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AIMS: Hyundai pulls Accent surprise

Surprise sprung: Hyundai will launch two new Accent variants next month - a sedan (left) and a hatch.

Not one but two Accent models to come from Hyundai next month

1 Jul 2011

HYUNDAI will fire a double-barrelled shot at Australia’s red-hot light car segment in August, when it launches not just one but two all-new Accent models.

The surprise news was revealed at today’s Australian International Motor Show opening in Melbourne, where Hyundai revealed a plethora of new upcoming products, including the just-released small Elantra sedan, both sedan and hatch versions of the redesigned Accent light car, the mid-size i40 Tourer and the dashing Veloster coupe.

Hyundai had previously confirmed the all-new Accent sedan will be released Down Under next month as an upmarket four-door to complement both the top-selling Getz hatch range, which has ceased production and will be discontinued here within months, and more expensive i20 hatch line-up in the light-car segment.

Now, however, it has announced its decision to introduce the equally stylish five-door Accent hatch alongside the ‘mini-Elantra’ Accent four-door next month, representing a four-pronged assault on the light segment alongside the i20 hatch and, for now, the all-conquering Getz.

“HMCA will be launching the Accent hatch alongside the sedan in the coming weeks,” said Hyundai Motor Company Australia chief executive Edward Lee.

1 center imageFrom top: Hyundai Elantra, Veloster, i40 wagon.

Hyundai would not comment on Accent specifications, pricing or either model’s market positioning, but it is clear both the 1.6-litre hatch and sedan will be pitched above the Indian-built i20 hatch, which opens at $15,490 plus on-road costs in 1.4-litre three-door guise, and below both the small i30 hatch (from $19,590 plus ORCs) and the new 1.8-litre Elantra sedan, which was launched this week with a starting price of $20,590 plus on-road costs.

Of course, the departure of the evergreen Getz, which can be had for just $12,990 drive-away and continues to be Australia’s top-selling light car this year but has been eclipsed by the i30 as Hyundai’s most popular model, will leave the Korean car-maker without a bargain-basement B-segment model for the first time since it arrived in Australia in 1986.

“Accent sedan and hatch will help consolidate Hyundai’s position both in the middle and at the top – rather than the bottom – of the light car segment,” said HMCA director of marketing Oliver Mann.

Mr Mann would not comment on whether Hyundai plans to reduce i20 pricing in the absence of Getz, but confirmed the Indian-built i10 city-hatch had been ruled out for Australia – at least in its current generation – partly because it did not achieve a maximum five-star safety rating.

“We’ve been asked a great deal about how we’ll replace the Getz,” he said. “With Getz leaving we recognise we’re leaving the bottom end of the light car segment.

“Five years ago Getz represented 45 per cent of our sales. We were a Getz-based car company. Now we sell a significant number of i30s, ix35s and Santa Fes and clearly we see the Accent as an opportunity to move up within the light car segment.

“The decision not to bring the i10 was not just about safety but other issues including supply. Hyundai has a 20 per cent share in India, where it is in big demand. (But) What happens with future generations is now more open.

“Hyundai is a modern, premium brand and a five-star NCAP rating is part of being a premium car-maker.”

Dressed in the same ‘fluidic sculpture’ exterior design language as the Elantra, ix35 compact SUV and i45 medium sedan, the Korean-built Accent sedan and hatch became available overseas in November and March respectively.

Hyundai says it will stand out from the light car pack – which will also be joined within months by a new Korean-built Barina range from Holden and a new Japanese-built Yaris line-up from Toyota – by combining style, luxurious specification, cutting-edge technology, performance, efficiency and a “raft of active and passive advanced safety features”.

Hyundai also used the Melbourne show to stage the Australian public debut of the German-designed (and diesel-powered) i40 Tourer before it hits local showrooms around October.

The similarly European-flavoured i40 sedan remains under consideration for Australia, where it would be sold alongside the i45 sedan and i40 wagon in a triple attack on the medium car segment.

Hyundai’s cheeky Veloster 2+1-door coupe will follow the i40 Tourer on sale here in November or December, powered by a new Gamma 1.6-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine that is said to deliver estimated highway fuel economy of up to 5.9L/100km, matched with either a six-speed manual or all-new six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) developed by Hyundai.

Hyundai said Australian specification Velosters will be fitted with the highest standards of safety equipment, including a new sophisticated VSM electronic stability control system and a full complement of airbags.

Mr Lee also formally confirmed the next-generation Genesis Coupe – due to emerge by 2014 – will be produced in right-hand drive configuration for Australia, but the success of HMCA’s mid-size model strategy will dictate whether it can establish a business case for the next-generation large Genesis sedan in Australia.

Finally, adding some concept car spice to Hyundai’s Melbourne show stand was the futuristic hydrogen-powered Blue2 fuel cell electric sedan, which debuted at the Seoul motor show in April to demonstrate Hyundai’s commitment to releasing its first fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) on sale by 2014.

The Blue2, which features side and roof cameras instead of wing mirrors and automatic door opening, is powered by a fuel cell electric system delivering 90kW of power and fuel consumption of 2.86L/100km.

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