There’s something unbelievably awesome about a mid-engined hatchback.
Maybe it’s the extreme transformation from practical vehicle to performance flight of fancy, or the pedigree of models like the Peugeot 205 T16, MG Metro 6R4, and Renault Clio V6, but there are fewer cooler things to do than shove an engine where it doesn’t belong.
That’s exactly what Hyundai did with the RM15 concept, a mid-engined Veloster-based show car that debuted this week at the 2015 Seoul Motor Show.
While it may look like Hyundai’s funky three-door hatchback on the outside, the RM15 (short for Racing Midship 2015) is almost completely custom.
It features an aluminum spaceframe with carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels. The result is a car that weighs 430 pounds less than a conventional, steel-chassied vehicle.
Subframes to hold the suspension and running gear are bolted to the lightweight chassis, along with a racing-style roll cage.
Making the most of all of this serious hardware is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mounted behind the front seats but ahead of the rear axle. Those intake scallops on the sides of the body are the real deal.
The engine produces 295 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque, which is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Hyundai says the RM15 will do 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds.
Most mid-engined hatchbacks of the past have had some association with rallying, and that’s the case with the RM15 as well.
The concept wears a livery similar to the one on Hyundai’s current i20 World Rally Championship (WRC), which also promotes the company’s nascent “N” performance brand.
So far, putting the letter “N” on rally cars is the only thing Hyundai has done with the brand, although officials have discussed building a WRC-inspired performance road car.
That worked pretty darn well for Subaru with its WRX, and Mitsubishi with its Lancer Evolution, so why not Hyundai too?
Expect the engine in that sporty Hyundai to be in front of the driver, though.