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Hyundai i45 within four months

Name game: The Hyundai Sonata is dead long live i45.

Sonata replacement to be badged in Australia as i45 – and on sale within months

Hyundai logo19 Feb 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

HYUNDAI has confirmed ‘i45’ as the nameplate that will grace the replacement for its Sonata when the adventurous new model goes on sale here in the second quarter of this year.

The i45 name will be exclusive to Australia, where the outgoing NF Sonata attracted just 943 sales for a tiny 1.6 per cent share of the medium-car segment in 2009, after being selected by Hyundai Motor Company from a shortlist of locally proposed names.

Hyundai’s sixth-generation mid-size sedan continues with the Sonata moniker in its Korean home market, where the YF-series model was launched with stellar success in September, and the US, where it went on sale in recent weeks.

The i45 will cap off a busy first six months of 2010 for Hyundai in Australia, where the Korean brand replaced its top-selling Tucson compact SUV with the ix35 earlier this month and will add the Indian-built i20 hatchback to its top-selling Getz in the light-car segment in April.

The redesigned mid-sizer could be joined in Australia next year by the VF-series i40, a sleeker five-door sister model that will be directed at Europe and will be previewed at the Geneva motor show by the ‘i-flow’ concept.

As previously reported, the latest Sonata is sold in South Korea, which will supply Australia’s i45 on schedule despite the first 10 months of production already being sold out following the receipt of 100,000 orders, with a 121kW/198Nm 2.0-litre Theta II four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to Hyundai’s new six-speed automatic transmission.

1 center imageBut Australia’s version will be powered by the company’s new direct-injection 2.4-litre Theta II ‘GDI’ engine that motivates North America’s Sonata, which is produced at Montgomery, Alabama and delivers 150kW/245Nm – up from the current 2.4-litre Theta’ 127kW and 225Nm.

A replacement for the current Sonata CRDi is unlikely, with Hyundai’s new R-Series diesel engine (as seen in 2.0-litre guise in the ix35 and in 2.2-litre form in the facelifted Santa Fe) expected to be the sole domain of Europe’s i40, which will be built in the Czech Republic.

A plug-in hybrid version of the i45/Sonata, likely to offer a similar 1.6-litre petrol-electric powertrain to Hyundai’s Blue-Will concept car, is due to go on sale in the US in the final quarter of this year, but has not been confirmed for Australia, where iot would compete directly with Toyota’s new homegrown Camry Hybrid.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia says the i45 represents a modern approach to the traditional mid-size sedan segment by incorporating Hyundai's new ‘fluidic sculpture’ design and luxury features with the brand’s traditional value proposition.

“We are very excited to be launching the all-new i45 mid-sized sedan in Australia in the coming months,” said HMCA marketing director Oliver Mann.

“Already breaking records in South Korea and receiving awards in the US, i45 is going to make a considerable impact in the competitive Australian mid-sized segment.” According to Hyundai, the US Sonata delivers best-in-class fuel consumption and residual value, with the entry-level version retaining a 36-month residual value of 54 per cent of manufacturer’s list price from Automotive Lease Guide (ALG), a leading provider of resale value estimates in the US.

Hyundai says that puts the Sonata ahead of 2010 medium sedans from Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Chevrolet – as well as premium brands such as Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – and represents the lowest depreciation in the US mid-size vehicle segment.

Although Hyundai makes no mention of the Mazda6, with which the i45 will compete in Australia, it said ALG data showed the US Sonata depreciated $US640 ($A718) less over a three-year period than a comparably-equipped 2010 Honda Accord.

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