Hyundai’s Hot Hatchback Takes On The Nurburgring

Box flares and a turbo? Hyundai is getting very, very serious about performance.

Born in Namyang, honed at the Nürburgring, and headed up by the guy who used to run BMW's M division: Hyundai's N-performance brand is serious business. And, if you still had any doubts about the ability of the South Koreans to follow through on their latest strategy, it's fielding one of the wildest-looking Hyundais we've ever seen at this year's running of the Nürburgring 24.

Box flared and fitted with a huge front intercooler, this hunchy prototype is based on the i30 compact hatch. A European cousin of the Veloster, the i30 Turbo currently comes with the same 1.6L turbo as the top-level of its strange, three-doored relative. It's a punchy enough engine, but both the Veloster and the i30 aren't really much hot hatch competition for the likes of the VW GTI.

However, with the i30 Turbo N, Hyundai's engineers are giving their compact 2.0L power to match or exceed the Germans. Further, building on what they've learned through their experience at the World Rally Championships, the new car will boast considerable upgrades to chassis and transmission.

The question, as ever, is how much of this new tech will filter through to the US market. Currently, the Veloster Turbo is a bit limp in the handling department. Considering how Hyundai was able to take the Genesis sedan from roly-poly softness to bargain Mercedes, it'll be interesting to see if its engineers can create the same genuine enthusiasm in its entry-level cars.

The new Accent already looks much like an Audi A3, so it's not a stretch to imagine one with a 220hp 2.0L turbo and plenty of punch. A bargain S3 from Korea? With Hyundai pushing their limits on the track, it's looking more possible every day.