Is a Mid-Engined Hyundai Veloster Coming to America?

Hyundai RM15

Source: Hyundai

If you want a mid-engine car for less than $100,000, your current options are very limited and still pretty expensive. Porsche will happily sell you a Boxster or a Cayman, but even the cheapest Boxster’s base price is still over $50,000. You can buy a Lotus Evora, but those are hard to find and even more expensive. Technically the Corvette Stingray is mid-engined even though its engine sits in front of the driver, but you better have just as much money as you would for a Boxster if you want to buy one. For less than $50,000, buying a mid-engine car requires you to head to Craigslist and used car lots.

What if that changed though? Last May, Hyundai introduced the Veloster Midship concept in South Korea with no plans for production, only to explore possibilities for the Veloster’s chassis. It sounded like a one-and-done concept that was really cool but never had a shot at being produced, but then, at the Seoul Motor Show this week, Hyundai showed another mid-engined concept, the Veloster RM15. It’s a cool concept, but considering that the Midship has already been done, for a concept car, it’s not very special.

Even if it’s largely a rehash of the Veloster Midship concept, the RM15 is still a pretty cool and desirable car. It loses the Veloster’s small back door, becoming a true coupe, and gains an aggressive body kid and huge wing. With the engine in the middle, power is now sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The engine makes just under 300 horsepower and is capable of sending the car to 60 miles per hour in a little over 4.5 seconds. Part of the reason it’s so quick is that it’s built using an aluminum chassis and carbon fiber reinforced panels, which helps keep the weight down.

Curiously, while last year’s press release very specifically said that the Midship was not headed to production, Hyundai’s press release on the RM15 this year contains none of that same language. That may be an oversight, but it may also be very intentional. After all, a mid-engine Veloster was spotted driving around South Korea just the other day. Companies don’t normally bother to develop pure concept cars on public roads, but they do develop production cars on public roads. Does that mean that Hyundai is planning to sell a mid-engine version of the Veloster? I sure hope so, and I definitely hope Hyundai plans to sell it in the U.S.

It hasn’t been that long since Toyota sold the MR2 here, and that car was awesome. Don’t forget the Pontiac Fiero, the Fiat X1/9, and the Porsche 914 either. Buying a mid-engine sports coupe used to be much more common and affordable. Now, there’s nothing. The market is wide open for Hyundai to come in and sell something amazing. A 300 horsepower, six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive anything is cool, and putting all of that into a mid-engine Veloster would be extra cool.

150402_RM15-BIW-01

Source: Hyundai

It would be cool in the way that the BMW Z3 Coupe was cool back around 2000. It wouldn’t be for everybody, but the fact that it wouldn’t be trying to please everyone would make it even cooler. The best part is, if Hyundai did decide to produce a mid-engine Veloster sports coupe, there’s a very good chance that it would be sold in the United States. Hyundai understands the value of building its brand image, and it’s not afraid to take risks.

If someone had told you ten years ago that Hyundai would sell a luxury sports sedan that legitimately competed with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, you would have laughed that person out of the room. Now, go test drive a Hyundai Genesis 3.8 and tell me that, especially with dealer discounts, it’s not one of the best deals on the road today. That’s all because Hyundai took risks. Heck, look at the Veloster itself. An economy car with three doors and a hatchback that’s styled to look like a wild, hot hatch was a serious risk, and it paid off.

There are obviously no guarantees that a 300 horsepower, mid-engine Veloster would sell well, but who’s to say it isn’t at least worth the risk? It’s a cool car that would go far to improve Hyundai’s image, and it would offer something that no other company offers for less than $50,000: the balance and agility of a mid-engine sports car. The carbon fiber reinforced plastic body panels might have to go, and the concept’s aluminum construction might not be feasible, but the rest of the car absolutely is.

Judging by the version testing on the road in South Korea, Hyundai is clearly thinking about building it. Maybe it’s already been approved for production. Maybe it just needs a little more evidence of customer demand before it can pull the trigger. Either way, there’s no way that Hyundai has gone to the trouble of developing a mid-engine Veloster exclusively for the South Korean market. Let’s just hope that crossed fingers, prayers, and some polite emails are enough to convince Hyundai that a production version would be a great idea.

The U.S. needs a production version of the Hyundai Veloster RM15. Needs!

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