Hyundai Motor Company released ‘The New Avante N (The New Elantra N)’, a minor facelift model of the N brand’s signature model, Avante N, on Wednesday, the 26th of this month. The New Avante N is a high-performance version of the New Avante (Elantra) unveiled last March; This is based on The New Avante’s highly completed design, and reflects the dynamic driving sensibility inspired by motor sports throughout its body. It also differentiated itself from the base model by having high-performance technology that made it fun to drive on the track. After the New Avante N was released, it was praised by many: “the true semi-mid-size high-performance”, “inherited notorious cornering ability of Hyundai cars”, “The New Avante N with both design and performance”, “the everyday sport car with 280hp”, “the national high-performance car”, and “cost-effective race car on public roads”.
Although Hyundai Motor Company entered the high-performance car market later than European and Japanese brands, the potential and passionate spirit of the N brand, as well as its attractive power to captivate high-performance car enthusiasts, are significant. Among the strong players in the high-performance car market, the N brand focuses on three key elements: Corner Rascal, Everyday Sport Car, and Race Track Capability. Hyundai Motor Company also jumped into the fierce world of motorsports such as WRC and TCR, discovering and polishing high-performance technologies. And the experience and know-how gained in that way were incorporated into the N brand. The New Avante N, which has undergone partial changes, has integrated all these essences.
Avante N, launched in 2021, has solidified the foundation of the N brand both in Korea and abroad by putting forward the wide practicality and convenience of a four-door sedan that encompasses excellent driving performance, exhilarating driving fun, and everyday life. Two years after that, The New Avante N returned with a higher level of perfection by trimming the inside and out. Hwang Se-young, a researcher at Hyundai Motor Company’s MSV (MPV & Small Sized Vehicle) Project Team 1, who served as PM (Product Manager), explained how The New Avante N was improved in detail.
Q. Since the existing Avante N was already highly complete, it seems that there was not much room for improvement in The New Avante N. In what direction has The New Avante N been improved?
The main changes of the New Avante N are specifications specialized for high performance that can be conveniently and easily enjoyed in everyday life. On the circuit, the driver can directly feel the thrilling charm of the race by utilizing the specialized specifications of the high-performance N model, and also by enhancing the marketability, the convenience of the Avante is felt throughout based on excellent driving performance and stability on public roads. This is the result of tuning according to the direction of the N brand called Everyday Sport Car, and Race Track Capability. In addition, in terms of driving performance, maneuverability and response, ride comfort and stability have been improved to enhance R&H (Ride & Handling) performance.
Q. Please explain the major changes and improvements of The New Avante N from the R&H perspective.
First, two new technologies were applied in relation to steering performance. By tuning and improving the structure of the parts that make up the R-MDPS, steering response, direct connection, steering feel, and accuracy were improved. First of all, steering responsiveness and direct connection are enhanced through technology that increases the load of the yoke spring by about 20%, which allows the spiral shapes of the pinion and rack bar that connect the steering wheel and the wheels to engage well with each other. So, as soon as you turn the steering wheel, the wheels steer with considerable agility.
The second is a technology that enhances the steering feel and accuracy. The universal joint in the steering system bends like a human joint between the steering wheel and the wheels. This device transfers kinetic energy from steering wheel operation to the rack bar connected to the wheels, and at the same time eliminates road shock. By optimizing the shape of the yoke that goes into this, deformation is reduced when bolts are fastened, and durability against heat is increased by changing the welding process to an integral type. This reduces the unnecessary friction felt at first whenever the steering wheel is turned, allowing for smoother and more precise operation.
As mentioned above, these two technologies are intended to realize all of the direct steering feel, smooth operation feeling, and accuracy. To be specific, if only the strength of the yoke spring increases, the connection improves, but it can become stiffer because more force is required to turn the steering wheel. To mitigate this, the friction of the universal joint must be improved as well.
Q. Any changes in the suspension?
We increased the density of the bump stopper of the front wheel damper, and changed the insulator on the rear wheel to a urethane material instead of the existing rubber material. This compensates for the increased vehicle weight, improves both a more stable ride and agile handling, making the car easier to control. In addition, by improving the internal structure of the G-bush mounted on the back of the front wheel lower arm - which increases the cabin space - the fastening force with the subframe is increased. This improves the responsiveness of the vehicle. In addition, the rebound stroke of the rear suspension and the damping force of the damper were slightly increased to further improve stability and ride comfort, and to feel a strong sense of unity. As a result of several test drives at the German Nurburgring circuit, it was confirmed that this improvement enhanced body control ability.
Q. As the exterior design of The New Avante N changes - for example, a greatly changed front part, and changes in the shape of the bumper and diffuser - it seems that there will also be changes in aerodynamic performance.
The New Avante N follows the low and wide design of its base model, The New Avante, while applying a unique design that strengthens the presence of a high-performance model, such as enlarging the black trim at the front and rear and using a black emblem. At the same time, functional elements that help aerodynamic performance were also used.
For example, air resistance was reduced by optimizing the shape of the air curtains at the left and right ends of the front part, and a longer splitter at the bottom of the bumper improved both drag and lift. By applying a boat tailing design to the side of the rear bumper, the effect of reducing air resistance is realized while emphasizing the dynamic image; Boat tailing is the narrowing of the tail of a ship or boat inward to reduce air resistance. In addition, the optimization of the angle and length of the rear diffuser improved drag, and the overall aerodynamic performance was improved by adding an undercover to the side skirt mounted on the lower side of the body.
Q. The wheel design has also changed nicely. Please explain if there are any additional changes.
The New Avante N comes standard with a 19-inch cast wheel shaped like a cylinder of a revolver pistol, and a 19-inch forged wheel featuring a lighter weight and thinner spoke design is available as an option. This is for consumers who want to further enhance the vehicle’s R&H performance by reducing the unsprung mass.
In addition, the connection between the front muffler and the body has been increased from one place to two to help prevent load movement and motion suppression when driving on a track with high gravitational acceleration, making the fixing force more secure. In addition, due to the nature of a high-performance car, insulation has been reinforced to prevent damage to the front brake hose from heat under higher load, when driving on a circuit, for instance. The New Avante N is also characterized by the ESC specifications (Electronic Stability Control i+) that are suitable for the newly applied electronic parking brake (EPB) and smart cruise control (SCC), which enhance daily convenience (Korea only). This enabled the auto-hold function for the first time in the N model, enhancing marketability.
Q. In addition to smart cruise control and electronic parking brake, various convenience and safety features have been newly applied to The New Avante N. Thanks to it, it became more convenient and safer, but it seems that it made the car heavier instead.
The New Avante N is a model developed with the concept of ‘Everyday Sport Car’ that encompasses daily life and circuit driving, and contains the N brand’s philosophy that its customers should be able to drive conveniently and fun in everyday life. Therefore, in the process of improving marketability, it was necessary to pay more attention to the needs and voices of existing N owners. As a result, the automaker applied various new convenience specifications such as smart cruise control, electronic parking brake, afterblow, built-in cam, and surround view monitor (SVM).
In addition, 8 airbags, the highest in the class, were applied by adding body reinforcement and rear seat side airbags to improve side collision safety. Of course, the increased weight of the vehicle due to the installation of various convenience specifications and improvement work to reinforce crash performance becomes an obstacle to driving performance. However, through additional tuning, this shortcoming was offset as much as possible. In addition, even with upgraded convenience and safety performance, such as the application of additional lightweight forged wheels, it is designed to provide sufficient performance during circuit driving.
Q. How do you reflect the opinions of N owners?
A community of domestic and foreign N owners holds an event to celebrate the birth of the N brand on September 15 every year. This date is the official launching day of the N brand at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany in 2015. On this day, we share various things to enjoy with N owners, such as a track session and Gymkhana, and share feedback on the N brand and its marketability. Furthermore, by sharing about the direction of the N brand, they also predict its future. In addition, the faculties of Blue Hands, the service base of Hyundai Motor Company, collect consumers’ complaints and product-related feedback, in order to consider future improvements. As such, N Brand always listens to the voices of consumers, whether they are online or offline.
Q. There are not many models in the global high-performance car market that house as distinct charm, practicality, and convenience as the Avante N - even including the N brand models, this is rare. It also offers superior performance in many motorsport events. Were the experiences and feedback gained in this process reflected in the improvement work of The New Avante N?
In Europe, a major market for high-performance cars, the company successfully established the N brand by introducing the i30 N and i20 N in the traditionally popular hot hatch segment. On the other hand, the automaker launched the Avante N targeting the domestic, North American and Australian markets. It took a customized strategy to reach consumers who enjoy the specialized specifications of high-performance cars in everyday life while showing the essence of the internal combustion engine N model in the market.
The cycle of activities in motorsport and the development process of mass-produced cars dates back to 2011. That year, Hyundai Motor Company started a high-performance car development project. It started at the Nurburgring in Germany, and countless tests were conducted at the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam and Inje Speedium in Korea. Through driving to the limit in the motorsport circuit, which is an extreme driving condition, design/test standards in many areas, such as powertrain, stiffness, thermal management, and durability, have been enhanced.
In the early days of testing on the circuit, there were numerous problems with the engine, brakes, coolant, and more. However, by including circuit driving in the development process, the overall development standard was raised, and the problems caused by this were overcome and improved. As such, the high-performance N model undergoes improvements in many areas before release.
It’s not the end of the story; Based on the completed N model through these strengthened development conditions, race cars are created again, and these once again verify their performance in motorsport events. The performance of the N model has been verified numerous times through the 24-hour Nurburgring endurance race, which has been completed for 8 consecutive years, and the TCR series, which has been achieving excellent results around the world since 2018. The New Avante N has improved durability and driving stability, including the R&H performance mentioned above, while maintaining the existing powertrain performance.
Q. As you said earlier, Avante N-based race cars are being used in various motorsport events, including the Hyundai N Festival Avante N Cup one-make race in Korea. Were there any meaningful feedbacks from this process?
The history of Hyundai Motor’s one-make race has been going on for 20 years, from the Click Festival in 2003 to the Korea Speed Festival (KSF) and the Hyundai N Festival. Before the full-scale development of high-performance cars, big and small problems occurred in the extreme conditions of circuit driving, but these were not something that ordinary drivers could consider. We do not consider such extreme driving environments in the development process of mass-produced cars. However, as we started to develop the N model and began to include circuit driving conditions, the experience and know-how gained through motor sports activities gathered and created synergy, which was widely used in the development process.
I believe that these processes have helped to develop the N model with excellent performance and durability. Even now, the N model is showing excellent performance without any problems in motorsport events, and N brand owners are giving positive reviews. Of course, the problems that arise through motor sports are converged to the research center and reflected in the process of improving mass production models and developing follow-up models.
Q. I can feel that you are proud of not only the New Avante N but also its high-performance model. Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to consumers who have chosen The New Avante N?
I want to say The New Avante N is ‘the gift for myself’. The regular Avante is a car for those who are fresh out of college, and the Avante N is like a gift for myself who has been working hard. This car makes your dreams come true and stimulates your instincts. Those who want to take on challenges in pursuit of their dreams without hesitating any longer, and those who want to enjoy the true pleasure of driving, the time with The New Avante N will be most enjoyable.
Photography by Choi Dae-il and Kim Bum-seok
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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