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Hyundai i30 SR 'needs more visual bling'

Warm up act: The current version of Hyundai's i30 SR hatch arrived in August last year, but has not sold as well as the car-maker had hoped.

Future variations of Hyundai’s i30 SR warm hatch likely to gain a sportier look

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Hyundai logo4 Jul 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HYUNDAI admits the slow-selling i30 SR warm hatch will not hit the sweet spot on the local sales charts until it receives more visual pizzazz.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Genesis first drive event in South Korea late last month, Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) chief operating officer John Elsworth said the type of buyers the warm hatch should appeal to desire more visual differentiation.

While the Mr Elsworth agreed that items like a deeper front air dam, side skirts, bigger wheels and a spoiler would help the i30 SR reach a wider audience, he revealed that they need to be part of an integrated factory-supplied program rather than aftermarket add-ons.

“The i30 SR needs an integrated body kit for it to really fly,” he said.

“We are looking at a variety of bodykits, but they tend to look too aftermarket. And we won’t compromise that if it doesn’t look right.” Hyundai may take the opportunity to develop an in-house bodykit for the i30 when the minor facelift appears within the next six months or so.

Along with a revised front end featuring a hexagonal grille as per the upcoming Sonata mid-sizer, the changes are thought to include a variety of powertrain upgrades, including the possibility of lower-displacement turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine choices.

The resulting performance uplift from a variation of the related Veloster’s 1.6-litre turbo would boost the i30 SR’s appeal considerably.

Released in August last year, the i30 SR gained a series of suspension modifications compared to the regular version as a result of an Australian local chassis tuning, as well as an engine upgrade.

At the time of launch, HMCA had hoped to shift around 250 units of the warmed-over hatchback per month.

Several other markets around the world have since adopted the 129kW/209Nm 2.0-litre direct-injection GDI powerplant engineered specifically for the variant at HMCA’s request.

Starting from $27,990, plus on-road costs for the SR manual, the sportiest Hyundai small hatch to date faces stiff competition from the popular Mazda3 SP25 and Ford Focus Sport (both from $25,890), as well as cheaper, smaller-displacement turbo models such as the Holden Cruze SRi (from $22,490) and Pulsar ST-S (from $25,490).

A naturally aspirated 107kW/175Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine powers the majority of i30s sold in Australia, though a 94kW/260Nm 1.6-litre CRDi turbo-diesel unit is also offered as an alternative.

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