What strikes you instantly about Hyundai’s RN22e ‘rolling lab’ idea is its sheer measurement greater than anything.
Stretching nearly 5.0 metres lengthy and almost 2.0 metres huge, this ground-hugging, full-tilt EV is a high-performance, monster-size model of the model’s upcoming Ioniq 6 all-electric sedan.
It’s not the primary time we’ve seen this prototype in motion, both. Earlier this 12 months at Hyundai’s Namyang proving facility in South Korea we noticed it testing, whereas solely a pair months in the past CarExpert’s Paul Maric additionally drove it in Germany (video beneath) after a comparatively deep dive into the expertise.
Nonetheless, that is the primary Aussie drive, and what higher circuit than The Bend in South Australia (West Circuit) to place the RN22e by its paces, however over simply 4 laps.
The bonus was that N-guru and chief architect of N sub-brand, Albert Biermann, together with Until Wartenberg; Vice President N Model and Motorsport, have been additionally available at The Bend to offer extra depth into this distinctive EV.
It’s a crucially essential prototype for Hyundai, because the carmaker ramps up its transition away from constructing inner combustion-engined vehicles to battery-electric automobiles, together with its performance-badged N fashions.
Curiously, whereas Until Wartenberg is adamant its ‘N division will proceed to construct extra reasonably priced ICE variations of its i30 Sedan N (Elantra in different markets) into the next-generation given the legions of followers who already personal such automobiles, the transfer to real high-performance electrical N automobiles is already properly below approach with the highly-anticipated Ioniq 5 N – slated for a late-2023 launch.
And, whereas nobody at Hyundai will neither verify or deny an Ioniq 6 N is within the making, it’s just about a positive wager it will likely be the second such all-electric performance-grade automobile constructed on the E-GMP platform that may observe its Ioniq 5 N crossover sibling – proper all the way down to the dual-motor, 77.4kWh battery set-up.
Even with the transfer to full electrification, Hyundai N remains to be chasing its authentic model declare of ‘By no means simply drive’, and the efficiency arm’s three pillars: nook rascal; racetrack functionality straight out of the field; and on a regular basis sports activities automobile.
That mantra and people pillars stay elementary to the continuing growth of the RN22e and certainly the forthcoming Ioniq 5 N, which remains to be a number of months away from getting ultimate sign-off earlier than going into sequence manufacturing.
Certainly, as a ‘rolling lab’ it’s a testbed for a bunch of recent performance-enhancing applied sciences distinctive to its EVs; akin to torque vectoring by twin clutches and 3D-printed elements that each decrease weight whereas sustaining chassis rigidity within the pursuits of ‘nook carving’ alone.
In the case of racetrack readiness, the RN22e focuses on superior cooling options and efficiency braking for sustained laps on observe. Moreover, the automobile is testing regen braking that controls yaw and cornering hundreds.
And whereas there are many naysayers greater than able to painting EVs as the start of the tip of efficiency vehicles, at the very least so far as the emotional driving expertise goes, the RN22e can also be a testbed for N Sound+ – a expertise that appears to generate a alternative of synthetic sounds reflecting completely different characters or moods by each exterior and inner audio system.
One of the attention-grabbing options in growth on the RN22e is a digital gearbox dubbed N e-shift, which simulates paddle-shifting on a present ICE-powered Hyundai N automobile geared up with a dual-clutch transmission, by combining vibrations and shift really feel with N Sound+.
There’s nonetheless quite a lot of fine-tuning to do earlier than Hyundai indicators off on the Ioniq 5 N or yet-to-be-confirmed Ioniq 6 N.
Given we already know sister model Kia’s EV6 GT rocket ship will put on a price ticket round $100,000, patrons ought to count on to be paying much more for the track-ready Ioniq 5 N when it launches regionally in late 2023.
It’s massive bucks for the Korean manufacturers, particularly given the Tesla Mannequin Y Efficiency – which Hyundai used as a efficiency benchmark for the Ioniq 5 N – is priced from $96,700 plus on-road prices right here in Australia.
Whereas the twin screens and even the instrument stalks appear to be they’ve been lifted straight out of an Ioniq 6, the RN22e is set-up for fast-paced observe work completely.
The idea’s cabin incorporates options akin to a security cage, racing bucket seats with harnesses, and the identical sort of detachable Alcantara steering wheel you’d discover in race automobile full with paddle-shifters.
Nonetheless, it received’t be too lengthy earlier than we begin seeing inside pics emerge of the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, which is certain to offer a window into what we will count on to see in an N model of the Ioniq 6.
Like all high-performance EV, the Hyundai RN22e employs two electrical motors – one on the entrance axle and one on the rear.
The entrance motor generates 160kW whereas the rear makes 270kW. Mixed, they generate 430kW of energy and 740Nm of torque.
The battery pack provides 77.4kWh of capability and 400V/800V charging structure for high-speed DC charging, AC charging and V2L performance.
It’s able to hitting 260km/h – quicker even than BMW’s flagship iX M60 (250km/h) – because of the automobile’s electrical motors which have the next most rpm. Hyundai elevated the restrict from 15,000rpm to over 20,000rpm.
Cooling is an enormous concern for electrical motors that spin at such excessive speeds, and it’s an space Hyundai has labored on tirelessly with RN22e. It’s not simply the intensive cooling ducts and intakes seen on the automobile, a few of which have made it onto the Ioniq 5 N, however general warmth administration has been improved significantly.
Examined on the 20.8km Nürburgring Nordschleife, the RN22e might barely handle a single lap within the early phases of growth, whereas Albert Biermann says it’s now able to finishing shut to 3 laps at race speeds. It’s spectacular stuff.
Even simply sitting in pit lane at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia, it’s an intimidating automobile, the RN22. It’s enormous in each approach, with intakes all-over and an enormous rear wing besides.
There’s a deep, demonic hum because the automobile sits idle inside and outside, however you may’t inform the place its coming from – it simply appears to radiate throughout with a faint burble that will get louder as you draw back and onto the observe correct.
We’re on the West Circuit – a 3.41km size observe that features all the straightaway together with 12 corners. It’s a comparatively easy-to-learn course and nowhere close to as technical because the longer and extra demanding East Circuit.
Thoughts, I’ve simply pushed greater than 40 laps in a wide range of Hyundai’s N vehicles; together with the light-weight and guide solely i20 N, together with a few i30 Ns together with the most recent limited-edition Drive-N – my new all-time favorite hatch – so I’m assured of having the ability to push the prototype round right here at a decent tempo with out worrying concerning the reality there’s solely two on the planet.
We’ve received 4 laps in whole, so two flying and one cooldown, the primary two in commonplace EV mode, and the ultimate two utilizing the simulated N e-shift mode through the paddles.
Right here’s the factor; with Hyundai’s wildly profitable N-Fest in full swing on the similar observe, we’ve received some site visitors, however whereas we will overtake different drivers they’re not presupposed to cross the EV. That’s a rule that wasn’t all the time adopted and that is one in every of solely two R22e prototypes in existence.
It feels good behind the wheel and it’s straightforward to discover a snug driving place. It’s additionally quick once you put the boot in, however nothing just like the Porsche Taycan Turbo S we examined right here a few years in the past.
I simply thought it could be quicker once you put the hammer down correct, however then once more, the Taycan makes upwards of 560kW of energy and 1050Nm of torque and might smash the 0-100km/h dash in 2.468 seconds. However it’s additionally more likely to be thrice the worth of Ioniq 5 N or Ioniq 6 N, and we all know N vehicles aren’t about velocity alone. Nook carving and driver really feel is what the N model is all about.
Nonetheless, the RN22e is a simple automobile to steer at tempo and push by the corners, whereas nowhere close to as intimidating because it seems. You’ll be able to cross an i30N being pushed properly at will, but it surely’s nonetheless not a very involving expertise to me.
The brakes, although, are past good. I’m hitting the 400mm hybrid stoppers on the 180m braking mark, and that’s approach too early for this factor – there’s a number of regen at work right here once you come off the throttle that helps wipe off buckets of velocity.
Subsequent time round I transfer the braking level to only 150 metres whereas nudging greater than 200km/h and even that feels a tad too early, but it surely’s an enormous, heavy machine that suggestions the scales at round 2.2 tonnes. You’ll be able to really feel the burden shift on turn-in too, so it’s straightforward to run huge and miss the apex should you mess up the braking.
The steering, although, is superbly exact and correct with good weighting. I most likely could possibly be pushing a bit tougher, however the engineer using shotgun appears happy not be a passenger in one other tank-slapping incident that I witnessed earlier with one other driver. In spite of everything, that is one in every of solely two examples on the planet, so that you wouldn’t wish to bin it.
Third lap in and he provides me the sign to tug each paddles concurrently to interact the N e-shift system. That is what I discover most fascinating and distinctive to Hyundai as far as I’m conscious.
It feels and sounds such as you’re correctly banging by the gears for actual, proper as much as the redline; however as an alternative of working out of revs and banging on the rev limiter, it simply runs out of steam. That’s going to be fastened, in line with Biermann.
“We’re nonetheless engaged on that, however sure, each simulated gear shift will embody the noise and really feel of reaching the rev-limiter, simply as you get in one in every of our ICE N vehicles with DCT,” he stated.
Apart from that perform, it’s as actual as should you have been rowing by the gears on an ICE automobile and subsequently extra enjoyable to drive than in the usual EV mode with out the paddle-shifters. However, there’s nonetheless not sufficient audible character to excite – at the very least once you’re on the transfer – like BMW has developed for its i4 M50 and iX M60 fashions, which manages to be emotionally partaking to the driving force.
Little doubt that may come quickly sufficient, and one of many Ioniq 5 N’s cool options within the months of growth time remaining with the RN22e. In reality, Biermann has already stated drivers is not going to solely be capable to not solely choose between a number of sound characters units, but additionally create and creator their very own set of sounds and even obtain new sounds ‘over the air’.
4 laps isn’t almost sufficient time behind the wheel to get to know the RN22e correctly, sadly.
However, it’s greater than sufficient to counsel Hyundai is aware of create a high-performance EV able to delivering the identical sort of emotional enchantment as its present line-up of reasonably priced, track-ready combustion-engined N vehicles do.
Clearly there’s nonetheless loads of work to be finished to carry all of it collectively within the EV area, however given simply how shut they’re with the RN22e, we will’t wait to get behind the wheel of the upcoming Ioniq 5 N and Ioniq 6 N.
If the idea is something to go by, they’re seemingly going to be a cracking first go at electrical N vehicles.
Click on the pictures for the complete gallery
MORE: 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N teased
MORE: Hyundai RN22e revealed