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Hyundai N flagship getting hybrid drivetrain, AWD?

by Ronan Glon

It's on track for a 2022 debut.

Hyundai has stopped hiding the fact that it's developing a halo car for its performance-oriented N division. The firm is beginning to release details about the yet-unnamed model, and it sounds like it will be a force to be reckoned with on and off the track.

Although camouflaged test mules are zig-zagging across Europe, the yet-unnamed model remains at least three years away from its market launch, and Hyundai hasn't finalized the specifications sheet yet. It's open to using a powerful, four-cylinder engine and a conventional four-wheel drive system, but it's also looking at going hybrid in a bid to add an electric power boost and keep fuel economy in check. If that's the case, the model likely won't arrive with a mid-mounted engine.

"We're developing more powerful combustion engines for future cars, but also more powerful electric powertrains; experimental performance fuel cells, too. Conventional four-wheel drive is an option for the [halo] car, but it is very old technology. I would prefer to think about a front-engined hybridized platform with a rear-mounted electric motor; it's an appealing direction for us," said GyooHeon Choi, the vice president of Hyundai's high performance vehicle and motorsport division, in an interview with British magazine Autocar.

Interestingly, sources indicated another point that hasn't been settled is what the model should look like. Hyundai's test mules resemble the mid-engined RM16 concept, and reminds us of the Renault Clio V6; this silhouette may completely change over the next couple of years. The halo car could instead arrive as a coupe, Autocar learned, or as a sports sedan not unlike the Kia Stinger GT.

N's flagship remains on-track for a 2022 launch, meaning we could see it as a thinly-veiled concept in 2020 or 2021. When it lands, it will be more expensive than, say, a Veloster (pictured), but it won't carry a Ferrari-rivaling price tag, either.

"Our challenge is to make the product affordable but also credible in the way we define any Hyundai N car. It cannot only be capable of just a handful of laps of a track before losing power - but also cannot be pitched at a price of hundreds of thousands of euros. The people who buy those kinds of cars are not Hyundai customers; not yet, at any rate," Klaus Köster, the director of high-performance vehicles at Hyundai's European Technical Center, told Autocar.

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