IED Turin and Hyundai's PassoCorto sports car conceptEnlarge Photo
This week is turning out to be a shocker for fans of affordable sports cars. Just a day after we learned Nissan and its upmarket division Infiniti were scaling bank their respective performance car plans, comments from a senior Hyundai exec have emerged that throw cold water on the potential for a dedicated sports car from the Korean brand.
Speaking with Autocar, Hyundai’s U.K. chief Tony Whitehorn said that instead of a new sports car the brand will focus on uprated versions of existing models.
“Putting a new sports car into that [affordable] segment isn’t easy,” Whitehorn said. “It’s a big risk.”
Hyundai’s sister brand Kia has been rumored in the past to be working on a sports car and Hyundai, too, has hinted at the possibility with recent concepts such as the PassoCorto developed by Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) of Turin. In fact, just last October one of its execs said the company was evaluating the launch of a sports car but had yet to make a decision.
No doubt the likes of Hyundai and Nissan have been watching Toyota’s experience with the GT 86 and its Scion FR-S twin. Just 14,062 FR-S coupes were sold in the U.S. in 2014, down 23.3 percent on the previous year. The car's poor sales performance has even led to Toyota ruling out launching additional variants.
The good news is that Hyundai remains focused on improving the performance of its existing lineup. The automaker has even gone so far as to hire a BMW M engineering veteran to ensure its next generation of cars are at or near the top of their segments for rewarding driving dynamics.