Hyundai Thinks Hybrids Could Save Fun Cars With Gasoline Engines


The automotive industry narrative delves into the future of sports cars amidst tightening emissions regulations and a surge in taxes on large-displacement engines. The shift has heralded a tentative era for performance vehicles reliant on combustion engines. Markedly, Hyundai recently halted production of the i20 N and i30 N in Europe amid stringent emission legislation. However, complacency leaves no room in the volatile automotive industry, and several companies are exploring diverse routes in an attempt to uphold the classic, combustion-powered sports car.

The Future of Hyundai

Albert Biermann, the current Executive Technical Advisor and former R&D boss at Hyundai, expressed optimism, seeing hybrid powertrains as a window of opportunity. Once the driving force behind the N division’s creation, Biermann confirmed they were developing more robust hybrid configurations for the Hyundai and Genesis brands. He coyly mentioned the Elantra N as a possible candidate for electrification without confirming if it would proceed.

The Elantra N and Other Options

Hyundai has so far confirmed the production of a new model with a petrol engine to replace Elantra N – one with larger displacement. Currently, Elantra N has a 276-horsepower engine while a more substantial engine in the pipeline could rate at 290 horsepower. Hyundai is also considering the addition of an electric motor to boost power. Additionally, smaller hybrid vehicles might join Hyundai’s N car lineup if company executives approve.

Alternatives to Combustion Engines

Companies like Toyota are exploring alternatives to the traditional combustion engines for sports cars. Toyota is experimenting with hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines and has already tested GR Yaris and GR Corolla prototypes on the track. Another company, AVL Racetech, has engineered a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine running on hydrogen, posting a substantial 405 horsepower and 375 pound-feet (508 Newton-meters) of torque.

Synthetic Fuels: A Possible Solution

Porsche, on the other hand, considers synthetic fuels an optimal solution. The automaker has been producing carbon-neutral e-fuels since 2022 in its Chile factory. However, VW’s boss Thomas Schäfer, whose company is under the same Volkswagen Group as Porsche, views the discussion on combustion engine life extension as futile, dismissing combustion engines as “old technology.”


With the evolving automotive industry requirements, the future of sports vehicles might lean more towards electrification and alternative propulsion methods. Depending on the direction regulations take, vehicles with large-displacement internal combustion engines might be a thing of the past, opening doors for hybrid engines, electric vehicles, and innovative solutions like hydrogen and synthetic fuels. It will be interesting to watch how powertrain technology evolves while endeavoring to strike a balance between environmental stewardship, compliance with regulations, and maintaining a performance pedigree.

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