Hyundai is currently testing an all-wheel-drive version of its i30 N that can presumably handle more power than the front-wheel-drive version currently on sale.
The information was revealed by Hyundai spokesman Guido Schenken in an interview with Carsguide published on Thursday.
Schenken said a number of prototypes are being tested and that AWD had been looked at as a possibility for the car from the start of development.
The AWD hardware could potentially be borrowed from Hyundai's Kona, which shares a platform with the i30.
2018 Hyundai i30 N
The i30 N's 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 tops out at 271 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Any increase in power will likely prove hard to handle with drive going to the front wheels, although Honda has shown that it can be done with its 306-hp Civic Type R.
But Hyundai will need a lot more than 306 hp if it wants to compete with the top hot hatches of the world, all of which come with AWD. The Focus RS, which is no longer on sale, came with 350 hp, and Audi Sport and Mercedes-AMG currently offer hatchbacks whose outputs approach 400 hp. Volkswagen is also reportedly working on a 400-hp version of its next Golf R.
Interestingly, the lead engineer at Ford's RS division is now working at Hyundai as head of vehicle test and development. Tyrone Johnson, who oversaw development of the Focus RS during his time at Ford, was hired earlier this year to replace former BMW M engineering boss Albert Biermann, who has been promoted to the head of engineering for all of Hyundai. We should point out that Biermann has been hinting at a more potent i30 N even before the standard car's launch in 2017.
While the i30 N isn't bound for sale in the United States, any high-performance version with AWD will likely spawn a Veloster N equivalent, since the i30 and Veloster are twins under the skin. Stay tuned.
2019 Hyundai Veloster N