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Hyundai ponders i40 Euro contender

Go with the flow: The i-flow concept at the Geneva show previewed the i40.

Hyundai considers suave i40 mid-sized sedan and wagon for Australia

Hyundai logo18 Oct 2010

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HYUNDAI is contemplating the yet-to-be-unveiled i40 from Europe for Australia during 2011.

In a move that would pitch the mid-sized five-seater family car as a stylish and sporty alternative to the Honda Accord Euro, Suzuki Kizashi, Mazda6, Ford Mondeo and Subaru Liberty, the i40 would be priced a little above the slightly larger i45 with which it shares a platform and drivetrain components.

This would mirror Honda’s successful two-pronged medium/large segment strategy with the four-cylinder Accord Euro (out of Japan) and four-cylinder and V6-engined Accord series (made in Thailand).

1 center imageThe i40 is expected to have tauter and more elegant lines than the aggressively modern i45.

Currently, the base i45 kicks off at $29,590 for the MY11 Active ($100 up from the MY10 version, but now featuring changes to the suspension and specification), while the Accord VTi automatic starts from $32,490 – $3300 less than the equivalent Accord Euro automatic.

One point of difference for the i40 could be the wagon variant, which is also under serious consideration for Australia, to give Hyundai an effective weapon against the Liberty, Mazda6 and Mondeo wagons.

Hyundai Australia CEO Edward Lee told GoAuto on the eve of the Australian International Motor Show last week that the i40 is in the running in both body shapes.

“This car is under study,” he said. “We are considering whether we can sell both the i40 and i45 in Australia. We still have to figure out how to differentiate the i45 from the i40, but it still very early days.

“I think we may have a market opportunity with the i40 wagon.”

Mr Lee said the i40 was created as a concept in Germany but finished in South Korea, where it will be built and released in Europe during 2011. It was first revealed as the ‘i-flow’ sedan concept at the Geneva motor show earlier this year.

Buoying HMCA’s hopes for the i40 is the i45’s fast-improving market share compared to its Sonata predecessor in Australia.

A massive success in North America, and with waiting lists stretching to months elsewhere, i45 production has not kept pace with demand. Nevertheless, the constrained 969 sales in the five months since it was launched in May is still more than four times the number of Sonatas sold in nine months to September 2009.

“In the medium class, only one – the Camry – is selling more than 2000 units a month. All the others are about 500 per month, and we are catching up very quickly with the i45,” said Mr Lee.

“We aim to be a top three player in the medium class in Australia.”

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