By on August 20, 2018

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. 

2018 Hyundai i30 N - Image: Hyundai

“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.

hyundai i30 n

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.

Hyundai Veloster N

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.

Hyundai Veloster N

[Image: Hyundai]

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12 Comments on “Hyundai Says N Performance Kicking Ass in Europe, Hopes for Same in the U.S....”

  • avatar

    I’m glad Hyundai is doing this. I feel like this makes up for the loss of the Focus ST. Accent N next?

    • 0 avatar

      Someone’s gotta step up and make cars like this that don’t look like a transformer that was run over or have VW baggage (Hyundai baggage is nothing in comparison IMO).

      In a world of cross overs, CVTs, discontinued Focus/Fiesta STs, Hyundai brings on Biermann and is stepping the F up. Please go buy Veloster Ns and G70 manuals!

    • 0 avatar


      The i30 Fastback-N is completing late stage testing and hopefully, Hyundai decides to bring it here (will make up for not getting the i30N); the Veloster is still too weird-looking.

      Bierrman’s team has been working on N-variants of the Tucson and Kona and likely will see 1 of them make it to production, if not both.

      Biermann is looking to do a BEV N-model (can see it being more an N-variant of the Kona EV than the Ioniq EV).

      And then, there’s the dedicated N-model which won’t be based on any Hyundai (likely will be a mid-ship hatch, but could be a conventional coupe).

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Hyundai has provided a textbook map for a company to go from building cheap garbage to one that is a serious player now. In 30 years they’ve gone from essentially American Motors to a much bigger player. Their one advantage was that they had their superb engineering and shipbuilding companies that afforded them the cashflow to survive their move upmarket.

  • avatar
    John R

    This thing will come with an anti-lag system…FROM THE FACTORY.

  • avatar

    The i30N has a lot of suspension and chassis differences that put it over and above the GTI. Maybe a little too complex ala the Focus RS. The Veloster isn’t close to a GTI let alone the i30N.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m no expert but maybe it has something to do with the fact that Veloster has earned a brand reputation over here as a sporty car, while the Accent has always been an economy car, albeit with a recent decent GT treatment.

      Also, Americans don’t tend to like hatchbacks very much, GTI excepted, but that’s a special case. There’s only one GTI, and Hyundai might not want to directly go against it here.

      I too would much rather have an Accent N 4 door hatchback then a weird and boyish 3 door Veloster, but I can see why they did what they did. Hopefully it sells and we’ll see more N models.

    • 0 avatar

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

  • avatar

    “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”.

    • 0 avatar

      Stop that. You know exactly what he meant.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

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