Motorsport provides a fun, challenging and highly-visible avenue for car development, and it’s a well-worn path Hyundai will undertake for the first model from its recently-established N division for high-performance cars.
Hyundai’s Golf-rivaling i30 hatchback, to be sold here as the Elantra GT, will be the first model to receive the N treatment. And to ensure it’s convincing, Hyundai will enter two virtually production-ready examples in the 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours in late May. One of the cars already competed on the German track this past weekend in a shorter warm-up race.
The Nürburgring is a track Hyundai knows well. The automaker established a test center there several years ago and the man leading the development, Albert Biermann, is the former head of engineering at BMW M.
Prototypes for the hot i30 have also been testing on the ‘Ring for over a year and an early development mule was entered in the 2016 N24 race and finished 90th overall.
The cars that Hyundai will enter in this year’s race will both be equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4, 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive—the same configuration to be used in the production model. Leaked information suggests the production model will come in two guises, offering 246 and 271 horsepower, respectively.
The production model, to be called in i30 N, will be unveiled later this year—most likely at September’s 2017 Frankfurt auto show. Unfortunately, the car isn’t headed for the United States. Instead, we’re expected to receive an N-tuned version of the Elantra sedan.