The Veloster N is one of the cheapest paths to a performance car that’s utterly delightful to daily drive or track. It’s excited us as to what Hyundai will churn out next, in terms of affordable-yet-desirable N-branded cars. And a new rumor out of South Korea suggests the company’s hard at work on a new 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder that reportedly revs up to 7,000 rpm and should find its way into something fun.
Newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun, via Korean Car Blog, dropped this nugget of information in a larger story about Hyundai’s burgeoning N sales. The article notes that N-series Hyundais have seen success particularly in Europe, where 27,442 of them were sold from the brand’s introduction up until November 2020. Of those, 17,126 went to German buyers alone.
This rumored 2.3-liter engine, then, figures to serve as the basis for the next generation of cars like the i30 N and its North American cousin, the Veloster N. Those hot hatchbacks incorporate a 2.0-liter turbo four that redlines at 6,750 rpm and produces at least 250 horsepower, though you can get 25 HP more if you opt for the Performance package.
In fact, the 2.3 may actually be spinning around in a prototype Hyundai hasn’t officially revealed yet. Back in March, Korean Car Blog shared spy photos of a prototype Veloster bearing the branding RM23T. The “RM” part happens to be an abbreviation for “Racing Midship” — a detail visually confirmed by the car’s wide rear fender flares and gaping air intakes behind the doors. The “23T” designation logically hints at an engine like the one we’re hearing about today.
The RM23T wouldn’t be Hyundai’s first mid-engine Veloster experiment. Before this, there was the RM19 and RM20e, the latter of which featured a Rimac co-developed electric motor producing 596 kW (800 HP). Korean Car Blog said at the time of the RM23T’s appearance that its anonymous source suggested the car’s engine was supplemented by an electric motor bringing an extra 80 HP to the party.
Hyundai is still playing coy with the idea of a production, mid-engine sports car, having discussed road testing these prototypes extensively while simultaneously dismissing them as nothing more than rolling test beds for vague future technologies. Meanwhile, AutoExpress’ Steve Sutcliffe said a little more than a year ago that the RM19 was “very much the Mk1 prototype of a Hyundai that will enter production in Mk2 form costing a lot less than £100k, possibly as soon as 2021.”
Granted, that all predates the global pandemic, which could easily have dismantled Hyundai’s plans. Nevertheless, developing a series of iterative mid-engined prototypes seems kind of pointless for an automaker to do unless it intends to eventually mass produce one, so here’s hoping we get a clearer picture of things sooner rather than later — and that this relatively high-revving 2.3-liter turbo plays a central part in the proceedings.