Germany and South Korea may be thousands of miles apart, but they intersect at a place called “N.”

The Hyundai N Performance Division is a department within the Korean auto manufacturer focused on the development of high-performance cars to rival a market long dominated by the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ferrari, and Porsche.  

The name (or letter for that matter) “N” derives from both Namyang, Hyundai’s global research and development center in South Korea where all Hyundai cars are born, and Nürburgring, the German motorsports complex in Nürburg that is home to the world’s most challenging race track.

Both locations will play integral parts in the manufacturing of Hyundai’s N series vehicles. Hyundai opened a technical center at the Nürburgring facility and the N Division is headquartered 130 miles away in Alzenau, where Hyundai’s World Rally Championship team is based.

The Future of N

The launch of was formally announced in late 2013 and while no N products have rolled off the assembly line just yet, anticipation for the series debut remains high.

The maiden voyage of the N series is expected to hit the market in 2017 with the introduction of the i30N. Hyundai entered a prototype version of the car into the Nurburgring 24 Hours race in June of 2016. This model is expected to be a tuned up version of Hyundai’s next-generation i30 hatchback (known as the Elantra GT in the U.S.) and will be aimed primarily at European markets.

This theme of producing hot rod versions of the brand’s existing fleet is the recipe followed by many other manufacturers that delve into high-performance design and is a likely course of action for the N Division.

But Hyundai enthusiasts in the U.S. won’t have to wait long for their turn. Albert Biermann, who heads up the N Division and is the former head of development for BMW’s Motorsport Division, spoke of plans for two additional N-badged models to be released shortly after the i30N, with at least one of them bound for U.S. soil.

While much about the i30N remains a mystery, here is what has been forecasted so far:

  • The car will feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.
  • The likely transmission is a 6-speed manual with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential designed by Hyundai.
  • The suspension system is expected to be newer than the one outfitted on the car’s i30 hatchback cousin, with a higher capacity cooling system and increased structural reinforcement.

Hyundai Envisions Gaining an Edge on the Racetrack and the Road

The Hyundai racing division returned to World Rally Championship competition in 2014 after a 10-year hiatus and the Hyundai supercars produced by the N Division are expected to regain a foothold in that realm. At the same time, the N series is expected to deliver high-performance sedans and coupes fit for the road.

In fact, thousands of people have already driven a Hyundai N performance car — on a video game. A concept car called the N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo was conceptualized by Hyundai for the latest Gran Turismo video game.  

What does this all mean for Hyundai, which is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017? It means the company is stretching its boundaries for design and innovation while asserting itself in the world of performance racing.

And for enthusiasts, it means the road to tomorrow will take them on an exciting and unknown journey. We’re excited to go along for the ride. Are you?