The Veloster N is a fun car, making the driving experience a pleasure for many. Proudly polished at the harsh tracks of the Nürburgring Nordschleife (northern course of the long-distance circuit at Nürburg, Midwestern Germany), the high-performance car feels comfortably home on the race circuit.
The N Cup, a one-make race featuring exclusively the Veloster N, is thus one of the most sought after events during the Hyundai N Festival. The participants are exceptional, and so is the competition. But the festivities aside, there is one comment that the racers seem to invariably say: that the Veloster N is an intensely drivable race car that can endure any extreme condition or maneuver.
The results of the four qualifying races at the Veloster N Cup Masters Race, held August 10~11th last year at the Inje Speedium, bears out this comment. Racer Kim TaeHee came in the first during the qualifying stage, reaching the pole position*, but her lap time was merely 0.9 seconds apart from that of the 11th-finisher Kim HyoKyum. The difference of less than a second resulted in the difference of 10 positions in the ranking—and such a tight level of competition is uncommon in other one-make races.
The closely packed finish times are likely due to the ease with which the drivers could adapt to the vehicle and reach its performance limit. We interviewed the racers in the ongoing competition and discussed their hands-on experiences with the Veloster N race car.
*pole position: the position, at the start of the automobile race, on the inside of the front row of the competitors. As the most favorable starting position, it is awarded to the 1st place finisher at the qualifying race.
Born to Rock the Circuit:
the Veloster N
We first interviewed racer Kim TaeHee, who finished with the fastest lap time in the four qualifying races. She emphasized that the Veloster N is meaningfully different from other one-make race cars. “The Veloster N Cup uses the high-performance Veloster N, which was of course built with the circuit in mind. That’s why car troubles are rare in this race,” Kim said.
“With other racecars, accelerating takes frustratingly long because the gear ratio is too long, and the intercooler capacity is sometimes too small as to overheat by the second half of the race. But with the Veloster N I have had no such problems,” Kim added. In other words, the Veloster N does not show diminished performance even at the end of the race, allowing the racer to keep at his or her own pace. Having undergone rigorous tests at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the Veloster N steadily maintains its performance even in extreme racing conditions.
The N’s Corner Carving Differential:
Drawing up a Sharper Cornering
The LSD (Limited-Slip Differential) was commonly cited as the reason for the closely packed finish times. In normal vehicles, driving a corner directs the driving force of the vehicle to the inner wheel where the grip is weak, resulting in a loss of power. The LSD functions to direct the driving force equally to both the inner and the outer wheels. The mechanism is a common feature for four-wheel-drive SUVs, but it is used in high-performance cars or motorsports cars for maximizing cornering ability. To that end, the Veloster N is equipped with the electronically controlled mechanical LSD named “N Corner Carving Differential.”
Park DongSup, nicknamed the “Inje Speedium Killer” for his trophies at both the third and the fourth stages, spoke about the N Corner Carving Differential. “Even when turning corners at extreme speeds, the LSD on the Veloster N stabilizes the car by dividing the driving force appropriately onto the wheels on either side. What that means is that the driver can just focus on the steering wheel and the accelerator. Ideal cornering is made effortless in this vehicle,” said Park, in praise.
Park also heaped praise upon the Veloster N’s chassis. “One advantage of the Veloster N is in build quality. Gaps are extremely rare, and the steering and the suspension are so intuitively designed as to require no tuning. Even the bush (rubber connecting the suspension and the body) comes in two forms*, so the car boasts comfortability not only for circuit driving but for everyday driving.
*N Power Sense Axle: the Veloster N’s front/rear axle. It is designed to be rigid enough to deliver the force from the powerful engine onto the ground and maintain stability, providing quick and easy maneuverability to the driver.
*depending on the horizontal/vertical orientation, different materials were used for the bush to improve stability and NVH(noise, vibration, and harshness).
Research Engineer Kim JaeKyun from Hyundai’s Electronics Convenience Control Test Team, who also suits up for participation in the N Cup, shared Park’s opinions. “In any race, the ability to subtly maneuver the steering wheel and the acceleration pedal is absolutely paramount. But even if the driver were to somewhat lack that ability, the N Corner Carving Differential can mask that weakness by controlling the force distribution and refining the cornering,” said Kim. “As a result, all players’ records are leveling up.”
Kim added, however, that the N Corner Carving Differential is not simply about reducing the race time. “Normal all-wheel-drive cars without an LSD can’t speed up when exiting the corner because of the understeer problem (where the car turns more sharply than is intended by the steering). But the Veloster N does come with the LSD, so speeding is possible while cornering. Lateral acceleration, too, will increase naturally, and hitting the corners become just so much pleasurable.”
Replacing The Racer’s Essential Technique
There is another function that received an almost unanimous reference: the engine rotation correctional device applied to the 6-speed manual transmission, called ‘rev-matching.’ When downshifting, rev-matching pre-adjusts the engine’s rotation to the rotation speed of the drive shaft, thereby reducing the shock from the gearshift and helping to maintain body stability. With the rev-matching function onboard the car, the racer no longer has the need for the otherwise essential heel-and-toe* technique, thus reducing the physical burden on himself or herself.
*heel-and-toe: a racing technique used in downshifting whereby the driver uses his right toe to apply the brakes while simultaneously applying the heel on the accelerator pedal. The technique adjusts the engine rotation to match the rotation of the driveshaft and is considered an essential technique for any racer.
Racer Lee JaeShik, who has been very successful this season, was effusive about the new Veloster N’s rev-matching feature. “Rev-matching has made the heel-and-toe technique obsolete. Heel-and-toe used to be the bread and the butter of every racer, a sort of continuously in-use passive skill. But make one mistake with it, and you not only suffer a time loss but also cause a burden on the transmission and decrease the car durability long-term,” he said. “But with the Veloster N, I can simply focus on the cornering line and the other racers. Really, the rev-matching function is a godsend.”
Research Engineer Yoon JuHyeok from Hyundai’s Steering Engineering Design Team, also a participant in the N Cup, shared his words about the convenience of the rev-matching function. “Heel-and-toe technique is especially important while braking. It need not be said that braking ability is one of the core abilities of a racer, which means that the rev-matching function serves to reduce the gap among the racers in that core ability. When getting out of the corner, the LSD helps the racer draw a crisper line, so he or she can be more audacious and speed up.
Yun added: “That’s why the Veloster N Cup is paradoxically a more difficult race. Thanks to the vehicle’s offerings, the gap between the racers’ abilities is condensed. One mistake, and the place on the podium can change. It’s a much tighter, nerve-wracking race as a result.”
Veloster N, Producing a Faster
and Safer Race
Meanwhile, as many drivers said, the reason why the N Cup has proceeded without much difficulty or accidents despite entering the second half of the season is due to the efforts of those responsible for the N Cup’s safety. Numerous engineers from Hyundai’s Namyang Institute, also the home of the N, were in attendance at the circuit to inspect the N racecars before the race.
Research Engineer Kim JongHyuck from Hyundai’s Advanced Engine Development Team says, “To ensure fairness, we check the cars for illegal hardware or ECU tuning before the race begins. After the race, we inspect the engine and analyze the ECU data to monitor the possible occurrences of abnormalities or unusual happenings. The data accumulated from harsh racing conditions are tremendously helpful in the institute’s future R&D efforts.”
He also added a few words about his memory of an old race featuring the first-gen Velosters, which at the time was managed under KSF(Korea Speed Festival). “Race cars intended for motorsport are placed under conditions that are much harsher than those for regular driving,” he said. “So the early gasoline 1.6 T-Gdi engine had a number of big and small problems as the KSF season progressed. The analyses of those problems, though, were a big help in improving our engines. The Veloster N is the fruit of the efforts from those eras.”
All the N Cup participants in the interview agreed that the Veloster N is ‘driver-friendly.’ A sturdy chassis that can more than endure the strength of the 275 hp powertrain, a stable performance regardless of the racing conditions, and convenience features and safety mechanisms that allow the racers to focus on the race itself—all these traits, the racers say, ensure a faster and safer race for the viewers as well.
Indeed, the Veloster N allows the drivers to more easily tap into the maximum potential performance of the vehicle than ever before. The Veloster N Cup is the manifestation of that capability: the race has become tighter than ever before, and nerve-wracking finishes have become the standard. It is no wonder that the race is increasingly catching on with motorsport fans.