Hyundai has never been a brand I thought of for performance cars until recently. I am most familiar with Porsche, BMW, Alfa Romeo and even Honda, having owned all of them in the past, but Hyundai never came to mind. Until now. To show you what I mean here's a quick look at what is helping me change my thinking to possibly buying an Elantra N when they are released later in 2021:
New Hyundai Elantra - At the Michelin Pilot Challenge Watkins Glen International
I first got a hint that Hyundai was up to some good things when seeing a Veloster N displayed at the Sahlen's IMSA Six Hours of the Glen race a couple of years ago. I took a look at the car and was impressed but then went on to dream of owning an Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio, powered by a 505 HP Ferrari derived twin turbo V6. (Which I ended up buying in September 2019) I needed the utility of a 4 door sedan to carry the grandkids but wanted a wicked fast, good handling car when by myself. The Veloster was not big enough for my needs.
I also remember seeing articles in the major car magazines a few years back announcing the somewhat shocking news that Hyundai had persuaded Albert Biermann to join them. Yes, that Albert Biermann - the engineer who made the BMW M cars earn their stripes. Hyundai appointed him President and Head of R&D Division of Hyundai/ Kia Motors and assigned him to making fast performance cars in 2018. That did get my attention and I remember his name being mentioned often at the launch of the Kia Stinger. Obviously he had a lot to do with that project. ( See attached for his credentials- very impressive)
But back at the drawing board Albert and company were working on developing the 'N' Brand of performance cars for Hyundai. These cars would be fast, but affordable. That is a tall order. First came the Veloster hot hatch, then very recently the Kona N and any day now, the Elantra N. At the same time they were developing the N Line cars for the lineup which are tamer versions of the N car concept. (For example the N Line Elantra and the N Line Sonata.)
The Elantra N is so very new there are no real world extended tests or driving impressions published. The few quick reviews and driving impressions I've seen on YouTube are promising. Everything said so far is that this car is the real deal at a fraction of the cost of the brands I mention above. We will have to wait and see, but I have an inkling that this Elantra N will make a big mark in the enthusiast world and perhaps be the start of a new generation of Nthusiasts. Like the Alfisti that drool over classic GTV's, or Porsche Aficionados that dream of owning a 356, or Beamers that wish they could own a 70's 2002; the Elantra N and the Veloster N may become the new cult cars that my grandkids will dream of!
Why is this happening? In this world of rapid EV development, and predictions of the future death of the ICE vehicle, how is it that Hyundai is bringing cars like the Veloster N, Kona N and Elantra N to market?
I think they are very smart, that's why. Like Honda and Datsun in the late '60s and early '70's, Hyundai recognizes what people want. Hyundai is creating a buzz, they are energizing the consumers with an exciting product that will get them to come into the showroom to see what the excitement is. And even for those that don't care about performance cars, the fact that Hyundai is winning races says they are bringing technology from the race track into their entire car line paying dividends in terms of reliability, durability and quality. They are spot on IMO.
And now here's a teaser report on the new Elantra N that should be on sale by the end of 2021. Watch out Honda Si, Volkswagen GTI and Subaru WRX!
Hyundai is Gunning For Honda Click here to see how!
To wrap up, here's a few pictures I have from seeing the Veloster N and Elantra N TCR cars racing at Watkins Glen back in July. They are currently leading the series and they just came off an impressive 1, 2,3 finish at Laguna Seca, which is Hyudai USA's home track.