HYUNDAI is working on an affordable, fun-to-drive hybrid sports-car designed to take on the Toyota 86 and Nissan 370Z.
The Korean car maker has been toying with the idea of a coupe since the sleek HND-9 concept was unveiled in 2013 and it now seems clear the car is close to getting the green light for production.
Two senior Hyundai executives at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today told Australian media the sports car would likely move from a concept to a reality.
“We are definitely doing it,” said Hyundai chief designer Luc Donckerwolke, who styled Lamborghinis before working for the Korean brand.
“I’m actually reviewing the (design) project next week, after CES. I can’t tell you much more about it, but we are definitely doing it.”
In a separate interview a short time later, Hyundai’s head of research and development, Woong-Chul Yang, said: “We are very much interested in it and as far as I’m concerned I’d love to promote (a sports car). That’s something our brand needs at this time.”
Although the sports car would be at least three years from Hyundai showrooms, the company said it would form part of an expanded line-up of performance cars under the ‘N’ brand.
The Hyundai N brand debuts locally this year with a hot hatch version of the i30 intended to compete with the VW Golf GTI.
“The people working at N will be working on (our sports car), but how we put it in the N or maybe above N … it’s pretty high performance. It’s serious.”
Hyundai would not disclose exactly what engines would power the future sports car, however Mr Yang said: “We will use electric motors and batteries to make … more performance. Some areas we can’t just overcome by putting a big (petrol engine).”
“That means not only efficiency but also performance can be very much optimised using both (petrol and electric) powertrains. Certainly we will put some electric (power) in there.”
Mr Yang said the sports car was far from confirmed, even though the design was in the final stages.
“When we talk about (a sports car), the first thing is the design; design can go far ahead before committing,” said Mr Yang.
“(Confirmation) is something I cannot say for myself. As far as I am concerned, I would like to have that promoted, that’s something our brand probably needs at this point in time.”
The Hyundai sports car would likely fill the price gap between the $30,000 Toyota 86 and $60,000 Nissan 370Z.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling