Recently, there has been a lot of fuss about the demise of the Hyundai N combustion engines. i20 N and i30 N are about to be discontinued in Europe. In Germany, the two compact sports cars are still available until the end of the year. The Kona N has already been forced to retire with the model change. We reported on this at the end of February.

The fact that Europe, with its strict emissions standards and its commitment to end sales of the combustion engine in 2035, is pretty much a wrong-turn from a global perspective, which is now once again evident with regard to the Hyundai N models with combustion engines. In the rest of the world, there is still a long way to go, as our colleagues from Motor1.com Argentina were able to learn from top officials at a press conference for the Ioniq 5 N launch. 

Joon Park, Vice President of the performance sub-brand N, spoke at length on the subject and promised: "Internal combustion engines are not dead".

The news about the future of Hyundai's piston-powered sports cars puts an end to a series of rumours and confusion spread by European media in recent weeks. Hyundai N will stop selling internal combustion engine models only in the European Union and a few other markets that penalise these engines. Elsewhere, products such as the i20 N, i30 N and Elantra N will continue to be developed and sold.

IMG_3284

Joon Park also talks about which drive concept he personally prefers, about the high development costs of the Ioniq 5 N and that they even had a manual gearbox in the pipeline for the e-sports car (which, incidentally, is not yet in the parts bin) 

Read the full interview with Joon Park here:

Why did Hyundai choose the Ioniq 5 to develop its first all-electric sports car?

"Because the Ioniq 5 was the first model developed with our new modular E-GMP platform and we wanted to offer a high-performance N version to the electric car market as soon as possible. But we didn't just want to offer a car with a powerful motor or a high-performance battery. We decided to develop it with the aim of creating a car that is really fun to drive, one that puts a smile on your face when you drive it.

The Ioniq 5 N is the first electric sports car from Hyundai, but of course it won't be the last. The advantage is that if we reach the goal with a car that has a high centre of gravity and a high weight, the next developments will be much faster and even more fun to drive." 

Has Hyundai already decided what the second electric N model will look like? Could it be the Ioniq 6 N or a derivative of the N Vision 74 Concept?

"We can't announce it yet. It's important to emphasise that N is the division responsible for Hyundai's 'technological powerhouse'. It is the sub-brand that develops new technologies that will later be used in other Hyundai Motor Corporation models."

In recent weeks, there have been many rumours from Europe that have been picked up by media around the world. They said that Hyundai N will no longer develop and sell sports models with combustion engines. Is that true?

"No, this is just a decision made for the EU market because we are no longer allowed to sell high-performance sports cars with combustion engines due to environmental regulations. For Hyundai N, the combustion engine is not dead. In America, Asia and Oceania, Hyundai N combustion engines will continue to be available."

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is a 650 PS hot hatch that accelerates from 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds. It's not cheap in Europe, costing €78,000, but it costs half or less than other sports cars with similar performance. Are you losing money to gain market share?

"We are business people, our main goal is to make money. But before we are business people, we are car fanatics. But we also have to be smart. It is true that the development of the Ioniq 5 N was very expensive and we will not recoup the investment with this first model. The compensation will come with the next N models.

But it's true, there were no limits to this first development. You should have seen the look on our engineers' faces when we asked them to give free rein to their ideas: "There are no limits! That's why we have many engineers from South Korea, but also from Europe and other regions. They found the fertile ground for their ideas in Hyundai N."

Which cars on the market compete with the new Ioniq 5 N?

"Well, I have to be honest: it has no direct competition today. But other competitors will come. In the meantime, there are many electric cars that can accelerate very quickly on the straight, but there is none in its class or price range that can hold a candle to it on a track like the Nürburgring."

Do you personally prefer sports cars with an electric or combustion engine?

"I confess that I'm a fan of combustion-engined sports cars, and one of my favourite hobbies is taking part in track days as an amateur driver. We have learnt a lot from this type of audience because they are real customers who will be interested in the new Ioniq 5N.

We have here a high-performance electric car that can drive for a full 20 minutes on the track without tiring and without the batteries going into economy mode. The suspension and brakes of this vehicle are designed to withstand the demands of such a vehicle on the racetrack.

We have even developed a type of quick charger specifically designed for the pits at the racetrack: In 20 minutes, the battery can be restored to 80% of its capacity and is then ready for the next journey. We know racetrack fans very well and the Ioniq 5 N was developed with them in mind."

Is that why the Ioniq 5 N also has the vibrations and noises of a combustion engine and a transmission that mimics the gear changes of a multi-stage automatic?

"Yes, because this car is first and foremost an emotional product. It makes noises, has vibrations and can be driven with a lot of driver intervention. It weighs 2,200 kilos, but it doesn't feel heavy on the racetrack: ES is very manoeuvrable and very fast, but it can also be driven in the city as an everyday hatchback, with all the advantages for city driving that are offered for electric cars in Europe."

Hyundai N is now an official competitor in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and the World Touring Car Championship (TCR), will there be models derived from these race cars in the future?

"Yes, in some markets we already offer the i20 N, i30 N and Elantra N today, but I understand your question: there will be more in the future. We want to transfer everything we learn in racing to the road, and it won't just be electric sports cars.

The brakes, suspension, steering and tyres that we have developed for the Ioniq 5 N can also be applied to very powerful combustion sports cars. We could even have equipped the Ioniq 5 N with a manual gearbox, for which we developed a prototype. But that would have meant that we would have had to install more heavy components. The development was not carried over to the Ioniq 5 N, but it was not a wasted investment. We will see all these developments in future Hyundai N vehicles."