Hyundai will exploit its return to international rallying next year by launching a range of high performance road cars.

A new sub-brand, Hyundai N, is being created as the umbrella for the performance models. The two i20 cars which will contest all 13 rounds of the World Rally Championship will carry N branding, as will the team personnel clothing.

No announcement has been made about which models will be given the N treatment, or when the first will appear, but Hyundai Motorsport president GH Choi says that further details will be revealed soon.

"Our entry into the championship is intended to raise expectations for the next generation of road cars and the image of Hyundai," he added. "It will have a positive long-term impact on the whole brand."

In Cheol Lee, vice-president of the Hyundai business division, said: "The lessons we learn from the championship will be poured into our road cars of the future."

Hyundai has built its world rally team from scratch in less than a year rather than go to an established motorsport outfit to run its challenge. The team is based at Alzenau, in Germany, close to the company's European headquarters near Frankfurt and its European research and development centre at Russelsheim. It now employs 90 people from 18 different countries.

The i20 rally cars have completed almost 5,000 miles of testing on asphalt, gravel, snow and ice roads in France, Germany, Spain and Finland ahead of their WRC debut at the Monte Carlo Rally in mid-January.

And why Hyundai N for the performance sub-brand? Group president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer said: "It's a letter that nobody else is using. It's also the first letter of our European test centre at the Nurburgring and our research and development headquarters at Namyang in Korea."

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