There have been rumblings about what's next for Hyundai's N performance brand, and its chief has just dropped a big hint: a souped-up electric vehicle. Maybe an Ioniq Electric N hatchback? Sure sounds like it.
Automotive News got Albert Biermann, head of vehicle testing and high-performance development for Hyundai and Kia, to spill the beans. "When we think of cars after 2021 for N, I think we cannot avoid electrification," he said. "We will have an EV sooner or later. It's just a matter of timing."
Hyundai's N brand is still in its relative infancy. The Veloster N will be the only model available in the U.S., and it doesn't go on sale until later this year. It joins the Europe-only i30 Fastback N and i30 N hatchback, the former of which debuts in October at the Paris auto show and hits showrooms in Europe by the end of the year. Biermann said a fourth N model was already in his long-term budget and could be an SUV, which aligns with previous reports suggesting it could be either a 247-horsepower Kona N or a 271-hp turbocharged Tucson N. An electric N would be a surprise fifth model, and it could happen soon.
"There's a car within the next two or three months that we probably have a chance to show to Vice Chairman Chung (Eui-sun) and our top management," Biermann told Automotive News. "Depending on what is the current mood and situation, we might get a spontaneous 'OK, go for it.'"
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric boasts a 136 MPGe rating and a driving range of 124 miles from its 28.0 kWh battery. But it makes only 118 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torque, so an N version would presumably upgrade those latter figures. By way of comparison, the Veloster N, which goes on sale later this year, delivers 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the specs on the standard Veloster are 147 hp and 132 lb-ft for the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 201 hp and 195 lb-ft for the 1.6-liter turbo-four that powers the Turbo model. Biermann suggests an electric N would have an improved battery, bigger motor and inverter with more power.
If Biermann's abbreviated timeline projection holds true, it sounds like we'll know more soon.