Once a ‘family’ brand now it’s attracting petrolheads
On the outskirts of Ipswich, the changing face of an automotive uprising was on show.
Sunday saw hundreds converge at Queensland Raceway for the Hyundai N Festival.
Historically the raciest thing about a Hyundai was dependant on the underwear selected by the passengers.
Yet the brand continues to evolve.
More than 20 years ago they produced the bargain basement Excel, progressing to rock-solid mainstream sedans and hatches, and now there are sporting derivatives making an impact aided by performance guru Albert Biermann who was poached from BMW.
Look no further than the staunch fans who were trackside at the weekend. More than $3000 worth of ‘N’ merchandise was sold by 9am.
About 100 drivers paid $50 to push their cars to the limit – $20 secured the spot and the remainder was for a one-day racing licence.
Featuring heavily in the garages was the i30 N hatch, which has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, that can be bought new from the showroom for about $45,500 drive-away. Fastback versions were also there, which cost $1500 more.
They came from all walks of life. Young, old, male, female, families, tech-heads and a sprinkling of bogans. Not your typical motorsport crowd, but a passionate one nonetheless.
Brisbane’s Matt Whitlock was among the early adopters. His i30 N hatch sets itself apart with an orange stripe down the centre.
“I have grown up around fast cars. My parents have always been into cars so I grew up around all sorts of weird and wonderful things,” he said.
“I had been looking for a fast car and at the time I had a mach 7 Golf R, and I just wasn’t enjoying it. Then I heard all the hype about the ‘N’ car and I took one for a test drive and as quickly as I possibly could I put a deposit down and sold the Golf.
“The N gave me everything that I wanted from the Golf but didn’t deliver.”
While still joining his VW owner group friends, Mr Whitlock attends track days and has seen the attendance of N cars grow.
“The (brand) perception is rapidly changing,” he said.
“I had a mate who bought a Focus RS and the last track day I let him drive it and he was blown away with how good the car was.
“For Hyundai to get this right as their first N car is pretty bloody good.”
Attracting plenty of attention were two new offerings coming this year. The i20 N is forecast to draw new enthusiasts to Hyundai with pricing estimates of between $30,000-$35,000.
Tipping the scales at just 1250kg, it’s all about power to weight. Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder that generates 150kW of power and 275Nm of torque.
It’s fun, fast and extremely adept on the racetrack and forecast to be in showrooms first the first half of this year.
Sporting a camouflage wrap was the next iteration of the i30 Fastback N which will feature an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – currently the i30 N is only available with a six-speed manual. Expected before mid-year, there will be external design tweaks as well as lightweight alloy wheels for additional weight savings.
Following in the tyre prints will be the Kona N, the first SUV in the performance line-up that will be here by the end of 2021 also featuring the 2.0-litre turbo engine with the new automatic transmission.