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Geneva show: Hyundai previews i40

Go with the flow: Hyundai's "fluidic-design" i-flow might go on sale in Australia.

European version of Hyundai’s new Sonata foreshadowed at Geneva by i-flow concept

Hyundai logo3 Mar 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

HYUNDAI has confirmed Korea’s redesigned Sonata medium sedan will go on sale in Australia within months carrying an i45 badge, and now it has revealed a concept that heralds an even sleeker European version, which could go on sale here next year.

The ‘i-flow’ sedan concept made its world debut at the Geneva show, alongside a hydrogen fuel-cell electric version of Hyundai’s newly released ix35 compact crossover and a cosmetic upgrade for the super-popular i30 small-car, which enters production from March.

Revealed in a design image prior to Geneva, the i-flow takes the “fluidic” design language first seen on the ix35 to new levels and should also be applied to the European-oriented VF-series derivative of Hyundai’s new YF-series i45/Sonata.

Hyundai says the i-flow’s aerodynamic lines - and the employment of next-generation materials and technology developed with leading chemical company BASF - contribute to an average CO2 output of just 85g/km for the sleek concept, which is powered by Hyundai’s first diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain.

While the i-flow’s seats and centre console are made from lightweight BASF materials, its diesel hybrid drive system comprises a new 1.7-litre engine with two-stage turbocharging, a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and a lithium-ion polymer battery pack.

Riding on a 2800mm wheelbase and measuring 4780mm long, 1850mm wide and 1420mm high, making the i-flow’s proportions are more akin to a coupe than a traditional mid-sized family sedan, Hyundai says the i-flow is a test bed for new “energy harvesting ideas”, including flexible solar panel roofing to a thermo-electric generator that uses exhaust heat to produce power.

1 center imageLeft: Hyundai i-flow. Below: Hyundai i30 facelift.

The resurgent Korean maker says the show car’s “looks and technology point the way to a new D-segment family car which Hyundai plans to launch in early 2011”, but has provided no further information on the production model.

Likely to join this year’s YF i45, which will come to Australia exclusively with 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol power, next year’s i40 is expected to be available in Europe with 1.7, 2.0 and 2.2-litre diesel engines, plus 1.6 and a 2.0-litre petrol engines.

Like the outgoing Sonata, the mid-size i45 sedan – which is already on sale in Korea as the new Sonata – is expected to significantly undercut the price of Toyota’s top-selling Camry (from $29,990) and the popular Mazda6, against which both the i45 and i40 were benchmarked during development.

While the i45 will continue the current Sonata’s three-box sedan configuration, the exact nature of the i40’s body style remains unknown. The i-flow concept suggests the VF will adopt a five-door liftback-style body, but Hyundai Motor UK president Ken Lee has indicated the i40 may appear first as a wagon.

“The D-segment is an important one for us across the whole of Europe, and it is due to market demand in mainland Europe that Hyundai will make an estate and saloon version of the i40, and not a hatchback,” he said.

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