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Hyundai Australia ponders i30 hot hatch

Hatching a dream: The newly-launched i30 hatch could soon be offered in hot hatch form Down Under, if Hyundai Australia has its way.

Heated-up i30 hatch on the wish list for Hyundai Australia to tackle Mazda3 SP25

31 May 2012

HYUNDAI Australia has confirmed its interest in a potential hotted-up version of the new i30 hatch as a rival for the Mazda3 SP25.

Such a car has yet to be signed off by the Korean head office, but Hyundai Australia senior manager of product planning Scott Williams told media at this week’s i30 launch that the company was conscious of the benefits such a variant could bring to the range in this country.

“It’s a very successful thing to have a sporty range – you just have to see what Mazda has done over the years and we’re looking very carefully at that,” he said.

“It does have a halo effect on the brand.”

Hot hatches make up a disproportionate level of overall small-car sales in Australia. For instance, around 25 per cent of all Volkswagen Golfs sold here are GTIs, whereas this figure is closer to five per cent globally.

The obvious engine choice for an i30 hot hatch would appear to be the 155kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged unit from the forthcoming Veloster Turbo variant, although Mr Williams also alluded to the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre from the larger i40 Tourer as a possibility.

“If we could get a 2.0-litre GDI engine with around 130kW or something in that area, that would be a job nearly well done.”

1 center imageFrom top: Hyundai Veloster Turbo i40 Tourer.

In the i40 Tourer, the direct-injected petrol engine produces 130kW at 6500rpm and 213Nm at 4700rpm, matched to either a six-speed manual or six-speed sequential automatic.

Hyundai Australia may be keener on this powertrain for fear of undermining the Veloster Turbo dedicated sportscar, which is set for release in Australia by September priced around $35,000.

As we reported on our first drive of the new i30 range (see separate story), the 1.8-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine revs hard but lacks mid-range torque.

According to respected British publication Autocar, Hyundai’s sister company Kia is set to introduce a hot Euro-market version of its C’eed hatch, which is closely related to the i30.

Kia is also reportedly working on turbo versions of the Rio light car and the next-generation Koup, which is likely to share the Veloster’s turbo engine.

The success of the Veloster in Australia since its launch earlier this year may also have encouraged Hyundai Australia to push for a hotter i30, with the quirky coupe grabbing a 24 per cent share of its segment YTD, despite only going in sale in February.

Hyundai Australia has around 1000 back orders for the Veloster, creating a waiting list of several months for some buyers.

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