Hyundai's N brand working on a true halo performance car
The Korean automaker's new performance N division wants to make an exciting, range-topping model.
Jake HolmesReviews Editor
While studying traditional news journalism in college, Jake realized he was smitten by all things automotive and wound up with an internship at Car and Driver. That led to a career writing news, review and feature stories about all things automotive at Automobile Magazine, most recently at Motor1. When he's not driving, fixing or talking about cars, he's most often found on a bicycle.
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Hyundai likes to call the Veloster -- that quirky hatchback with 201-horsepower Turbo and the new 275-horsepower N variants -- its 'reverse halo car' -- an inexpensive model that gets buyers excited about other entries in its lineup. But soon, N will show off a true halo car at the very top of the company's range.
"New halo models will shape the brand," Thomas Schemera, Hyundai's head of High Performance Vehicles and Motorsports divisions, told reporters today in Germany. "We will share the details soon."
Unfortunately, Schemera wouldn't be pushed on what shape, size, or market segment the halo model would take. Nor would he hint as to whether the model will be an outlandish concept or a closer-to-production vehicle. Schemera, like N division president Albert Biermann, came to Hyundai N from BMW's M division, so it's safe to say the pair have some ideas about how to make thrilling halo cars.
Veloster N brings Hyundai's performance brand to the US
This isn't the first time we've heard rumblings about a halo model. In early June, Biermann spilled at least a few beans talking about the brand's product trajectory.
The N division -- think of it like Hyundai's version of Mercedes-Benz's AMG, or Audi Sport GmbH -- was announced at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. So far, the brand is selling the i30 N hot hatchback in Europe and the mechanically related Veloster N in South Korea. The 2019 Veloster N will launch in the US toward the end of this year, likely around November; Roadshow will have a first drive of the car for you next week.
Schemera said later that one of the issues for the N brand is that there is currently no Hyundai owner community; customers buy Hyundais "to get from A to B," and aren't necessarily "car connoisseurs" like, say, M shoppers. Getting people behind the wheel of the i30 and Veloster N could start to change that -- but so could a show-stopping halo model, too.