Hyundai’s brand spanking new N Performance Division is getting set to unveil its first creation. The N Concept RN30, a high performance version of the next i30 is set to debut at this week’s Paris Motor Show. A new hot hatch is always cause for celebration, but before you get too excited, Hyundai has already thrown cold water on the project. Yes the new car will be faster than the current Veloster however the new car won’t be a competitor for the epic Focus RS. Their reasoning? Hyundai does not believe their customers are ready for such a machine. What?!?! Rookie mistake Hyundai.
“If we came up with a performance car on the highest level [now], it might be too fast for our customers and our dealerships.” Albert Beirmann, who is head of Hyundai’s N division told Autocar.
I can understand as a new player, not swinging for the fences right away. First you want to announce your presence with a quality product. Once established, then you proceed to make hotter versions. That’s business. But to justify it as “too fast” for your customers is a ginormous slap in the face. That is in essence telling them they can’t handle a Focus RS. Customers do not like being told what they can and can not handle. Perfect example, Dodge never once told anyone that 700+ horsepower was too much and the Hellcats became instant classics. Even if that is way too much power for the average person on average roads. Combine this with the death of the Genesis sports coupe and Hyundai might be sending the wrong message to potential RN30 customers. The Veloster looks like it goes like Hell, when in reality it is quite slow. It probably won’t be but these comments give a whiff of, “It’ll be fast enough, and when you’re ready we will give you something a little bit faster.” Which is fine, that is typically how these things go. But you don’t go out and actually say it.
Secondly, this notion of “our customers”. Like only people who’ve owned other Hyundais will be interested in Hyundai’s new hot hatch. This displays a complete lack of understanding how the hot hatch market works. People buy a hot hatch because they’re fast, fun and practical. Most of the time they gravitate to the car they find to be best combo of power, looks and price. The fact that it is a Hyundai, or a Ford, or whatever won’t matter. Build a great car and you will attract customers from all over, not just Hyundai owners. Which means, this notion of “too fast for our customers” goes right out the window.
Beirmann did admit that there is a possibility of an even faster hot hatch and such a thing would more than likely have awd. “For the base model, there is no all-wheel drive plan,” Biermann told Autocar. “We could create something at a very high-performance level, but first we need to test the waters and grow some fan base. If it goes up a lot, then obviously you need to have all-wheel drive.”
Look, the way Hyundai is going about it is actually very smart. Build a base platform, see how it does, then fix any issues with it before launching a full-fledged ultra-hot hatch. Too many times companies come out and try to take on the top dog only to fall flat on their face. However, Hyundai has promised hotter, faster versions of their cars for a while now. They promised they’d give us a faster harder core Genesis. I’ve also lost count how many times a hot version of the Veloster was touted. But this is new Hyundai and their new N Performance Division, and they have been spending a lot of time at the Nurburgring. Hopefully this means this time, things will turn out differently. Personally, I will be adopting a wait and see approach.
Given the benefit of the doubt, Hyundai’s honesty is refreshing, but methinks this may be too open. Time will tell. In any rate, I’m stoaked to see another hot hatch entering the North American Market. Too long were we denied the true hot hatches and now we seem to be in a golden age. Bring it on Hyundai, just maybe work on your marketing a little bit.