Hyundai Says N Performance Kicking Ass in Europe, Hopes for Same in the U.S.

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
hyundai says n performance kicking ass in europe hopes for same in the u s

Hyundai has spend the majority of its life as a value company. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not a role that comes with a lot of prestige or upmarket appeal. It’s ready to grow up. However, for an automaker, part of growing up includes a performance line. Because you can’t be a serious carmaker if you don’t have an iconic brooch for specially designed vehicles — and the emblem that sporting Hyundais will wear is the mighty N.

Last year, Hyundai revealed the i30 N for the European market. This caused an uproar in North America because it appeared as if the company was producing something created for the sole purpose of besting the industry standard for hot hatchbacks — Volkswagen’s GTI. Fortunately, the South Korean brand decided to throw us a juicy bone by unveiling the Veloster N a short time later.

The model takes the i30 N’s 271-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and places it inside of a slightly different (more aggressive) body. Hyundai is confident it will be a success and, based on how things are playing out in Europe, it has every right to feel that way.

“Initial sales of N products are going beyond expectations,” said Thomas Schemera, head of Hyundai’s high-performance vehicle division told Automotive News. “Almost 3,000 units of the i30 N were sold in the first half of 2018 in Europe.”

While those numbers aren’t enough to best the performance variant of the VW Golf, they’re also nothing to sneeze at. However, the warm reception could just the result of a much-hyped and new model.

We think that sells the i30 N a bit short, though. Reviews have been exceptionally positive. It’s the Elantra of your dreams, offering solid performance at an attractive price. With computer-controlled exhaust backfires and more road noise, its more hardcore than the comparatively plush GTI. But it’s also said to more livable than something like the Ford Focus RS.

Former BMW performance car engineer and brainchild for Hyundai’s N cars Albert Biermann, is confident sales will remain strong through the rest of the year. “We can’t build enough,” he said, noting that the Veloster N will be even sportier than its European sibling. “We have a six- to seven-month waiting list on the car basically everywhere.”

The Veloster is said to be roughly 88 pounds lighter than the i30, while still offering the same hardware and 155 mph top speed. It’s a great value for performance enthusiasts on a budget, but they may find themselves overpaying if Hyundai can’t meet demand in the United States. Dealers love to mark-up difficult-to-acquire models, so the Veloster N could come at an unnecessary premium.

That would, most likely, place realistic transactions beyond the $30,000 cap we assumed Hyundai was shooting for. How much higher will be dependent upon how many examples the automaker can get onto dealer lots. European customers ordering today will already have to wait a full year to get their i30 N. If Americans are forced to endure a similar delay, those dealer markups could get out of hand pretty quickly.

While Hyundai isn’t going to limit production of the high-performance models, it also doesn’t gain much from bending over backwards to avoid shortages. In fact, it might be in its best interest to keep the Veloster N slightly out of reach to build mystique and focus on giving less-serious models N-inspired enhancements. Upgrades like that have a higher profit margin than a competitively priced performance model with all the trimmings. However, people won’t be clamoring for those items if the top-tier N models aren’t visible on the roads and popular in the media.

[Image: Hyundai]

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6 of 12 comments
  • Dougjp Dougjp on Aug 20, 2018

    Pay a premium for a Veloster? No, not any model. Why didn't they just bring the Elantra GT (i30N)? Then make an Elantra Sport N (sedan). Much wider acceptance. I would trade my Sport, I would never even look at a Veloster.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Aug 21, 2018

      I too would love an Elantra N. I was a big fan of the Integra and Civic Type R sedans.

  • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Aug 20, 2018

    "Hyundai has spend the majority of its life as a value company." WTF? So has Lexus. So has Mercedes-Benz. So has Ferrari. ALL of those brands represent high value cars. I'm not sure where you learned English, but "value" doesn't mean "low priced".

    • See 1 previous
    • Stuki Stuki on Aug 20, 2018

      I'm sure the first thing people think of when they hear "value" company, is a $2mill Bugatti with a $1mill diamond affixed to it's steering wheel..... Noone whose main shopping criterion is value for money, shops the Ferrari aisle; no matter how contrived a case it is conceivably possible to make for F being a "value" company.

  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 I'd love a well preserved Mark VII LSC with the HO 5.0 for a weekend cruiser. Its design aged better than both the VI and VIII. Although I'd gladly take the latter as well (quad cam V8 and wrap around interior FTW)
  • Teddyc73 The Mark VIII was the first car I lusted over as a young new auto enthusiast. Still think it's a beauty after all these years.
  • Art Vandelay wish They’d do an SS version of the Bolt. We need more electric hot hatches and this is a clean enough design that it would look good
  • ToolGuy Your Jeep is too studly.
  • ToolGuy I had a point to make, but can't remember if it related to Part XXVIIII or Part XXIX.