If there ever was any doubt about Hyundai’s increased brand perception in the global auto industry, the fact that it can talk about building a small sports car without anybody laughing is a clear sign that people are now taking the Korean automaker seriously.

That’s what Hyundai Motor Europe’s outgoing senior VP and COO, Allan Rushforth, told Autocar. Incidentally, Rushforth is actually set to leave Hyundai for a senior role at Nissan, but before he trades in his Hyundai hat for a Nissan beanie, Rutherford told Autocar that the Korean automaker is planning to build a new sports car that could be positioned as a global model.

Rutherford did emphasize that the company has no plans of bringing back the Coupe (the Tiburon in the US market) as the basis for this new sports car. That ship and the market that wants to buy that car sailed into the sunset a long time ago.

Instead, Hyundai could be looking at a smaller sports car that its new N performance division can turn into a full-fledged Mazda Miata rival. The automaker’s recent PassoCorto Concept, which was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, is being looked at as the basis of this new sports car. If that’s the case, Hyundai picked a really good concept to work with, all thanks to the IED design school in Turin that penned the design of the PassoCorto. To this day, I still think of it as a mini McLaren P1, albeit with far less power under its hood.

Speaking of power, the proposed Hyundai sports car could feature a similar powertrain to the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, which carries a 1.6-liter inline-four engine. In the Veolster Turbo, this engine is good for 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for an MX-5 rival.

Click past the jump to read more about Hyundai’s future sports car.

Why It Matters

Gone are the days when Hyundai was treated with the kind of empty shrug normally associated with an automaker that couldn’t find the footing to compete with established automakers. These days, Hyundai’s actually become a heavyweight in its own right, which is why news of the company planning to build a sports car is pretty important.

You’re probably wondering what will happen to the Genesis Coupe. and that’s a fair response. But there’s no harm in having two sports cars in your lineup, right? Besides, the Genesis Coupe could be packaged as the ’big brother’ of this new sports car Hyundai’s thinking of building.

If the Genesis can compete against the likes of the Ford Mustang, this new Hyundai sports car should be able to take on the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Hyundai PassoCorto by IED

2014 Hyundai PassoCorto High Resolution Exterior
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The Hyundai PassoCorto Concept was introduced at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. As far as I’m concerned, it was one of the best concepts Hyundai has introduced in the past couple of years, no small feat considering that the automaker’s also responsible for concepts like the HND-9 Concept and the HCD-14 Genesis Concept.

But the PassoCorto Concept is a real head-turner in every sense of the term. It looks like a smaller version of the McLaren P1 and while it’s not powered by any hybrid wizardry producing north of 900 horsepower, it does have a 1.6-liter, bi-turbocharged engine that pumps out a steady 270 horsepower.

If Hyundai does push through and build a new sports car, I don’t expect it to carry that much output. That would be pushing too close to what the Genesis Coupe is capable of. But somewhere along the lines of 200 to 220 horsepower would be a great number to start with.

Source: AutoCar

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