Hyundai introduced the N performance brand to the North American market in 2018 with the VELOSTER N. From the start, the car’s performance credentials were showcased through motorsports and a program in the burgeoning TCR Class.
Success soon followed, with the VELOSTER N winning the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR Class’s Driver, Manufacturer and Team Championships.
Today, the VELOSTER N shares the limelight with the new Hyundai ELANTRA N and KONA N models on the road, and is now joined on the track by the ELANTRA N TCR. Success has come quickly for the ELANTRA N TCR, having already won twice thus far in 2021, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and, most recently, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the hands of Mark Wilkins and co-driver Harry Gottsacker.
A common theme among manufacturers participating in motorsports is to win the hearts and minds of consumers by imbuing their performance models with a hefty dose of racing pedigree. Recently Wilkins, an avowed car nut, has spent plenty of time behind the wheel of the KONA N, and he confirms that its racing pedigree comes through loud and clear – not least of which from the note of its sport-tuned exhaust.
“The KONA N is a small SUV, but driving it is both a surprise and a delight,” says Wilkins. “I call it a ‘hot-hatch SUV’ because it has all the characteristics of the VELOSTER N in terms of its fun-to-drive factor.
“It’s really a bold move for Hyundai with the KONA, because it’s so popular across the range,” he adds. “There’s everything from the standard model, to an electric version, and now up to the N. From the eight-speed DCT gearbox, to the various driving modes, to the center display that offers so much information for owners to dive into, the KONA N delivers such a great sense of driving involvement.
“For example, we drove on this twisty stretch of road near WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and I was just smiling all the way. The electronic limited-slip differential is really a magic piece that pulls the car through the corners and makes you want to drive harder. That’s what I love about N the most – it’s made for the track, so when you get out on fun roads, you just want to push it all day. In a nutshell, that’s what N is all about.”
Mason Filippi swapped his Copeland Motorsports Hyundai VELOSTER N TCR racecar for an ELANTRA N road car to join Wilkins in exploring Monterey’s backroads. Like Wilkins, Filippi was enthused by the performance credentials of the ELANTRA N.
“Everything I love about the VELOSTER N is refined and elevated in the new ELANTRA N,” says Filippi. “That turn-in bite that you get in the VELOSTER N is also there with the ELANTRA N, which is really confidence inspiring. So when you take it on the twisty roads like we did, it was really planted, and I could even get the car to ‘rotate.’ It’s those characteristics that deliver a racecar-like feel.”
Racecar pedigree might be hard to quantify, but happy racecar drivers say it all.
For the driving enthusiast who’s been waiting for a new breed of high-performance sedan, Hyundai has unleashed a newcomer that’s worthy of the N badge. The ELANTRA N with N Grin Shift engaged with the eight-speed dual clutch transmission is a 286-hp cornering machine that makes driving more personal by letting you customize the drive mode and exhaust notes. Performance never felt or sounded this fun.
The 2022 KONA N (ABOVE) is a high-performance SUV capable of handling the nastiest corners at the Nurburgring while also delivering as a highly versatile SUV. It’s got all of the goods that make every N a rush to drive – from customizable drive modes to the signature crackle and pops of the exhausts, plus plenty of room to venture far and wide.
N delivers a new level of high-performance fun. Find out more at hyundaiusa.com/NextLevel.