The changing focus of Hyundai away from a cut-price specialist to a fully-fledged automaker will result in the development of a two-seater hybrid supercar.
Senior executives speaking to Australian media at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas confirmed Hyundai isn't just working on enviro-friendly and driverless technology for the future, with plans to introduce a "serious" sports car within the next few years.
Over the last few years Hyundai has bolstered its workforce with a number of high-profile European executives, including former BMW M Division boss Albert Biermann to head-up its N high-performance brand while its chief designer is the the man who penned exotic machines such as the Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo, Luc Donkerwolke.
The South Korean brand has also signaled its intention to move further into the performance market with concepts including the mid-engined PassoCorto (below) and the upscale the HND-9 luxury coupe that both surfaced in 2013.
Hyundai’s most recent high-performance gesture, the N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo, exists only in the virtual world created for the Gran Turismo video game at the 2017 New York motor show.
Sources with knowledge of the project have also confirmed the brand has been benchmarking a variety of high-end supercars at its Namyang development centre in South Korea, including vehicles such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and Lamborghini Huracan.
Donkerwolke confirmed to TMR that he plans he plans to review the latest design elements of the vehicle in Korea within the next fortnight.
"I can't tell you more about it, but definitely we are doing that," said Hyundai's design boss.
"I am actually reviewing a project on this next week after CES. We're not going to go autonomous for all cars just yet."
Hyundai's Vice President for Research and Development, Yang Woong Chul, initially tried to hose down Donkerwolke comments, claiming the design team "work far ahead and I cannot commit much more than that."
But when quizzed further, the high-ranking Korean confirmed "we are very much interested in that" and admitted the car will be a two-seater with power provided by a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
"This is something I cannot say by myself, but as far as I am concerned I would love to promote that.
"We cannot say [it will be] just hybrid, but we will use some electric motor and batteries for high performance. There are some areas we can overcome instead of using big [internal combustion] engines as we would like to minimise as much as possible the use of IC engines and use as much as possible the electric motors. Then, in many ways - not just for efficiency, but for performance - it can very much be optimised using both powertrains.
"Certainly we will put some electric engines in there."
While Yang confirmed that Biermann and the N Division team are heading-up the development of the project, he could not confirm whether it will badged as a Hyundai or become a standalone product for the high-performance outfit in the same vein as the F1-powered Project One from AMG.
"That is not decided yet, but the people who are working on N will be working on that, but how we put it in the N - or even over the N brand - we have not decided," he said.
"It is pretty high performance. It is serious."
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