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Hyundai’s iMax N ‘Drift Bus’ is no joke

Australian skunkworks creates bonkers iMax N ‘Drift Bus’ that money cannot buy

18 Oct 2019

FOLLOWING an April Fools joke from its German counterpart, a crack team from Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) has built the ultimate people-mover, with the one-off iMax N dubbed ‘Drift Bus’ due to its strong appetite for burning rubber.


Under the bonnet, the regular iMax’s 2.5-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine has been replaced by a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 pumping out more than 300kW of power and 555Nm of torque – more than enough grunt to easily shred a set of tyres.


Drive is exclusively – and appropriately – sent to the iMax N’s rear wheels, while an in-house eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission is responsible for swapping gears. A zero-to-100km/h sprint time of less than five seconds is promised.


While the sight of the iMax N drifting is sure to be a delight, its visual performance is combined with aural pleasure thanks to a bi-modal exhaust system that provides an entertaining soundtrack.


The iMax N follows in the tyre tracks of the Ford Transit Supervan and Renault Espace F1 and is therefore not the first one-off performance van, but it is the first to maintain its eight-seat configuration so that up to seven passengers at a time can enjoy its sideways antics.


In fact, HMCA says the iMax N achieves perfect 50/50 weight distribution when all of its seats are occupied, further improving its handling prowess alongside a corner-carving differential.


Suspension-wise, the iMax N gets electronically controlled dampers, while its brakes have also been upgraded, sitting behind 19-inch alloy wheels borrowed from the i30 N hot hatch. Just do not expect the performance rubber that they are wrapped in to last long.


For the iMax, the N treatment extends beyond its mechanics, with N Performance Blue paintwork applied alongside a front splitter, side skirts, a rear diffuser and a rear spoiler, while front sports seats and a steering wheel from the go-fast catalogue are found inside.


The other six passengers are not getting the raw end of the deal, either, as the middle and rear rows’ three-seat benches are trimmed in matching suede and leather.


With 842L of cargo capacity still available, the iMax N has enough room for carrying spare tyres, or as HMCA suggests, an entire pit crew. Either way, it resets the storage standard for performance models.


HMCA conducted a poll on social media to see what model fans of the South Korean brand’s N performance division wanted to see get the go-fast treatment next. The iMax finished in second place behind the Tucson mid-size SUV that “would have been too easy”.


As such, the iMax N came to fruition, but this one-off example is neither a production model nor road legal, so its ‘abilities’ will be limited to the racetrack.


Speaking of which, the iMax N makes its global competition debut this weekend at the 2019 World Time Attack Challenge at Sydney Motorsport Park, competing in the Clubsprint Class, Flying 500 and Drifting Cup.

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