It’s becoming increasingly hard to remember the time when Hyundai made cheap and not-so cheerful tat. The Korean company’s mainstream stuff has successfully pushed upmarket, and it produces an (expanding) range of very good hot hatches.
Hyundai has even made a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive prototype called the RM19, and now, there’s a follow-up: the RM20e.
The body of the RM19 has clearly been used as a starting point, but that car’s 385bhp 2.0-litre inline-four turbo engine has been ditched for a purely electric powertrain. It features a 60kWh battery pack plus a large electric motor, the latter element of the setup placed in the middle of the car and driving the rear wheels exclusively.
You’re looking at 800bhp and 708lb ft, more than enough power to make up for the inevitable weight gain associated with switching internal combustion for electric power. 0-62mph takes less than three seconds, while 124mph from rest is dispatched in a mere 9.88 seconds.
It features a MacPherson strut front/double-wishbone rear suspension layout, with the braking taken care of via six-piston calipers at the front and four-pot calipers at the rear. To ensure the RM20e is able to leave the line without depositing a load of rubber on the tarmac, the 20-inch OZ forged wheels at the rear (19s are used at the front) are wrapped in 305mm-wide tyres. Interestingly, Hyundai appears to have used some fairly ordinary Pirelli P Zeroes, as opposed to soft, track-biased rubber or full racing slicks.
Although Hyundai’s ‘Racing Midship Sports Car’ programme will eventually yield a production car, the RM20e - as with the RM19 - is intended as a “rolling lab” to test electric technology that’s intended for road use. With assistance from Rimac - which Hyundai owns a small part of - there are 44 “eco-friendly” models planned by 2025.
Speaking about his new electric baby, former BMW M man and Hyundai R&D boss Albert Biermann said:
“Our new electrified RM20e pushes the proven RM platform forcefully into a new, environmentally-focused decade of the 21st century, stretching the performance envelope of electrification on normal road environments.
“RM20e represents a revolutionary new chapter of electrified performance for the Racing Midship series, and our N engineers continue to garner valuable insights in the arena of zero-emission performance dynamics.”