At the Detroit auto show in January, Hyundai introduced the 2019 Veloster N, the first full-blown N model that will come to the United States. With 275 horsepower, an electronic limited-slip front differential, and adaptive dampers plus grabby front bucket seats and a manual transmission, this variant of the Veloster squats down over serious performance rubber from either Michelin or Pirelli and appears to have what it takes to compete with the best in a heady class that includes the Honda Civic Type R, the Ford Focus RS, and the Volkswagen Golf R.
But where does N, which is named after the Korean brand’s sprawling Namyang development facility, go from here? We talked to Hyundai’s (and Kia’s and Genesis’s) major-domo of performance, Albert Biermann, who, although he wouldn’t divulge any future N-ified models—“First, we have to see how the marketplace reacts,” he said—did give us some solid information on the future of this burgeoning sub-brand.
As have other marques, such as Mercedes’ AMG, BMW’s M, and Cadillac’s V, Hyundai will be adding a middle trim that capitalizes on the N brand without going whole hog on modifications. According to Biermann, these models will be called N Sport, and they will not get “a different engine, bigger brakes, or a whole new suspension or axles” but will be tuned “for a more sporty driving experience.” He also said that such a package may also include “a different tire than what’s in the normal range.” There will be some visual tweaks to both exterior and interior as well. Biermann confirmed that an N Sport trim could appear on any vehicle line, whether or not a N model exists.
Somewhat surprisingly, the freshly redesigned non-N Veloster retains its sporty R-spec trim level, despite the fact that it may also gain a N Sport model along with the Veloster N. When pressed, Biermann responded somewhat ominously, “The future will tell if that makes sense.”
There will be an range of as yet unspecified N accessories as well as continued and expanded motorsports involvement. The World Rally Championship effort continues, while we’re told to expect an announcement soon on future and potentially more U.S.-centric racing activities.
When we inquired about the pricing position of N models such as the Veloster, Biermann acknowledged that this is one of Hyundai’s key strengths, “which we will keep for high-performance cars.” Then he said it even more directly: “Expect better value for money” than the current crop of searing hatches.
Serious performance models that are sold at a discount relative to the competition? That combines two of our favorite things, and we can’t wait to wheel the Veloster N—and see what’s next for the N brand.