Hyundai reveals wild 577hp RN22e concept

Ioniq 5 N confirmed, N Vision 74 unveiled and an Ioniq 6 concept as well – it's a big Hyundai N Day this year!

By Matt Bird / Friday, 15 July 2022 / Loading comments

It says something of Hyundai N’s progress that even five years ago nobody outside the company had driven the i30 N. Now that car is an established hot hatch great, and has been joined in the N range by the equally excellent i20 N and Kona. Soon, too, we’re going to have the most powerful N model ever join the line-up, with Hyundai today confirming that an Ioniq 5 N will be available from 2023.

Which, given all that’s been achieved by both the standard car and the N division, has the potential to create something brilliant. And while there’s nothing more than a confirmation of the 5 for the moment, Hyundai’s latest rolling lab concept – the RN22e – should give us a few pointers about what’s to come, based as it is on the Ioniq 6. Well that, and the fact Hyundai calls it a “glimpse of upcoming EV N…”

Of course, there’s big power (577hp and 546lb ft, same as an EV6 GT), big attitude (those are 21-inch wheels) and big skid potential (given the smoke) but what’s most exciting about the RN22e concept is the attention that’s been paid to the driver’s enjoyment as part of the process. All too often EVs, even the ostensibly driver focused ones, leave something to be desired. Hyundai says it knows what “exhilarates enthusiasts”, and is putting that knowledge into evolving this concept and the eventual production cars. Features include N Sound+ for a “dynamic driving feel” as well as N e-shift that complements the sound with vibration and “shifting feel”. The ‘corner rascal’ character first trotted out by Albert Biermann all those years ago will make it to the electric era, too, now with torque vectoring by twin clutches and 3D-printed parts that reduce weight and increase stiffness.

Huge 400mm brake discs are said to lap up track use (pun very much intended) “without derating”, and Hyundai is working on “how to deliver dynamic movement with regen braking that precisely controls yaw and corner attack”. Which sounds a lot like regen agitating the RN22e to point the nose right onto an apex and, if so, we say keep working on it.

The rest of the RN22e overhaul will look familiar from other N flagships, furthering the impression that this is rather closer to a production Ioniq 6 N than its ‘rolling concept’ billing would imply. It’s obviously lower and wider, but keeps the 2,950mm wheelbase – and having E-GMP stickered down the side means nobody will forget about the road car platform that’s underneath. The trademark blue paint features with the red accents, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres are a vaguely sensible profile (and a huge 275-section at the front, which will help with corner carving) and even the spoiler doesn’t look completely daft. Though the Ioniq 5 N is coming first, this sort of visual makeover applied to the hatch-SUV thingy could work really well.

It says something of Hyundai’s current form that perhaps the best looking concept of 2022’s N Day is the car that’s mentioned last. Following such knockouts as the Grandeur and Prophecy, the N Vision 74 once again combines an old school Hyundai design with modern Ioniq influences to create a jaw-dropping concept. Back in 1974 there was a Pony Coupe Concept penned by Giugiaro; sadly it never reached production, though Hyundai claims its “daring attitude set the tone for the entire company” – and now it’s back in spectacular style for 2022.

Pretty cool, right? Part Lancia 037, part DeLorean, part Ioniq 5 and perhaps part IMSA Audi with those wheels and arches, the N Vision 74 might be the best looking Hyundai ever. Hyundai says the design has also been influenced by the Vision Gran Turismo car that launched the brand in 2015, and suggests that its design heritage “meets the electrification era with high performance to shape N Vision 74.” The concept is 4,952mm long, 1,995mm wide and 1,331mm tall.

The concept doesn’t merely evoke the VGT with its look, either; like the Gran Turismo creation, the N Vision 74 is a fuel cell electric vehicle. Its hydrogen powertrain is all new for this project, reflecting Hyundai’s ongoing commitment to FCEVs. Presumably it doesn’t see the future as entirely BEV-based. Interestingly, too, the N Vision 74 can be powered by either the fuel cell or battery power, where typically it’s the hydrogen-powered cell that produces electricity and that’s the sole source.

“By having fuel cell system and battery-electric powering the N Vision 74 together, the cooling efficiency is improved, while the two different power sources can be used depending on different driving conditions”, says the press release. Don’t ask us how a hybrid structure of battery electric in combination with a fuel cell works.

Numbers look good, though. There’s a max power claim of more than 670hp and torque in excess of 664lb ft, which ought to be sufficient to do justice to the looks. Battery capacity is rated at 62.4kWh, with the same 800v architecture as the production Ioniqs; the hydrogen tank apparently weighs just 4.2kg and can be refuelled in five minutes. When you can find a filling station. But presumably the battery could be replenished by a charger as well if we’ve understood the new powertrain correctly. To be honest the N Vision 74 could be powered by an i10 engine and it would still be interesting.

“RN22e and N Vision 74 play an important role in the strategic development of our entire product line-up, especially our electrified, high-performance vehicles,” said Thomas Schemera, who is Hyundai’s – deep breath – Executive Vice President and Head of Customer Experience Division. That sort of statement furthers the idea that cars like these really will fuel the future of fast Hyundais, which sounds great. He added: “Rolling labs represent the continuous development of our most advanced technologies. This unique approach makes us ready for the challenges of the future by empowering us to push ourselves to the limit.” Once upon a time the rolling labs concept were cars like the RM15, a 300hp 2.0-litre turbo Hyundai; that seemed far-fetched in the days of the Veloster, and now it’s the i30 N. So this surely won’t be the last we hear of the N Vision 74 and RN22e – that Ioniq 5 N is a matter of months away, too…

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