Hyundai at SEMA

The SEMA show is the highlight of the year for most automotive enthusiasts, attracting manufacturers, tuners, designers, and visitors from around the world. This year Hyundai invited me out to be their guest and see how the automaker is embracing the tuning and performance scene.

For this year's show, Hyundai partnered with some of the top tuners in the industry to build some unique concepts based on their most popular models, the Santa Fe, Ioniq Hybrid, Tucson, and Elantra. 

Hyundai Rockstar Energy took the Hyundai Santa Fe and created the "Moab" concept, an SUV that could tackle serious trails and had all the equipment required for a real off-road adventure. While in contrast, the Vaccar Tucson Sport concept was more track and performance focused with a sport-tuned suspension, wheels, aerodynamics, and a number of luxury upgrades inside including custom leather and infotainment systems. 

The two project cars featured in the Hyundai booth were also had two very different focuses. The first by Blood Type Racing was focused on turning the Hyundai Elantra Sport into a dual purpose street and track car. Featuring coil over suspension, performance and aerodynamic upgrades the car really did perform well on the track, then made the drive from Chicago to Los Angeles to prove that it was still a real useable street car. On the other end of the spectrum, our friends at Bisimoto Engineering took Hyundai's Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid and turned it into the HyperEconiq Ioniq. Through aerodynamics, lightweight wheels, and fine-tuning everything from the car including the motor oil, the team at Bisimoto was able to achieve over 80-mpg. 

The fifth car in the Hyundai booth and the one I was most excited about was the i30 N race car, the N is for Namyang, Hyundai Motor’s global R&D Center in Korea, and for the Nurburgring, home to Hyundai Motor’s European Test Center. The ‘N’ logo resembles a chicane, representing a class of corners on winding roads. 

The team at Hyundai built two special i30 N models (In the US the Elantra) to compete in the 24-hours of Nurburgring endurance. The famous Nordschleife circuit has become the favorite proving ground for car makers and the 1,800-mile race is the ultimate test of durability. The car that was featured at SEMA finished fourth in its SP3T class and 50th overall out of 109 competitors. Both Hyundai entries finished the race, in a field where 51 of the original 160 entrants retired for the end of the race.

The two cars were equipped with 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines in combination with six-speed manual transmissions, the same powertrain coming in the Hyundai i30 N-series model. Other than safety upgrades, racing suspension, and brakes the cars were essentially stock, including the bodywork. This was Hyundai's first real factory effort in road racing and while they don't have any plans to offer an Elantra GT body in white or cup racer at this point, the impressive performance has got engineers and executives in the company talking. 

The team at Hyundai are real automotive enthusiasts and I enjoyed spending a few days with them at SEMA, from playing Top Golf to talking racing over dinner with members of the corporate team I am excited to see what is next for Hyundai in the world of aftermarket performance and racing. 

For more on the SEMA projects visit the official Hyundai News site HERE.