Rumors of an N-badged supercar have been swirling the internet for years and there is actually some truth to them after all. Albert Biermann, the former head of Hyundai’s N division, said Top of the line a flagship sports car was indeed in development at one point. While the i30 N unveiled in 2017 signaled the South Korean brand’s sporting intentions, the original plan was to introduce something far more exciting than the hot compact sedan.
Known internally as the “president’s car”, the original Hyundai N was meant to be a full-fledged supercar with a proper mid-engine setup. Naturally, Albert Biermann was the driving force behind the project, as was the case when he was head of BMW M when he pushed for a supercar. Incidentally, that never happened either, as the Munich homies decided to focus on the i8 plug-in instead.
The first Model N was designed with a carbon fiber chassis and a gasoline engine running alone or with an electric motor as part of a hybrid powertrain. Interestingly, the supercar’s platform was being developed to accommodate a hydrogen fuel cell as well. Why was the project finally abandoned? Seoul’s top brass thought the expected asking price of $150,000 would have been too high for a Hyundai-badged model.
Looking back, Biermann – who now works for the Hyundai Group as an executive technical advisor – agrees with the decision to ditch the supercar and work on much more attainable performance cars such as the Kona N, the i20 N and the Veloster N. Forget the RM (Racing Midship) concepts we’ve seen in recent years, which hinted at a more hardcore model than the crop of N models. A supercar would crown the N range and reinforce Hyundai’s will to build efficient machines.
A different breed of N models are about to be born as engineers put the finishing touches on the all-electric Ioniq 5 N. It should land in 2023 with somewhere in the region of 600 horsepower. In another interview, the same Biermann promised that it would be much faster than the i30 N and that it would feature a dedicated Drift mode.