The Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car is an annual competition that pits some of the most highly modified cars in the world against each other. On the track. Where performance counts. We’re talking Camaros, Corvettes, Mustangs, GT-Rs, RX-7s. Well, you get the picture.
But Hyundai is sending some unusual suspects to the contest. The new Veloster N and the electric Ioniq. And the latter is a defending class champ.
These are far from stock vehicles. Even the Ioniq, and yes, that’s an electric-only Ioniq, has been transformed into a tuner car.
Out with the puny 120 hp motor that comes stock. In with the much larger motor from the Kona. 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque are along for the ride. That means 0-100 in 5.8 seconds and 160 km/h in 15.7. Putting that electric power down to both wheels is a Drexler limited-slip differential with 7.05:1 gearing. EVs use some strange ratios, since they can spin to much higher rpm than a gas engine.
The suspension has been modified with stiffer springs and a lower ride height. Six-piston front brakes and four-pots in the rear help bring the car to a stop. At the corners are absolutely massive 275/35R18 Bridgestone RE-71R tires. These are seriously sticky trackday tires.
Since EV tuning is a challenge, and heat is the enemy, the car has an upgraded radiator and larger electric water pumps to help keep the battery cool. Even dedicated ducting from the AC helps keep the electrics cool.
The Ioniq EV won its class last year, though the fledgeling GTE only had two entrants. Both Ioniqs. This year, competition is tighter with Tesla Model S and X entrants and a Chevy Spark.
The Veloster uses a 2.0L turbo four with 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. That’s the power level of the standard N. But this one wears a Remus cat-back exhaust and intake, so it might get a little more grunt than stock. It also gets a brake upgrade thanks to Wilwood, with six-pot front and four-pot rear callipers. The springs are 30 mm lower H&R units and Hyundai has added subframe bracing to stiffen the chassis further. The suspension damping is electronically controlled with multiple track modes. The car wears 245/35R18 Bridgestone RE-71R tires and it has a full roll cage.
The competition includes five different events. A design contest examines the quality, innovation, and workmanship of the build. A road rally of up to 160 km proves that some of these monsters really are streetable, a braking test, autocross runs, and road course laps where they’re trying to set fastest lap.
Both cars need to finish well in one of the regional events to qualify for the 2018 Ultimate Street Car Invitational. That one takes place in early November following the SEMA aftermarket trade show. Hyundai says the event will give them performance data and help introduce the N brand to more drivers.
First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Veloster
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