Hyundai turns an eight-seater van into a 402-hp drift machine
21 October 2019 - Autoblog
The list of modifications made to the iMax is extensive
Hyundai's go-fast N division followed up on the 275-horsepower Veloster N by turning a homely, people-carrying van into a professional drift machine. The conversion was carried out by the South Korean firm's Australian division, and it was built to hit the track.
Don't worry if you didn't realize Hyundai makes a van in the first place; the model isn't available in the United States. Called iMax, it's about the same size as a Mercedes-Benz Metris, and it's offered in both people-carrying and cargo-hauling configurations in dozens of global markets. It's these bones that Hyundai selected to build a vehicle for competitive drifting. The list of modifications is extensive.
Mechanics sent the iMax's 2.5-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder back to the parts bin and replaced it with a 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbocharged engine to make 402 horsepower and 409 pound-feet of torque. It spins the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai hasn't released photos of the engine bay, so we don't know what kind of crafty fabrication work it took to shoehorn a V6 in the iMax's rather tight space.
Builders then turned their attention to the chassis, which is normally configured to haul plywood, not to haul you-know-what. The iMax received an electronically-controlled suspension that keeps the copious body roll in check, and, significantly, bigger brakes on both axles. The end result is a commercial vehicle that takes under 5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, and that boasts 50/50 weight distribution — with eight passengers on-board, that is.
Hyundai could have caught enthusiasts by surprise if it had left the van stock; imagine it painted white, fitted with unpainted bumpers, and dropped on standard steel wheels. Instead, it applied a coat of N Performance Blue paint, added 19-inch alloys from the i30 N sold overseas, and installed a custom-made body kit that adds a front splitter, side skirts, a roof-mounted spoiler and a rear diffuser. The interior gained a new steering wheel, and N Sport seats for the front passengers.
Enthusiasts curious to see a minibus take a corner sideways will get the chance to check out the Drift Bus in action during the World Time Attack challenge that started today, Oct. 18, in Sydney, Australia. The van will participate in the Clubsprint Class, in the Flying 500, and in the Drifting Cup. As for what comes next, don't expect to see anything like it in showrooms. Hyundai N is working on adding more high-performance models to its range, but a rear-wheel drive van isn't one of them.