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Hyundai RM16 N mid-engine hatchback might be real

Spy photos look just like the concept shown earlier this year.

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So, remember the Hyundai RM16 Concept? The South Korean automaker showed the mid-engine concept at the Busan Motor Show earlier this year, giving the world a glimpse of the menacing and mean future of the N performance brand. While we liked the look, we also lamented that "it doesn't seem any closer to reaching production." Looking at our latest round of photos from the Nürburgring, we might have been a smidge wrong.

This car looks exactly like the RM16. Same huge flared fenders, same deep front intake, same rear bumper, and same side scoops for feeding the mid-mounted, 300-horsepower, turbocharged engine. Yes, we said "mid-mounted." While it's easy to see a mid-engine concept and figure, "Meh, it's just an auto show car, the real one will be front-engine, front-drive," it certainly doesn't seem to be the case here, judging by the swollen rear aches, camouflaged rear windows, and enormous side scoops. Really, the similarities between the car shown above and Busan's RM16 is staggering.

If we're seeing the production RM16, it's a huge deal. First, because mid-engine, rear-drive hatchbacks are one of the craziest and rarest automotive species - see the Renault 5 Turbo, Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport, and Lancia Delta S4 for examples. Second, and obviously, a mid-engine Hyundai would mark a dramatic departure from today's crop of all-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks, like the Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus RS. We're guessing Hyundai's car would enjoy both better handling and lighter weight, while asking drivers to sacrifice most of hatchback practicality.

We also don't really know what to make of Hyundai's testing regime. According to our spies in Germany, Hyundai did a single lap of the Ring before heading out. Wet conditions could have called for a shortened day, but it seems odd to come out of the garage for a single lap, weather be damned.

At this point, it's genuinely difficult to predict what Hyundai's up to. This car looks relatively finalized, right down to the tongue sticking out of the grille that could be a radar unit. We can't begin to predict when or where this car will debut, if at all. The Geneva Motor Show is a good bet, but that's a total shot in the dark on our part. All we know is that we would love it if this is Hyundai's first N Performance car.

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