's easy to imagine Hyundai's 2.0-litre T-GDi petrol being integrated into the Tucson's all-wheel drive underpinnings and Biermann has plenty of experience engineering SUV chassis from his BMW days (a feather in his cap the firm will have noted when employing him).

What about an i30 Tourer N, to fight it out with the Golf R estate and the like? Apparently not, according to Klaus Koster, Hyundai's high performance vehicles boss, who explained that Biermann believes, "it's too much playing around" with the N formula, despite some engineers having mooted such a model.

"We believe the Tourer is too family oriented to be an N car," said Choi, before Koster emphasised that the wagon was mostly focused on the German market, where estate sales still run high, so investing in an N model wouldn't be financially viable - for now, anyway. "If there is a growing demand for this area, however, then I personally could think that we could consider this," he added.

Most interesting is what the company has up its long-term sleeve, in the form of a hotly anticipated all-new halo car. "It must be a blast and prioritise fun above all else", suggested Koster. Choi intimated that hybrid power might feature in future N models given the requirement for a power output beyond the 275hp provided by the i30 N Performance.

Either way, Hyundai N seems especially keen to keep the ball rolling at maximum speed. Koster said the company "has never been in a situation where we've had people waiting six months for a new car, so it's a new thing for us". He added: "It's not like this demand was only at the i30 N's launch, either - we're still adding to back orders today. There have been 2,000 orders for Fastback N since November."

The brand expects to easily dwarf the 9,000 i30 N orders of last year in 2019, which is also the year it's bidding to win the World Rally Championship with a certain Sebastien Loeb... Quite an achievement from a sports division that's not even entered its toddler years yet. And comfortably enough to convince those in charge that it's worthy of continuing investment.

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