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Future models - Hyundai - Genesis

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Genesis of an idea: Sleek Hyundai has a new 4.6-litre engine.

Australian consumers still ‘not ready’ for Hyundai rear-drive V8 prestige sedan

27 Mar 2007

HYUNDAI will reveal its first V8-powered rear-drive prestige sedan at the New York Motor Show on April 4, however the car will not be coming to Australia in the short term.

Hyundai Motor Co Australia (HMCA) this week ruled out importing the big sedan because it feels Australian consumers are not yet ready to pay prestige prices for a large luxury sedan with a Hyundai badge.

HMCA chief executive Steve Yeo has told GoAuto that the business case for Genesis would not stack up.

“There is no case at all if we can’t sell the product,” Mr Yeo said.

He said the disappointing sales performance of the luxury Grandeur sedan range, which starts off at $42,990 and peaks at $46,990, showed HMCA was not ready to start selling the car.

“At this stage, seeing our sales with the Grandeur, I don’t think we should bring in more luxury models to Australia. I don’t think it would be that successful,” he said.

Mr Yeo added that Hyundai models are much better than many Australians think.

“We all agree that the product quality is there, but still the perception for a bigger car is not ready,” Mr Yeo said. “We need a step-by-step approach to the market.” The Grandeur was re-introduced to Australia in February 2006. The previous model had been absent for two years after being dropped due to poor sales. HMCA confidently predicted the new model would sell 1000 in its first year, but only 575 Grandeurs were sold in that period.

The “Concept Genesis” that Hyundai is presenting in New York is a pointer to a large prestige sedan that will be introduced in the US in 2008.

The Genesis is powered by a 4.6-litre DOHC 32-valve “Tau” V8 that generates “well over 300hp” (224kW) and 300lb/ft (407Nm). The engine has continuous variable valve timing among its features and is mated to a ZF six-speed automatic (with sequential-manual shift control) and a limited-slip differential. Hyundai claims it enables the car to accelerate from 0-60mph (96km/h) in “well under six seconds”.

This is the first model to use a new Hyundai rear-drive platform, which could also be utilised for a sportscar to replace the ageing front-drive Tiburon. The platform provides a 53:47 front/rear weight distribution and “more refined” characteristics from the speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering. Hyundai also claims the car has a 12 to 14 per cent higher torsional rigidity and a lower body-in-white weight than the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-class.

1 center imageThe Genesis rests on a 2935mm wheelbase and measures 5005mm in overall length, 1863mm in width and 1490mm in height. The suspension is a five-link configuration front and rear, track is 1575mm/1580mm front/rear, and the wheels are 20-inch multi-spoke alloys.

Safety technology onboard includes stability control, traction control, eight airbags and active headrests. Braking hardware includes 320mm diameter ventilated discs up front and 314mm solid discs at the rear. ABS with EBD and brake assist are also fitted.

Standard equipment also includes adaptive cruise control, Xenon headlights (with adaptive levelling), a start button, reversing camera, electric park brake and satellite navigation.

Right-hand drive production is still to be confirmed, however overseas reports indicate the sedan will be built for markets outside the US. It is expected the production car will be built at Hyundai’s Alabama factory which is currently used to make the left-hand-drive Sonata and Santa Fe.

Hyundai has also confirmed that the car will be priced in the US below $US30,000, although in Australia it would attract a price of at least $A60,000.

It is likely to be badged as a Hyundai overseas, but could alternatively be used to launch the company’s luxury sub-brand that would work in much the same way that Lexus is linked to Toyota.

Despite the success of Lexus in Australia, Yeo said Hyundai would not be introducing the upcoming luxury sub-brand Down Under for some time.

“(We are) not quite ready to accept now in Australia, but surely in the future we will also have,” said Yeo.

HMCA might be committed to a prestige strategy in the long term, but it is about to target a different demographic with light commercial vehicles.

It wants a piece of the action that saw Kia sell 4500 Pregio vans in 2004 before the vehicle was phased out because it failed to meet emission laws at the end of the following year.

The new Hyundai van will go on sale here next January and Hyundai is currently discussing prices.

HMCA general marketing manager Oliver Mann said the introduction of light commercial vehicles would not damage Hyundai’s bid to move more upmarket, pointing to Mercedes as an example.

“Clearly when a brand like that is trying to position itself at the very top of the premium segment, and at the same time sell commercial vehicles, you might expect to see some impact on their image, but there is no measurable evidence that that is the case,” Mr Mann said. “I don’t think it flies in the face of image-building at all.”
What's coming from Hyundai:
Santa Fe 3.3 V6 June 2007
Elantra hatch October 2007
Light commercial van January 2008
Read more: Exclusive: Hyundai goes rear-drive

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