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Hyundai Sports Car Plans Postponed in Favor of Practical Upgrades

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The Hyundai PassoCorto concept

Hyundai has established itself as a brand known for value and practicality, appealing to thrifty middle-class drivers looking for stylish sedans with reasonable features and prices. However, the brand has yet to really establish a loyal following of customers based on emotional appeal.

Hyundai has been considering ways to increase its emotional appeal to buyers by tossing around options that would draw excitable reactions rather than purely pragmatic interest. The most apparent path for the past couple years seemed to be a sports car, a segment where the automaker hadn’t established itself (apart from the mildly successful Genesis Coupe and Veloster).

The idea for a Hyundai sports car originated with the reveal of the PassoCorto concept at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show. This bright orange sports coupe powered by a rear-placed, four-cylinder bi-turbo engine was speculated to be the basis of a brand-new sports car in Hyundai’s lineup positioned below the Genesis Coupe.

Now, according to Hyundai UK CEO Tony Whitehorn, the brand has shelved its plans because the sports car market “is shrinking dramatically, and even firms with heritage and a great product are struggling.” While the Mustang and Corvette might remain popular in the United States, both models have a long-established reputation and American following–one that an Asian brand would struggle to compete against.

The biggest proponent of the premium sports car was Hyundai Europe’s former senior vice president, who wanted such a model to compete with other European brands. Unfortunately, that approach wouldn’t work for the brand globally and has been abandoned since the VP’s departure.

Two alternative plans are now being discussed: sprucing up Hyundai’s existing lineup (including the 2017 N brand launch) and releasing the Santa Cruz, which Hyundai is already making cuts to prepare for.

News Source: Autocar