A Porsche-rivalling sports car is back on the agenda for Hyundai, with an all-new range of electric performance cars set to take the South Korean brand in a new direction.
Last year Hyundai's head of marketing, Thomas Schemera, all-but-ruled out a mid-engine sports car for the brand despite years of teasing the idea through its mid-engine ‘RM' concept cars. Schemera said a “super sports car” would be too expensive and not in line with Hyundai's reputation for affordable cars.
However, he did leave the door open at the time, saying the company hadn't made a final decision yet. Now Albert Biermann, executive technical advisor and the man credited with creating the N Performance division, has told Australian media that a sports car is still very much a possibility.
Biermann was in Australia for the annual Hyundai N Festival which featured a demonstration run of the RN22e Rolling Lab electric sports sedan that previews the N brand's move into battery performance. He explained that the introduction of the Ioniq 5 electric SUV and the growth of the N Performance sub-brand has meant the Hyundai brand has evolved to a point where a sports car could be accepted.
“Yeah, I think the brand is transforming to a higher level,” Biermann said. “I think we have a reality in the markets out there, we're selling €60,000 EVs now, which I think many of our sales people could not even imagine three years ago – and we cannot get enough of those cars. So I think we're getting closer to such a point. With N we've built a reputation that people will trust such a car if it comes from Hyundai N, they will think this is a nice car to have.”
While there are no details on what form this new sports car could take, Biermann indicated that the original plans for a mid-engine super sports car to rival the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini have changed and something inspired by the N Vision 74 concept car could be more likely.
“I'm not sure [what form a Hyundai sports car would take], but when I joined Hyundai this was a supercar concept and very modular – which could be combustion or hybrid or pure EV – but that was not the right timing,” Biermann explained. “At this point there is no plan to do something like this. You saw the N Vision 74, everyone [went] crazy for the design, of course now there's a lot of talk of such a car in a limited [volume].”
The obvious possibility for Hyundai would be to base the sports car off the ‘e-GMP' electric underpinnings that have been developed in the RN22e for the upcoming Ioniq 5 N and Ioniq 6 N models. This new performance version of e-GMP features dual-electric motors capable of 430kW of power and 740Nm of torque as well as a virtual gear shift system.
Given how well the N Vision 74 was received, a limited edition two-door sports car featuring an electrified powertrain seems like a likely option for the brand, even if Biermann couldn't confirm such a plan.
“I'm not so involved in those future things but of course there is talks of such projects, in very limited numbers and so on,” he said. “Will it come alive? The future will tell.”