Hyundai launched its first high-performance road car only five years ago, when the i30 N hot hatch arrived in 2017. It was a revelation, immediately shaking up the hot hatch market and giving established names a run for their money.
Now the brand has set its sights higher. Much higher.
The brand made a splash last week, revealing its stunning and state-of-the-art N Vision 74 as well as the RN22e “rolling labs” at the Busan Motor Show. But it was what the company didn’t show that promises to take the South Korean company to the next level, at least in terms of performance cars.
The first bullet point line of the company’s press release announcing the two ‘rolling labs’ simply read: “Hyundai’s first full electric high-performance model IONIQ 5 N to be launched in 2023.”
This has been Hyundai’s worst-kept secret for several years, with executives openly hinting that such a car was coming.
Although it has been confirmed for production, Hyundai hasn’t actually confirmed any details yet but that doesn’t mean we don’t know what to expect.
The Ioniq 5 sits on the same ‘e-GMP’ platform as the Kia EV6 eGT, which has been confirmed and will produce a whopping 430kW of power and 740Nm of torque from its dual electric motors. So we can safely assume that the Ioniq 5 N will punch out those same numbers, but we also know it will likely get a unique chassis and suspension tune to ensure it retains the N brand’s trademark ‘corner rascal’ driving dynamics.
Test mules have been spotted on the Nurburgring with increasing frequency in recent months, so it’s another safe assumption that the Ioniq 5 N will be a track-capable electric car. Notably the RN22e was fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, rather than the eco-friendly rubber that comes standard on the EVs usually.
If the Ioniq 5 N does pack a 430kW/740Nm punch that means it will have genuine sports car levels of performance. For context, a Porsche 911 Turbo makes 427kW and 750Nm, while it would also out-muscle the likes of the BMW M3 Competition, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the Porsche Taycan 4S.
Of course, there’s a big difference between having the same power and torque outputs as your rivals and producing a car that is a well-rounded competitor, so it’s too early to say if Hyundai’s first electric performance car will be a genuine sports car. But, the point is, the potential is there.
The RN22e clearly indicates the brand is already plotting an Ioniq 6 N, so there’s clearly more electrified performance in the future. This could be the turning point where Hyundai stops competing with just hot hatches and becomes a fully-fledged rival to the likes of BMW’s M Division, Mercedes’ AMG and even, dare I say it, Porsche.
That’s a bold prediction and relies on the Ioniq 5 N (and Ioniq 6 N) living up to the standards laid down by the i30 N, i20 N and others, but given how quickly those models have become part of the fabric of the performance market, it would be unwise to dismiss Hyundai’s chances.
What do you think? Can Hyundai become a high-performance electric brand?