Hyundai Terminated Its Mid-Engine Sports Car Due to a $150,000 Price Tag

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By Car Brand Experts

Recollections of a mid-engined Hyundai may come to mind from some time ago. Photos of such a concept known as the RM19 were even released by the Korean automaker, cementing its desire to produce a genuine high-performance machine. It has now been unveiled that a road-going sports car featuring a mid-mounted engine was once part of the scheme, but as former President of Hyundai’s R&D division Albert Biermann disclosed in an interview, the endeavor has now been abandoned.

Recently, Top Gear conversed with Biermann, the former BMW M principal engineer who initiated Hyundai’s N performance brand. Biermann declared his retirement toward the end of last year, so though his formal role at the company has concluded, he remains a valuable source of information regarding the automaker’s internal operations. This encompasses the now-defunct super sports car initiative at Hyundai under his supervision.

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“We were developing an N supercar,” affirmed Biermann, indicating that it didn’t possess an official codename. “We merely referred to it as The Chairman’s Car.”

Hyundai’s endeavor was rather noteworthy, based on the scarce details given by Biermann. The key components included the intended carbon fiber monocoque and mid-engine configuration, both of which laid the groundwork for a genuine driver’s vehicle. The team apparently deliberated on incorporating a traditional combustion engine but remained open to a potential hybrid option. This was significant considering the speculations surrounding Hyundai-manufactured high-performance EVs during Biermann’s tenure, along with suggestions that it might engage Rimac for its upcoming electrified offerings.

“We outlined plans for a petrol [engine] with or without hybrid, or even [a hydrogen fuel cell],” stated Biermann.

It remains uncertain whether Hyundai settled on a power plant or if the project was abandoned before a resolution could be reached. Nonetheless, assembling a project like this would have been remarkably uncharacteristic for Hyundai. A mid-engined semi-exotic with a monocoque and potential hybrid system? That parallels more with the Acura NSX than with a Hyundai-badged vehicle. Indeed, Biermann acknowledged the project’s resemblance to the NSX but controversially asserted that Hyundai’s creation would be labeled as “anything but dull.”

The anticipated Hyundai would have shared another trait with the NSX: a lofty price tag. Given its bespoke nature, this would have led to low-volume manufacturing and high expenses, ultimately persuading management to halt the project and discontinue the potential car.

“The obstacle was that the vehicle would have exceeded $150,000,” remarked Biermann. “At that period, the perception was that a Hyundai could not command such a price.”

Hyundai opted to pivot towards budget-friendly enthusiast vehicles. N iterations of the Elantra, Kona, i20, i30, and Veloster emerged, enhancing the appeal of everyday cars for enthusiasts with limited alternatives in the market, all while boosting Hyundai’s sales figures.

Therefore, find comfort in knowing that while the Hyundai supercar perished, the inexpensive enthusiast vehicle persists in its memory. With the surge of electrification more widespread than ever, expect Hyundai’s production of performance EVs to create a significant impact.

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