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This 799-horsepower mid-motor electric race car gives us a glimpse into the future of Hyundai's N Performance sub-brand.
Hyundai's N-Performance sub-brand is not big in concept cars, at least not in the traditional sense. Unlike the superficial glitz of the auto show model, the group prefers that its scientific projects have the essence of a rolling development platform. Witnessing the evolution of its RM prototype, the company has been using it since 2012 to improve its performance spirit and enrich its new technology, mainly focusing on the mid-mounted internal combustion engine power system. But in order to show how its RM plan is connected with the fast-moving electric car world, Hyundai Motor invites us to drive its latest version of the 799-horsepower RM20e on a challenging track.
Seeing that we have launched a 276-horsepower 2022 Elantra N sedan on the ups and downs of the Sonoma Raceway in California, our driving timing is very convenient. But it is also important: Hyundai has many electric vehicles in its product line, including at least one dedicated performance model, and the company has established an important development partnership with Croatian electric vehicle start-up Rimac, which is a feature The manufacturer of the powerful Nevera supercar.
In modern terms, RM stands for the placement of the rear mid-mounted powertrain, which gives these prototypes favorable weight distribution and flexible handling. They have traditionally used Veloster hatchback body shells with adjustable control arm rear suspension and lateral four-beams, tucked into the places where the rear seats and cargo area used to be. The most recent iteration took the form of a captive racing car; the RM19 we drove before was a modified version of the company’s TCR racing car, equipped with a 390-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed sequential manual transmission. But the RM program has played an important role in the development of new production components, including an active exhaust system, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission currently used in several Hyundai Motor Group vehicles.
RM20e is the first electric RM model. Based on the RM19 and its EV counterpart in the emerging ETCR racing series, the RM20e is a set of flared fenders, carbon fiber and roll cage tubes, equipped with aerodynamic accessories and uniforms inspired by wiring diagrams. It is undoubtedly a racing car, with sports seats with seat belts and a fixed racing steering wheel. However, it shares many internal parts with Veloster N, even pedals. The large six-piston front brake calipers and the four-piston rear brake calipers are measured by a racing-grade ABS system. The 19-inch front wheels and 20-inch rear wheels are covered with DOT-approved Pirelli P Zero rubber instead of smooth tires. The sizes are 265/35ZR-19 and 305/30ZR-20, respectively.
Through the rear hatch, you can see the Rimac label attached to the rather small (60.0 kWh total capacity) battery on the top of the rear axle. With a sturdy 800-volt output, the lithium-ion battery pack powers four motors installed in pairs to power each rear wheel, thereby realizing the torque vectoring function. With a maximum output of 799 horsepower and 708 pound-feet of torque, the battery can be charged from 0% to 80% in the claimed 30 minutes. The RM20e weighs more than 4,100 pounds, which is half a ton heavier than the RM19, but we have no reason to doubt Hyundai's claim that it can reach 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and 124 mph in 10 seconds.
RM20e is noisy for electric cars, we mean it as a compliment. In addition to the whining sound of a direct drive gearbox with straight-cut gears, a series of speakers and amplifiers installed in and outside the car can produce a variety of sound and vibration curves, from the real hum of the electric motor to the deeper , A drum inspired by V-8. The latter will never be confused with the small rumble, but it does make the car produce an effect of unstable idling when parking. Stepping into the surprisingly progressive accelerator with your toes, the sound becomes a sharp tremolo, joining the fast-noise chorus from the cargo area. It is fully programmable and adds some welcome entertainment to the often dull atmosphere of driving an EV-Hyundai said that the system can even simulate gear shifts for additional theater-this is from some of the best surviving four Appropriate technology for cylinder engine manufacturers.
RM20e is 5.3 inches wider than Veloster N, but its axles are only about 1 inch apart, which is 105.2 inches. Due to its squat footprint and rear weight bias, it is not the easiest car to drive quickly. Braking on corners or disrespecting the throttle, it will bite and break free in a noticeable but controllable slip-even if the power is turned off and the multi-level traction control is fully activated through the buttons on the steering wheel. But once it adapts to the ease with which the car rotates around its central axis, it will feel balanced and responsive, with laser-like sharp steering and absolutely zero body roll. As we went from the warm-up on the autocross to the lap time of the Sonoma circuit, our confidence grew. The full impact of the instant torque of RM20e presses you on the seat back, eliminating the short linear distance in the blink of an eye, and the noise of the audio system raises the excitement to our expectation of 799 horsepower. The biggest challenge comes from playing with various levels of regeneration under the brakes (effectively changing the brake balance) and adapting to the seemingly endless power band, with no gears to shift gears.
Modern engineers are obviously eager to talk about the next N model, even if they are still tight-lipped about the details, they only hint at the N drift mode and promise to provide more details soon. Also of continuing interest is the company's commitment to hydrogen fuel cells, which gave birth to portable fuel cell generators for charging the RM20e and the 671-horsepower Vision FK concept sports car recently co-developed with Rimac. The technology may go further into the product line, but experiencing the RM program firsthand makes us excited about the future of modern high-performance cars, no matter what their wheels are.