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Sporty Hyundai SR halo models edge closer

Hot shots: The Hyundai Accent SR (left) and i30 SR (below) could on sale in Australia as early as August.

Australia looks set to become first market for new line of Hyundai SR hot hatches

17 Feb 2013

PERFORMANCE-ORIENTED SR versions of the Hyundai i30 and Accent hatchbacks are edging closer to a local launch, with the company’s Australian arm pushing the case strongly to get the two prospective halo cars out of development and into production.

Intriguingly, Australia is shaping up to be the first market in the world to receive each vehicle – provided Hyundai Motor Corporation gives each the green light – with the Aussie market acting as a test bed ahead of a wider global rollout.

While not confirmed, GoAuto understands a launch as early as the third quarter of 2013 could be on the cards, almost 12 months after their premiere at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last October.

Hyundai has made no secret of its ambitions to branch out into the performance-car market, which it sees as crucial to the continued improvement of its brand reputation.

While not outright high-performance vehicles, these warmed-up versions of its small hatchbacks would give the company a rival to the likes of the Mazda3 SP25.

Each car would be a development of the concepts shown at Sydney, with the same mechanicals but potentially some changes to specification and body additions.

As previously reported, Hyundai Motor Co Australia’s product planning division has played a substantial role in the creation of each model, selecting components from throughout the Korean auto giant and combining them into two unique prototype vehicles.

As HMCA product planning manager Scott Nargar told us today, this is largely down to Australia’s seemingly insatiable appetite for performance variants of mainstream cars.

For instance, both the SP25 and the Volkswagen Golf GTI make up a far greater proportion of sales in their respective ranges than in other global markets.

“If we don’t have a car in that segment, we’re basically losing customers,” he said. “They haven’t got a Hyundai to choose from so they’ll walk to one of our competitors, so we need to have the right sort of vehicle.” The i30 SR show car was powered by the i40’s 2.0-litre GDi petrol engine delivering 130kW and 213Nm – a considerable improvement on the regular hatch’s 110kW/178Nm 1.8-litre engine – and driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.

The Accent version, meanwhile, featured a tuned version of the regular 1.6-litre with 103kW (up from 91kW) and 167Nm (up from 156Nm), driven through a six-speed manual.

GoAuto understands both upgraded engines are ready to roll, the company having secured supply, with only smaller touches such as the daytime running lights and the rear diffuser (which, on the show cars, were made in Australia) still needing to be finalised.

The show cars also featured retuned steering and suspension and different alloy wheels and grille treatments. Both cars were fitted out with sporty red and black interiors, which in the Accent included automatic climate-control air-conditioning and a five-inch touchscreen.

Mr Nargar said HMC headquarters in South Korea had been sent all feedback received from the Sydney show, and that information had also been sent to Hyundai’s design centre in Germany and its factory in the Czech Republic.

“Typical Australians, we love pushing the boundaries of things and we don’t like taking no for an answer,” he said.

“We’re pretty much like a dog with a bone, and that’s what I’m trying to achieve with the Accent and i30, if we can get all the components we need, and at a reasonable price ... I’m trying to set a precedent globally.

“From an engineering point of view we punch above our weight, we don’t have a research and design centre in Australia but we’ve got a great team of engineers and guys who are really passionate, and we want to make sure we’ve got the power of persuasion to help us get what we want, when we want it.

“The best specification, the best running gear, our own local suspension tune ... we’re pushing the boundaries and really dictating where we’d like to see this brand in the future. I think a halo car like an SR is really going to help this brand in the future.”

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