Name Appeal: Hyundai IMax N 'Drift Bus'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Hyundai Australia has tossed together a one-off model for the soul purpose of promoting its performance division, calling the creation the iMax N “Drift Bus.”

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Isn’t this basically the same concept as the Ford Supervan?” And you’d be right. But every sunset is essentially the same as the one that came before, and you don’t hear anybody complaining when they finally take time out to enjoy one.

It should be mentioned that your author has a strong affinity for both sleepers and vans — parking the iMax N right up his alley. Fear not, however, as everything possible is being done to ensure this doesn’t turn into a disgusting carousel of praise for a vehicle Hyundai doesn’t even plan on manufacturing and would never sell. But we should get started, because I cannot wait to tell you all about how much I love this square slice of automotive divinity.

The iMax N Drift Bus is based on the Hyundai van line sold all over the planet (except here) using different names. In Australia, it’s called the iMax and comes with a 2.5 liter CRDi engine. Clearly, that mill wasn’t going to be adequate for Drift Bus. The skunkworks team that Frankensteined this monster together replaced the stock powerplant for a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 with over 402 hp and 409 ft-lb of torque. Power is sent through an eight-speed auto directly to the rear wheels via a welded differential. While the weight of the van (about 4,800 pounds) required the front brakes to be uprated to four-piston calipers with larger (348 mm) discs, the rear drums remain stock.

Despite boasting some serious specs, the whole project seems to be a joke that spun wildly out of control. Hyundai Germany released “teaser images” of the N van on April Fools’ Day and the Aussie team just sort of ran with it. But the iMax N is not to be taken seriously just because it’s now real.

From Hyundai Australia:

Optimising cornering performance and handling, the iMax N ‘Drift Bus’ achieves perfect 50-50 weight distribution with eight people on-board, maximising the grin factor.

Inside, the iMax N looks the part, with an N steering wheel and N sports front seats, with the rear two bench seat rows also trimmed in matching suede and leather. If you’re going to go drifting with seven friends, you need to be perfectly comfortable and do it in style.

Ah yes, one of those performance vehicles that requires your extended family to climb aboard to achieve perfect weight distribution and suede seats for when they inevitably become sick after a few laps of the track. This thing is as serious as a heart attack.

Most of the van’s hardware was borrowed from the i30 N (steering wheel, tires, seats, etc) with Hyundai engineers having to perform some light fabrication for the vehicle’s aerodynamics. There’s even a couple of aftermarket GT-R parts on Drift Bus. But it all comes together uniformly. Even though it’s a semi-satirical love letter to Hyundai’s N division, care was obviously taken. Were it a little less insane, the iMax N could almost be a plausible production vehicle.

Wishful thinking, to be sure. For now, we’re just happy to see Hyundai’s N having a good time and the company being a creative. The iMax N will make its public debut at this weekend’s World Time Attack Challenge at the Sydney Motorsport Park — likely blowing tire smoke into the crowd.

[Images: Hyundai]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Garrett Garrett on Oct 20, 2019

    This needs to come to the US.

  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Oct 20, 2019

    Twenty-five years ago Matra-Renault built the Espace F1 Concept, which suggests that mankind has been sprinting in the wrong direction since.

  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
  • Formula m Alfa-Romeo had the great idea to unveil my all time favourite car at the world expo in Montreal. Never built or Sold in North America. The called it the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Never even sold in North America.