Hyundai’s 390-hp RM19 prototype bodes well for affordable, N-badged performance

Hyundai may be readying its own affordable sports car with a midship-mounted motor, with possible electrified variants to come. Now that the new C8 Corvette brings exotic, mid-engine performance at a less-than-exotic sub-$60,000 base price, Hyundai seems ready to join the mid-ship performance party, however unconventional a new sports car may seem, given market trends.

The RM19 Racing Midship Sports Car Prototype, revealed at the 2019 AutoMobility LA (aka Los Angeles Auto Show), is the latest in the Korean automaker’s series of RM (Racing Midship) prototypes, and unlike the previous RM cars, this one might actually see production in the form of a “potential brand-halo car,” per a company statement.

Power comes from a 390-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder, borrowed from Hyundai’s N team’s TCR race cars. With that amount of shove, the company is predicting a 0–60 mph time of under four seconds. Hyundai claims “race car-like” performance, braking, and cornering paired with “daily road-going capability.” Does this imply a production version? We certainly hope so. If the Veloster N is any indication, Hyundai certainly has the capability to nail the fun-factor without making a car unlivable in daily use.

Hyundai RM19

Having recently invested in a strategic partnership with Croatian EV technology firm Rimac, Hyundai says that it is working closely with the hypercar firm to develop high-performance battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. Hyundai had previously announced its plans to introduce as many as 44 “eco-friendly” models by 2024, including a few for the N brand.

“The RM19 sports car signals future brand aspirations for Hyundai’s high-performance N brand, solidly moving N into the prestigious arena of supercar-level performance,” said Thomas Schemera, executive VP of product for the Hyundai Motor Group. “Hyundai N will not only increase heartbeats per minute via powerful internal combustion engines, but also through the instantaneous torque and environmental sustainability of electrified powertrains moving forward.”

The “N” in Hyundai N has a double meaning. It stands for both Namyang, Korea, the site of Hyundai’s global R&D center, where the N cars are created; and for Germany’s Nürburgring, where Hyundai operates its European Test Center. The N cars’ track-capable performance is represented by the sub-brand’s “N” logo, said to be inspired by a road course chicane.

We just hope to production versions hit roads—and tracks—sometime soon. Would you spring for a mid-engine sports car from South Korea? Let us know below.

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