Hyundai prides itself on offering a lot of value for the money, but company representatives are also quite jazzed about the new Veloster N TCR, a race track version of the sporty Veloster N three-door hatch that’s a wee bit out of most people’s price range. The standard Veloster N costs $26,900, while the performance version starts at $29,000 (both excluding $920 in freight charges). The new Veloster N TCR, on the other hand, costs $150,000. So why is Hyundai excited about someone buying a Veloster that costs about five times as much as the next most-expensive Veloster? It’s all about the company’s new brand strategy.
Hyundai’s self-declared focus over the past few decades includes value-for-money (in the 1990s), quality (2000s), design (2010s) and now, finally, performance with the development of the N sub-brand. During a recent event at Hyundai’s California Proving Grounds to drive the Veloster N and get a ride in the Veloster N TCR with some of Hyundai’s professional drivers, Derek Joyce, Hyundai’s senior manager, product and advanced powertrain PR, said the Veloster N represents, “the next stage of Hyundai performance.”
To try and attract more attention for the N version, Hyundai formed a racing partnership with the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) team. In September 2018, BHA drove a Hyundai i30N TCR to a win in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship. This was followed in November by an announcement that the Veloster N TCR would compete in races in the U.S. This new Veloster was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2019 and made its racing debut at the Daytona International Speedway on January 25th. The first Veloster N TCR will be shipped to the U.S. February 26th. It costs $155,000.
Sales of the Veloster N TCR will obviously be limited, but the price is not that far out of line with other TCR series models. The Honda Civic Type R TCR, for example, costs around $148,000. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR is around $136,000. And the Audi RS3 LMS touring car racing model costs around $146,000. Bryan Herta, the president and CEO of BHA, said in California that he thinks the Veloster N TCR is great value in that field.
“We compete some other great brands in TCR, like Audi and Alfa Romeo,” he said. “I believe our car has the lowest cost of entry, and it’s the best car.”
Back on road where you have to worry about being street legal, Hyundai has high hopes for the Veloster N, especially since the company’s N vehicles are more than just performance-looking bits (that’s more the domain of the company’s “N Options” offerings). The Veloster N offers performance tech like rev matching, a wide variety of customizable settings in the “N Grin” control system (a total of 1,944, Hyundai claims) and a specially tuned exhaust that creates loud “pops” when slowing down. Called Dynamic N Sound Control, this is a different technological approach than the way Active Sound works in the non-N Veloster, and it’s meant to give the driver more information about the way the car is behaving, Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s vice president of product, corporate and digital planning said at the Proving Grounds:
Race car drivers look at every possible input to help them make sure that they’re maximizing the performance of the vehicle. One of the things they use is the popping sound that happens when you decelerate. There are so many things going on in the car they’re not sure what’s happening. When you hear the popping sound, you know you’re decelerating. So we actually built in the pop and crackle that you have in a race car when you have [the Veloster N] in sport modes, so you know when you lift throttle, and it’s also a very exciting sound. Basically, the way it works is that just like in the old days, when you had a carburetor, and when you lift throttle a little extra fuel ends up going through exhaust and burns and makes that popping sound. In our case, we actually inject a little bit of extra and retard the timing so it doesn’t burn until it gets into the exhaust.”
This article originally appeared on Forbes