skip to content
Article

The Marriage Between WRC And Project RM: The New i20 N

Hyundai Motor has released new videos showing its high-performance models including a prototype of the all-new i20 N. The Hyundai i20 N is a high-performance model that houses Hyundai's latest technologies the company developed through the project RM.

The video first shows i20 coupe WRC, not i20 N, running on a huge meadow covered with thick snow in Arjeplog, Sweden. The sun has not come up over the horizon yet. Hyundai WRC driver Thierry Neuville is driving it as if he is on a race.

Then the video cuts to the RM19, skidding sideways along the road and leaving a plume of snow in its wake. Neuville is pumping the pedals and expertly maneuvering the prototype, the latest Racing Midship(RM).

The viewer gets just partial glimpses of the new i20 N Prototype as it drives across the snow.

The camera cuts again, and this time we see a prototype of the all-new i20 N, with a camouflage covering over its front and rear. The viewer gets just partial glimpses of the new model’s details as it drives across the snow.

And here comes the question: i20 N is debuting, but why are they showing the i20 coupe WRC or RM19 in the first place?

The High-performance N that grew up with WRC and the Project RM

The High-performance N, WRC rally cars, and the Project RM have been bonded together since 2012.

Hyundai Motors first announced its High-performance N brand back in 2013, after the company started its development and established Hyundai Motorsport GmbH(HMSG) in 2012 to join WRC. Hyundai also began its Project RM back then.

After then Hyundai Motors joined WRC 2014 with its own i20 coupe WRC and won in the Rally Germany for the first time. RM14, the first model of the Project RM, was released in the same year at the Busan Motor Show. The company also made its High-performance N brand, when Albert Biermann joined the company as Executive Vice President from BMW M.

The High-performance N, WRC rally cars, and the Project RM have been bonded together.

With the launch of Hyundai’s first high-performance model i30 N and gaining enormous popularity among European consumers and auto magazines, Hyundai Motor Company planned the Project RM(Racing Midship) to develop the technology for high-performance cars. And after taking the 2nd place at the manufacturer’s championship in 2017 and 2018, and becoming the champion in 2019, the Project RM’s stages of development consummated the recently unveiled RM19.

The Project RM and the WRC cars brought the new Veloster N with 8-speed DCT to life.

If the FIA World Rally Championship, where Hyundai N took the manufacturer championship, could be called the testing arena and the cradle for the N Model, the Project RM could be considered the technological bridge between the N model and motorsport, a high-performance lab on circuit. From the i30 N to the new Veloster N with 8-speed DCT, it looks like Hyundai is completing its high-performance N lineup pretty well.

i20 coupe WRC, full of high-tech features, was based upon its mass-produced twin, i20.

WRC becomes a good opportunity to test and experiment with the technologies that an automaker possesses. The difference that WRC has between other motorsports is that its regulation mandates that the rally cars are made similar to their mass-produced models as much as possible, including the size, structure, and chassis geometry. The participants can’t even use expensive materials. Following all these guidelines and regulations, Hyundai developed its i20 coupe WRC.

Thanks to these regulations, automakers can use the technologies they developed from WRC for their mass-produced cars, and vice versa. This virtuous circle has created the high-performance N models, such as i30 N, Veloster N, and i30 Fastback N.

The powerful, durable engine of the WRC rally car ended up being in the N model as well.

WRC becomes a good opportunity to test and experiment with the technologies that an automaker possesses. The difference that WRC has between other motorsports is that its regulation mandates that the rally cars are made similar to their mass-produced models as much as possible, including the size, structure, and chassis geometry. The participants can’t even use expensive materials. Following all these guidelines and regulations, Hyundai developed its i20 coupe WRC.

Thanks to these regulations, automakers can use the technologies they developed from WRC for their mass-produced cars, and vice versa. This virtuous circle has created the high-performance N models, such as i30 N, Veloster N, and i30 Fastback N.

The third-generation i20 and i20 coupe WRC both grew by learning from each other.

These rally cars not only contributed to the high-performance N models but also to the regular models. i20 is one of the examples. Since the rally car was based on i20, the development and improvement of those rally cars could be also used for developing i20. As it upgraded to the second and the third generation, both i20 and its WRC model showed better performance, which led to winning the 2019 manufacturer championship.

Since 2012, the Project RM’s R&D efforts encompass a wide range, including powertrain, chassis, body, suspension, and aerodynamics, all intended for application to high-performance cars.

The technology in development then is subjected to real on-road tests. As the name RM—Racing Midship, not FF(Front engine-Front wheel drive)—suggests, the focus is particularly on developing high-performance rear-wheel-drive cars. The midship structure places the heavy engine in the middle of the car and thus has advantages in weight distribution and body rigidity. As a result, many sports cars have traditionally used the midship structure.

Since RM14, the Project RM’s R&D efforts encompass a wide range, including powertrain, chassis, body, suspension, and aerodynamics.

To this point, Project RM has revealed a total of four concept cars from RM14 to RM19. The RM14 had a midship engine structure resembling a pure sports car. The RM15 made remarkable improvements in the chassis. Aluminum skeleton and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) exterior shell resulted in reduced weight by 132 kilograms. The technological know-how from the RM14 and the RM15 was then translated into the RM16. Then the RM16 showed an aerodynamically optimized design and was equipped with a 48V electric supercharger, and a digital variable exhaust system for improved driving performance.

The latest RM19 features all of Hyundai’s brand-new technologies.

Legacies of racecar are readily noticeable in the exterior design as well. All exterior panels of the RM19 show an aerodynamic design. Taken together, the RM19 produces a massive 190kg of downforce at the speed of 200km/h. The peak power was increased to 390 hp, and the maximum torque to 48.4kg·m. The RM19 uses a front McPherson strut and a rear double wishbone, combined with a hydraulic damper with adjustable damping force (3 levels).

Hyundai Motorsport has been testing out new technologies on a series of these RM models from RM 14 to RM 19. RM serves as a test bed or rolling lab to develop and test new ideas.

The turbo engine and its aerodynamic design for better downforce, along with the variable exhaust system, all came from the project RM. These improved N models again contribute to making the better RM series, and the circle goes round and round.

Racing cars developed for motorsport indeed serve as an inspiration for the N lineup, Hyundai’s high-performance production-car range with racetrack capabilities.

Consumers are looking forward to Hyundai’s i20 N housing the technologies that came from the Project RM, the High-performance N, and experiences of motorsports.

So, apparently, the i20 N trailer showed the latest i20 coupe WRC and RM19 for a reason. And a good one – to show that Hyundai has become more passionate and confident making high-performance models, and it was through its WRC cars and the project RM.