Every major automotive manufacturer needs to pay close attention to Hyundai right now. Crossovers may excite your accounting department, but they don’t excite drivers. Hyundai unveiled the RM19, a Veloster-based concept this week at the LA International Auto Show. The RM stands for “Racing Midship” with a heavy emphasis on “supercar-level handling balance and low-polar-moment-of-inertia agility.”
In 2012, Hyundai undertook the RM program to develop motorsport level technology for the road. It has been their drive to integrate these technologies into the N-line, which is Hyundai’s high-performance trim. The N line embodies the symbiosis of Namyang, Hyundai’s Global R&D home, and its European test center, the Nürburgring. The N line made history in October 2019, when Hyundai became the first manufacturer to field a works entry in the WTAC in Sydney Australia.
The RM19 shares many carryovers with the TCR race car. The shrieking 2.0L belts out an unrestricted 390 horsepower and is backed by a six-speed sequential motorsport gearbox driving the rear tires. Brembo six-piston front brakes paired with four-piston rears, stop the 305mm slick-shod O-Z Racing 20-inch race wheels. The wide arch touring-car fenders flex hard to integrate the RWD-staggered rubber. As a package, the entire aero kit is visually pleasing.
This is the fourth iteration of this Racing Midship concept study. Hyundai hints we may be able to buy something like this in the future, while we gather they may be dialed back a bit from the steroidal-flared madness that is the beauty of this concept. In addition to the crazy gasoline-fueled 2.0-liter, Hyundai has a strategic partnership with Rimac Automobili, Richard Hammond’s favorite Croatian EV company. This holds promise for some exciting hybrid electrics, performance-plug-ins, and beyond.
“The RM platform is a versatile engineering testbed, allowing effective evaluation of various powertrains and performance levels, all on normal roads and environments,” said Albert Biermann, head of global research and development for Hyundai Motor Company. “Throughout the evolution of the RM series, our engineers have gained tremendous hands-on knowledge of high-performance vehicle dynamics with various front-to-rear weight distributions coupled with the effects of a fully-weighted, high-strength body structure on vehicle performance.”
It’s a brave new world. A world where you can buy a fast, rear-wheel-drive hatchback with a mid-mounted engine and Korean reliability. Every major auto manufacturer could earn a piece of this segment — if it were a segment. A segment that makes more sense than CVT-laden, front-wheel-drive appliances packaged in hefty, faux-off-road guise.