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Hyundai Australia details i30 wagon

Load-lugger: The Hyundai i30 wagon will hit local showrooms from the first half of 2013, with at least two specification levels and both petrol and diesel engines on the cards.

Fleets to breathe easier thanks to Hyundai Australia’s i30 wagon about-face

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Hyundai logo2 Nov 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

HYUNDAI’S surprise decision to bring the European i30 wagon to Australia next year, after repeatedly ruling it out, resulted from a perfect storm of economic conditions and a concerted push from its disappointed local fleet department.

The company raised a few eyebrows at last month’s Australian International Motor Show when it announced a reversal on its previous decision not to import the car, which until that point was deemed too expensive due to it being built solely in the Czech Republic.

This meant that unlike the i30 hatch, the Tourer wagon could not be sourced from South Korea, but lobbying from Hyundai’s local product planners and fleet department, plus a surplus of stock due to slack European demand, allowed Hyundai Australia and the factory to come to an accord.

The company confirmed to GoAuto this week that its Tourer launch line-up, due in the first half of 2013, will comprise “at least” two specification levels – likely the fleet-friendly base Active and mid-range Elite variants – and both petrol and diesel engines.

These engines are likely to be the Euro-spec 99kW/164Nm 1.6-litre petrol – rather than the 110kW/178Nm 1.8 found in Australian examples of the hatch – and a 94kW/260Nm turbo-diesel.

Hyundai Australia has also confirmed that strong exchange rates mean it is “targeting” a similar $1500 price differential between the new wagon and hatch as was found on the previous-generation model, even though the hatch comes from a more economically friendly South Korean plant rather than Europe.

This would point to entry pricing for the Elite petrol of around $22,500 plus on-road costs – provided the company offers a six-speed manual option – topping out at close to $30,000 for the top-spec diesel.

At this starting price, the only real competition on the horizon appears to be the Holden Cruze wagon due at the start of next year, with other European rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra respectively starting from a higher $26,990 and $27,990.

As before, Hyundai’s local arm hopes the wagon will comprise around 20 per cent of total i30 sales, pointing to monthly sales of around 500 units, around three-quarters of which will go to fleets.

HMCA business sales general manager Dan Hawkins told GoAuto that, as the person in control of nationwide fleet sales, he was disappointed when told the second-generation wagon would not make it to Australia, and had pushed hard to bring about the reversal.

“I head up our fleet sales department, and obviously the old i30 wagon was pretty important to our sales success in fleet, so I was fairly insistent on working with our product planning department to get the car into country,” he said.

“I was one of the loudest voices internally making sure we got the wagon going forward.

“We’ve obviously done the hard work in creating customers and we’ve converted a lot of customers out of larger wagons and into the i30, and they’re all very happy with the car, so it was disappointing when we weren’t initially going to be able to bring it.”

Interestingly, HMCA has been offering cargo barriers and floor conversions – where a wooden floor is laid down and a cargo barrier placed behind the front seats “like a mini panel van” – on the i30 hatch to keep fleet customers going for the interim.

The i30 wagon is 185mm longer than its hatch sibling at 4485mm. At 528 litres, its cargo capacity is 150 litres more than the hatchback’s (378 litres), extending more than three-fold to 1624 litres with the rear seats folded.

By opening up shipping lines with the Czech plant in Nosovice, Mr Hawkins echoed the sentiment of fellow Hyundai Australia executives that it could potentially make it easier to import other Hyundai model built solely in Europe, like the new i30 three-door hatch.

The chic hatch is rumoured to be in-line to receive the Veloster SR Turbo’s 155kW 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, giving Hyundai its first genuine hot hatch.

Such a vehicle would be right at home in Australia, alongside the less potent i30 and Accent SR warm hatches announced at last month’s Sydney show and on-track to hit showrooms in the first half of 2013.

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