Two Hyundai Models Get Green Light For N Treatment
Performance crossovers and SUVs will be critical to the N division’s successby Kirby Garlitos, on
The introduction of the Hyundai i30 N spells the start of the Korean automaker’s venture into the world of performance vehicles. Now that the hot hatch is in the fold, the process of building up the whole division begins, and two Hyundai models have been green-lit to help fill up the ranks: the Tucson and the Kona. The real development here is the inclusion of the Kona N since we’ve already heard from no less than N performance division boss Albert Biermann about the fate of the Tucson N.
Now, Hyundai Australia Senior Manager of Product Planning Andrew Tuitahi confirmed to Motoring that the Kona N is a “go” as well. The bad news is that both models aren’t expected to arrive anytime soon since Hyundai’s priority for the N division seems to focus on building its foundation with performance hatchbacks, coupes, and sedans. Crossovers and SUVs will come later, and the expectation is that these models will be integral parts of the whole N experience. Once the division itself is up-and-running, the attention will inevitably turn on bringing both the Tucson N and the Kona N to life. How long that’s going to take is anybody’s guess at this point, but Tuatahi may have put it best when he referred to time timetable as a “slow burn.” The good news is that the status of both the Tucson N and the Kona N is a matter of “when” and not “if.” We’ll just have to wait for word on “when” is when going to be.
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Is this an exciting development
The key here is to understand what it is that Hyundai wants to showcase when it does decide to build a Tucson N and a Kona N
I suppose it depends on who you’re going to ask. If you ask me, I’m fully onboard with seeing a Tucson N and a Kona N come to life. For one, it’s not out of the ordinary for crossovers and SUVs to get performance versions. Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have all done it and have had remarkable success because of it.
The key here is to understand what it is that Hyundai wants to showcase when it does decide to build a Tucson N and a Kona N. Does it want both models to compete against the established Europeans or does it want to introduce both models slowly before ratcheting up their performance levels in the coming years? Then there are questions on whether Hyundai can differentiate both performance models enough that they don’t step on each other’s toes. There’s a certain way to do it that the likes of Mercedes and BMW have been successful with, so it’s not like Hyundai is venturing into unchartered territory here.
Then there’s the issue of giving the N division an identity of its own that’s separate from Hyundai.
Then there’s the issue of giving the N division an identity of its own that’s separate from Hyundai. The i30 N was successful in that regard, but it would be foolish of Hyundai to think that the N division already has its own unique identity after just one model. Something like this is going to take some time to nurture, which is exactly what Hyundai Australia chief J.W. Lee talked about in his discussion with the Motoring. “We are hoping the N branding will bring something new to our models,” Lee said. “We want to change customer perception, but we can’t do this overnight. Whenever we do research, customer perception is always that we have affordable or cheaper cars. Good cars, but budget cars. I hope the N badge is going to create a halo effect for our brand.”
On that end, it’s easy to see why Hyundai decided to confirm N versions of the Tucson and Kona. Now, all it has to do is make sure that when the time comes, and both models are revealed, they imbibe more of the N division’s premium and performance identities more than they do Hyundai’s.
Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai i30 N.
Read our full review on the 2017 Hyundai Tucson.
Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.