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Future models - Hyundai - Coupe - FX

Hyundai's coupe de grace

Sharp shooter: Hyundai's new Coupe may silence critics who say the current model is ugly - or perhaps not.

Hyundai's new Coupe promises sharper performance to match its chiselled lines

Hyundai logo8 Aug 2001

By GAUTAM SHARMA

HERE is a close representation of what the next-generation Hyundai Coupe - due here early next year - will look like.

This spy pic reveals the South Korean car-maker is ditching the rounded, bulbous lines of the current coupe in favour of a more hard-edged shape.

Its dramatically revamped appearance may silence critics who say the existing coupe is an unhappy mishmash of curves and edges.

Apart from the new-look shape, the next Coupe also promises sharper dynamics than the existing car as it is based on the same platform as the Elantra, launched here last October. The mid-size sedan is generally regarded as the best-handling car Hyundai has offered here.

But the big news lies under the new Coupe's bonnet, where a V6 engine will be offered for the first time. This powerplant is not an unfamiliar one to Australian buyers as it provides the motivation for the Trajet people-mover.

The 2.7-litre six-pot cranks out 132kW and 247Nm, which should be enough to endow the Coupe with performance to all but match the Toyota Celica - which has slightly more power but significantly less torque.

The existing Coupe's 2.0-litre four-cylinder is also expected to be carried over.

The Coupe has been a steady sales performer for Hyundai, racking up 1007 sales last year after benefiting from a facelift in late 1999.

But Hyundai's model pipeline includes a lot more than the new Coupe, with three model introductions pencilled in for later this year.

First cabs off the rank are the Lavita mini-people-mover and revamped Sonata, both of which are due in October.

The Lavita will be pitched against the likes of the Daewoo Tacuma, Kia Carens and Renault Scenic, so expect it to be priced around $27,000.

The heavily updated Sonata gains the Trajet's 2.7-litre V6 in lieu of the current 2.5-litre unit so performance should be appreciably sharper. It is also claimed to offer better handling and refinement levels.

Hyundai will round off the year by adding the Terracan/Highlander large off-roader to its lineup in late November.

Hyundai Australia spokesman Richard Power could not confirm which nameplate the big four-wheel drive would wear.

The vehicle is known as Terracan internationally, but the company also has "dibs" on the Highlander name locally. Mr Power hinted both names may be used in some way.

A new small car that will revive the Excel nameplate is also in the pipeline and Mr Power confirmed the budget-beater was due here next year - but he would not specify exactly when. The new Excel will again take Hyundai into $13,990 territory - a domain it abandoned with the launch of the Accent.

Hyundai insiders suggest the new Excel will be smaller than the last car that wore the badge.

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