Hyundai N: Focus is on fun, not necessarily lap times.

How do you measure driving enjoyment? Is it how fast a vehicle can go? Or maybe how quickly it accelerates? There’s no strict definition for sure, but judging by the modern trend it probably has a lot to do with Nürburgring times. At least according to many manufacturers.

But Hyundai doesn't count itself among them, as the South Korean car maker believes lap times are not that important for a sports car, even though the recently launched i30 N was developed on the Nürburgring's Nordschleife circuit. The brand’s N division has a slightly different philosophy than other sports departments.

'Our car should be very approachable,' Albert Biermann, head of Hyundai's high-performance vehicle division, told US magazine Road and Track during the Detroit motor show. 'You don’t need to be a highly skilled performance driver to have fun in an N car. It should be really accessible to normal drivers. They can sense this N feeling, learn and grow with the car, and get even more fun out of it. That’s our philosophy.'

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That’s not to say an N car is not fast on track – 'you can enjoy it on the track a lot,' said Biermann. But he sees no point in spending weeks or months at the German track just to beat some record, which will probably be down again very soon. 'There are companies that spend like five months at the Nürburgring, with tons of people. For that money we can almost develop a whole car. It’s just a waste of time. I don’t do that.' 

The good news is the future of Hyundai's performance division doesn't necessarily depend on its market success – its main goal is to strengthen the brand, and also to add more oomph to regular Hyundai models. Sales have lower priority. 'In the end, it doesn’t matter so much how many of these cars we sell,' Biermann confirmed. 'We want to demonstrate that we’re capable of providing really fun-to-drive cars. We want to increase the performance of Hyundai cars.'

Hyundai i30 N