Are we getting a production model?

Back in 2013, Hyundai announced the N division and promised to unleash a series of high-performance cars. The first is set to arrive by 2017 as the i30 N, but the Korean brand also showcased a few mid-engined concepts in recent years. The most recent one goes by the name RM16 and was unveiled at the 2016 Busan Motor Show in South Korea. Although the brand said that its RM concepts aren’t destined for production, what appears to be a camouflaged version of the RM16 was just spotted testing on the Nurburgring.

So is Hyundai now planning to unleash a super-hot, mid-engined hatchback on public roads? It’s impossible to tell at this point, but the RM16’s presence on the "Green Hell" says that Hyundai is indeed working on something big. But what could it be?

With RM16 Concept based on the Veloster, the first thing that comes to mind is that the company is preparing a high-performance version of the hatchback. It would make sense given that Hyundai is looking to expand its performance-oriented offerings. However, the test car is clearly using a mid-ship layout (check out the big vents in the rear fenders) and a mid-engined Veloster isn’t exactly feasible at this point. Granted, we’ve had mid-engined hatchbacks on public roads in the past — the Renault Clio V6 RS springs to mind — but is it a good time to bring such a vehicle to the market now?

Another scenario is that Hyundai could be developing a race-spec car, but the issue here is the fact that there is no racing series a mid-engined hatchback could be used in. The World Rally Championship is out of the question since it’s restricted to subcompacts. Of course, there’s always one-make racing programs to consider, but is it worth the investment? I’d say no.

What’s more, rumor has it the Veloster could be discontinued soon, which makes the RM16’s arrival at the ’Ring that much more strange. Perhaps Hyundai simply wants to set a Nurburgring record or something, but in this case why wrap the car in camouflage? I hate to admit it, but I have no clue as to what’s going on.

Continue reading for the story.

Why it matters

Spy shots are rarely easy to read and require a lot of digging for a solid speculative piece. But this latest set of the RM16 lapping the ’Ring definitely takes the cake. Predicting what Hyundai wants to do with the RM16 is difficult for many reasons. Granted, preparing the wild mid-engined hatchback for production isn’t out of question, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a sane automaker would do at this point. I mean, the performance hatchback market is crowded enough as it is and a mid-engined Veloster wouldn’t find many customers waiting. Sure, the Koreans could launch it as a very limited, likely very expensive model for hardcore enthusiasts, but the Hyundai badge on the nose might keep most gearheads away. But needless to say, if the RM16 joins the upcoming N family as a production car, we would love to see it in action and test it here in the U.S. Meanwhile, all we can do is wait and hope to obtain more information at upcoming auto shows.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder:
Related Manufacturers