Hyundai launches N high-performance sub-brand

10 Dec, 2013 12:03pm Tom Philips

New N brand to use knowledge gained from Hyundai i20 WRC project

Hyundai has announced a new performance ‘N’ sub-brand, which will be used ‘on a range of future high-performance road cars.’

‘N’ takes its name from Namyang, where Hyundai’s Korean R&D centre is based, and where the firm’s motorsport team began life.

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However, the new road cars will be developed at the brand’s new motorsport facility in Alzenau, near Frankfurt in Germany, alongside its new i20 WRC rally team, which will enter two cars in next year’s WRC.

Hyundai refuses to expand on any further details about the ‘N’ models, although a spokesperson confirmed that the first car to feature the new badge is very likely to be based on the i20, to reinforce the link between the race and road cars.

WRC team principal, Michel Nandan, added that although his team will enter the current i20 in next year’s WRC, it has started to work on the new road car, which arrives in late 2014. It’s likely that this date would coincide with the arrival of the first ‘N’ model, too.

He added that the ‘N’ models are likely to start off giving a mild performance hike, but with potential to do more:

“From what I know, N will start with not really an extreme version, but in the future, we can do even more extreme models.”

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A quick i20 would be a rival to the Ford Fiesta ST, and use a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, again to reinforce the link between the race and road car. However, it’s yet to be confirmed whether the ‘N’ models would be built in volume, as the Fiesta ST is, or in limited numbers, as Citroen Racing’s special DS3 models have been.

The ‘N’ models are likely to focused on the European market at first, where Hyundai is keen to bolster its brand image.

The company has an ambitious growth plan to boost its European market share from 3.5 per cent today, to five per cent by 2020. The plan, called Product Momentum 2017, will see 22 new products and derivatives launched in the next four years.