Automakers are insecure entities: On top of wanting to sell cars, they also want to be revered and beloved. And as companies, such as Toyota, know, being the biggest volume seller doesn’t automatically equal respect. No, one of the best ways to build credibility is to do something entirely irrational: Invest in performance.
Simply put, winning races brings buyers to showrooms and lends a legitimacy to a brand no amount of ad placement could ever hope to achieve. Fast cars mean good engineering, a level of discernment on the customer’s part, and, of course, that sexy element of danger. And it can carry across a whole lineup, too. Suddenly, buying a bland crossover isn’t as bad if it’s from the same company that wins big in NASCAR or endurance racing.
That’s why in recent years, automakers around the globe have begun to invest billions in creating batches of small-run performance cars that have high visibility but limited appeal. Taking a look at today’s automotive landscape, we found 10 marques that have committed to selling fast cars in order to spread the gospel of their brand and make American roads a livelier place. Here they are, beginning with the latest and strangest.
When you think performance, Hyundai might not be the first brand you consider. But that might change very quickly.
Since 2011, the Korean brand has had an engineering center at the Nürburgring, the brutal German race track where many of the world’s best sports cars are tested. For 2018, Hyundai will launch the N-Performance sub-brand. We can expect red-hot versions of the Veloster and Elantra GT designed to take on cars, such as the Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen GTI, and Honda Civic Si.
Next: This automaker invented the idea of the in-house tuning company.