Prototype Drive: Hyundai RM20e Teases the Future of N

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Prototype Drive: Hyundai RM20e Teases the Future of N

Hyundai’s N performance subbrand is not big on concept cars, at least not in the traditional sense. Rather than the superficial glitz of auto show mockups, the group prefers its science projects to have the substance of rolling development platforms. Witness the evolution of its RM prototypes, which the company has utilized since 2012 to refine its performance ethos and flesh out new technologies, largely with a focus on mid-mounted internal-combustion powertrains. But to show how its RM program relates to an automotive world that is quickly going electric, Hyundai invited us to drive its latest version, the 799-hp RM20e—on a challenging racetrack no less.

Seeing as we were already at California’s undulating Sonoma Raceway for the launch of the 276-hp 2022 Elantra N sedan, the timing of our drive was convenient. But it also was significant: Hyundai has numerous EVs in its product pipeline, including at least one dedicated performance model, and the company has struck up a significant development partnership with Croatian EV startup Rimac, maker of the impressively powerful Nevera hypercar.

In Hyundai-speak, RM stands for a rear-midship powertrain placement, which lends these prototypes a favorable weight distribution and agile handling. They’ve historically used Veloster hatchback body shells with adjustable control-arm rear suspensions and transverse four-bangers stuffed into where the rear seat and cargo area used to be. Recent iterations have taken the form of captive competition vehicles; the RM19 we previously drove is a modified version of the company’s TCR race car, featuring a 390-hp turbo four mated to a six-speed sequential manual. But the RM program has been instrumental in developing new production components, including active exhaust systems, electronically controlled limited-slip differentials, and the current eight-speed dual-clutch automatic found in a few Hyundai Motor Group vehicles.

For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.

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