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In the event you're not familiar with Hyundai’s mid-engined ambitions, it all started back in 2014 with the Veloster Midship concept. As its name implies, the showcar from Busan was based on a Veloster with a mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels with nearly 300 bhp on tap. RM15 and RM16 concepts followed with various updates, culminating with the RM19 packing close to 400 bhp for the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The South Korean marque strongly suggested a production version would follow, and even though nearly two years have passed, the sports car hasn't been revealed yet. Thankfully, Jean Pierre Kraemer (from the JP Performance tuning house) had the chance to get up close and personal with the work-in-progress RM19. Not only that, but he sat down and had a chat with Albert Biermann, the head of research and development for both Hyundai and Kia.
The man in charge of R&D said two prototypes have been built, with one being put through its paces at home in Korea and the other getting a workout in Europe. Interestingly, the test vehicle featured in the video has a larger 2.3-litre engine rather than the 2.0-litre unit all previous RM concepts had. In its current state, it pumps out around 350 bhp, but the final number will be different as Hyundai is still tweaking the four-pot to meet Europe's emissions regulations.
That represents a drop of 40 bhp from the RM19 concept, which had the 2.0-litre engine adapted from the Veloster N TCR race car. Still, 350 bhp is nothing to sneeze at, especially in a mid-engine package with what will likely be close-to-ideal weight distribution. Aside from the different engine, the updated prototype boasts an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox rather than the six-speed sequential of the original RM19.
Biermann says the engine + gearbox combo gives the sports car "enormous charm" before mentioning the production version won't necessarily have the fat 305 rear tyres. The fully electric RM20e with its peak power of 750 bhp needs them, according to the R&D chief. The video continues with JP hopping behind the wheel of the car and learning from a member of the development team the 2.3-litre engine has basically been developed for the updated RM19.
It pumps out 460 Newton-metres (339 pound-feet) of torque from 2,000 rpm in a prototype carrying a number plate and being driven on public roads, meaning it can't be too far from a production version. The man in charge of the engine in terms of driveability mentions the turbocharged four-cylinder unit revs at up to 7,000 rpm, thus confirming a rumour from late 2020 about Hyundai working on a high-revving 2.3-litre engine.
It cost the company an estimated €500,000 (nearly £428,000) to build just this one prototype and a production model would be worth Porsche 718 GTS money while offering 718 GT4 performance. It needed 4.3 seconds in an acceleration test to 62 mph (100 km/h), but the Hyundai employee said his best performance was a 3.88-second sprint.
As to when we'll actually get to see the final variant in a Hyundai showroom, it could happen within the next couple of years.