An open letter to Hyundai to bring the N brand to India| Aatish’s blog
If anyone can make it happen its you. For years, we have had to deal with cars that are compromised. Not fast enough. Not sporty enough. ‘Warm hatchbacks’, we liked to call them, refusing to bestow upon them full hot hatch status. But the time is ripe. India is taking to the performance car like never before. The likes of M Division from BMW and AMG from Mercedes-Benz are seeing sense in assembling cars locally to bring in volumes. They have been so well received that the M340i, BMW’s first Made-In-India M car sold just seven days since it was launched. And it’s a sedan — a segment we all know doesn’t really make hay, no matter what the sun does. Don’t waste any more time. Bring the N brand to India. We’re ready.
I understand why you have haven’t made the move yet. You didn’t have the right product. The i30 N was too large. Our Indian tastes may be evolving, but the i30 is a step too far. It is one size up on the i20, which will make it more expensive even in standard form. Getting the high performance version here would have been prohibitory. The other incredibly exciting car you had was the Veloster N — the eccentric one with one door on the left and two doors on the right. But that car has only been engineered for left-hand-drive markets, so your hands were tied. But now, you have a product. The i20 N. It shares so much with the i20 that you should be able to keep costs down. Sure the engine, the suspension, the diff and other key components will need to be imported. But that should still allow you to do better than what Volkswagen did with the Polo GTI — bringing it in as a CBU and pricing it way out of our reach.
The car has received high praise. evo, our sister publication in the UK has it on the cover of this month’s magazine, on three wheels. “Cars like this stand or fall on being fun and honest and the i20 N is exactly that from the first mile… Its numbers on paper may not be the stuff of front cover headlines, but what leaves me smitten is the sheer fizziness of it,” they said. Mind you, this comes from the guys who have seen the entire Golf GTI story from its inception and are regularly handed 300bhp+ hot hatches. Their standards for performance cars are well beyond what we are accustomed to in India. And they’re full of praise.
Over the last few years, you have been steadily improving the handling of your cars. From wishy-washy dynamics, you now build comfortable cars that remain poised through a set of corners and this is something we have said repeatedly in our reviews over the last year and a half. But this will take things to another league. And you are going to have to cultivate the N division’s image more intentionally. Maybe you can bring down Thierry Neuville and your WRC i20 for a roadshow demonstration in major cities. Maybe you could fettle the current i20 and create a one-make racing series that will run along side the national championship — you would literally have to truck them across the road from your factory to the MMRT to get them racing. Hell, maybe you could even open up a proper motorsport division in India, and build i20s for rallying and racing customer sport. Say what you want about the Polo GTI’s pricing, but VW has got its motorsport division right and that definitely should be a project you should study. Or you could take things to the next level — pump some money in to one of the upcoming circuits around the county. Make it your ‘home track’, like Honda with the Twin Ring in Motegi or Ferrari with Mugello. The possibilities are endless!
Ever since you showcased the N brand at Auto Expo last year, we have been waiting to hear what plans you have in store for it in India. Rumours doing the rounds right now say that you will bring in the N-Line — essentially a cosmetic upgrade to the cars we already have here. People buy the M Sport kits on their BMWs because they look good, yes, but also because they know what the M5 is. Don’t deny us the full deal. Bring us the i20 N. Show us the full potential of what N is capable of. Push yourself in to a space that will make driving enthusiasts take you more seriously. If there’s anyone that can price a 200bhp hot hatch well, if there’s anyone who can bring a genuine hot hatch to India and see it turn in to a success, it is you.