Former BMW M Boss Albert Biermann spent decades at the Bavarian brand and helped create some truly iconic cars. Now, though, he’s working for Hyundai/KIA, which is a bit of an odd jump. However, it’s actually a very interesting project for Biermann, as he’s heading the Korean brand’s N Division (see what they did there?) and it’s a performance subdivision if Hyundai that’s showing some real promise. Surprisingly, though, it seems as if Biermann is a bit bitter about his time at BMW M and is much happier at Hyundai N.
One of his first projects is the Hyundai i30N, a small hot hatchback that focuses more on driving fun and dynamics than it does on power. It’s a very promising little car and one we’d very much like to drive. Biermann has taken his expertise from working at BMW and poured it into the i30N, creating what he says to be a very fun, very driver-focused hot-hatch. What’s interesting, though, is that Biermann has now said that he’s offered more freedom at Hyundai than BMW, even taking a shot at the M Division.
When speaking with Top Gear, Biermann recently said “My degree of freedom here is much bigger than at BMW,” he tells us. “Now M badges go everywhere in the BMW range, but when I was there I had to fight like crazy for every car. Here I am more than welcome to do whatever I think we need to do.”
That criticism about M badges being on everything is not unique to Biermann. The introduction of M Performance models, and M badges on normal cars with even just M Sport packages on them, has drawn the criticism of journalists and enthusiasts alike.
Now, in terms of pure performance and driving thrills, you can’t compare Hyundai’s N Division with BMW M. Though, that’s not to say that can’t change. “You cannot compare Hyundai performance cars to those from brands like Mercedes or BMW… yet,” said Thomas Schemera, another former BMW M employee who worked with Biermann during his time in Bavaria.
What Hyundai’s N Division is doing is very impressive stuff and we’re excited to see what becomes of it. It’s also interesting to note that Albert Biermann seems happier where he is now than when he was with BMW M.