You don’t see this kind of insanity every day

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Our mates over at Hyundai Australia must have a lot of time on their hands. A year after building a one-off convertible Santa Fe that was pretty much a standard Santa Fe with its roof chopped off, Hyundai Australia outdid itself this time by rolling out a full N-spec iMax passenger van. Known as the Starex in other global markets — it’s not sold in the U.S. — the iMax N isn’t your typical passenger van. It comes with a completely different engine, a limited-slip differential, and a dual-mode active exhaust system that you normally find in models like the i30 N and the U.S.-spec Veloster N. Obviously, Hyundai Australia wouldn’t go through these lengths to create an N-spec iMax passenger van if it didn’t have plans to have fun with it. Well, it did have fun with it. A lot of fun.

I’ll admit it. At first, I didn’t know what Hyundai Australia’s plans were for the N-spec iMax. I initially thought it was a science experiment of sorts, a way to infuse Hyundai N into something — in this case, a passenger van — that nobody would’ve expected. But as I learned more about it, that’s when it became clear. This isn’t your typical Hyundai iMax van. It’s not even your not-so-typical iMax N van.

This is the Hyundai iMax N Drift Bus, an eight-seater, rear-wheel-drive passenger van that’s as happy to go sideways on the race track as it is shuttling your kids to football practice.

You can tell by the way it looks that the iMax N Drift Bus is different. How often do you see a family-oriented vehicle wearing a body kit and a set of 19-inch wheels that look like they were taken straight out of the i30 N. It doesn’t just end there. The iMax N Drift Bus is also dressed in the same Performance Blue paint finish that most of Hyundai’s N vehicles come in. Inside, the van comes with a unique steering wheel, leather and suede upholstery, and front sports seats. Yes, sports seats. In a van. If that doesn’t give you hints of what to expect with this ride, perhaps you can look at its engine.

Only Australians Would Build a Hyundai IMax N Drift Van, But We're So Glad They Did
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Gone is the iMax’s standard 2.5-liter turbodiesel I-4 engine. In its place is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine that produces 402 horsepower and 409 pound-feet of torque.

Throw in an eight-speed automatic transmission that Hyundai Oz developed in-house and sends power to the two rear wheels and a limited-slip differential, and you have a tail-happy — it doesn’t have one, but bear with me — passenger van that can burn rubber like a veteran drift car.

Hyundai IMax N Drift Van specifications
Engine 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine
Horsepower 402 HP
Torque 409 Lb-FT
Transmission eight-speed automatic
0 to 100 km/h <5 seconds
Only Australians Would Build a Hyundai IMax N Drift Van, But We're So Glad They Did
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In the event that you remain skeptical of what the iMax N Drift Bus is capable of, go ahead and watch this video provided by Hyundai Australia. There’s a good chance that you’re going to want one after watching it. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen because the one-off iMax N Drift Bus isn’t headed to production anytime soon. It will, in all likelihood, join the one-off Santa Fe Cabriolet wherever it is that Hyundai Australia stored it.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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