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Going green: Hyundai's American Sonata Hybrid could be one of several i45 variants destined for Australia.

Hybrid sedan, turbo coupe and diesel hatch versions of new Hyundai i45 on the agenda

25 May 2010

HYUNDAI’S new four-cylinder i45 medium sedan will not be a one-trick pony, with hybrid, turbocharged, coupe, hatchback, wagon and diesel derivatives all likely to eventually come on to the Korean car-maker’s agenda for Australia.

Officially, the i45-based 2011 Sonata Hybrid is aimed only at the US, but is being evaluated for release in Australia, where it would be the first direct rival for Toyota’s locally built petrol-electric model, the Camry Hybrid.

As we’ve reported, the hybrid i45 follows the superseded Elantra LPI Hybrid as Hyundai’s second hybrid model globally, combining an Atkinson-cycle port-injection version of the i45’s direct petrol-injection 2.4-litre engine with a 30kW electric motor to deliver a total power output of 156kW and best-in-class highway fuel economy of 6.0L/100km – the same as the Camry Hybrid’s average figure.

The uniquely styled 2011 Sonata Hybrid – America’s first hybrid Hyundai – employs an upgraded 270-volt version of the LPG-fuelled Elantra LPI Hybrid’s rechargeable lithium polymer battery to power its full two-mode parallel hybrid drive system, known as Hyundai Blue Drive (HBD).

It was first shown at the New York motor show in April, alongside the US-developed turbocharged 2011 Sonata 2.0T. Both models will soon be built in left-hand drive guise at Hyundai’s US plant in Alabama, before going on sale across North America in the final quarter of this year.

The Sonata 2.0T is the first Hyundai to combine the company’s new Theta II gasoline direct-injection (GDI) four-cylinder aluminium petrol engine – in this case a 2.0-litre version, rather than the 2.4-litre that will power Australia’s i45 and is on sale in US Sonata now – with a (twin-scroll) turbocharger.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia will not comment on the local potential of a turbocharged i45, which would deliver around the same 206kW power peak and 6.9L/100km highway fuel consumption as the Sonata 2.0T – as well as sister company Kia’s all-new Magentis (which should wear an Optima badge when it arrives here in late 2010).

1 center image Left: Hyundai i45 sedan. Below: i-flow concept.

However, although the Sonata turbo sedan is likely to remain a US-only model (in lieu of a V6-powered i45/Sonata), confirmation that Hyundai is indeed working on a coupe version of its new mid-size sedan raises the prospect of a turbocharged i45 coupe for Australia.

Spy images of a two-door version of the already sleek new i45/Sonata sedan have already surfaced on the internet and we understand the coupe will be the next body style to emerge on the mid-size i45’s new front-wheel drive platform – positioned between next year’s entry-level Accent-sized Veloster-based coupe and the top-shelf rear-drive Genesis.

Soon after that next year, however, Hyundai is expected to reveal five-door hatchback – and possibly wagon – versions of the i45 for the European market, powered for the first time by Hyundai’s new 2.0 or 2.2-litre R-series turbo-diesel engines – returning the diesel power the Sonata has offered since June 2008.

Likely to emerge with vastly different styling to the four-door YF-series i45/Sonata, the five-door VF-series model for Europe was previewed by the recent ‘i-flow’ concept and will be known in Australia as the i40.

The i40’s exterior was styled by Hyundai’s Californian studio was responsible for the skin of the i45, which has a Korean-designed interior.

On sale now, the i45 is the subject of a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign to herald the all-new medium sedan from the world’s fastest growing car-maker, which hopes to head further upmarket on the back of larger, more expensive models such as the i40 hatch and i45 sedan, as well as coupe and perhaps even convertible mid-sizers.

The i45’s expensive television commercial employs a computer-controlled waterfall to ‘rain’ different shapes of water on to the i45 – which is expected to receive a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating – and proclaims the slogan ‘Driven by obsession’.

HMCA will also leverage HMC’s sponsorship of the of the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer championship, which takes place next month in South Africa.

Hyundai will supply some 609 passenger cars and vans and 32 specially built ‘Hyundai Miss Universe Express Noble’ luxury coaches for what will be the world’s biggest sporting event.

Hyundai has been the official automotive supplier to all FIFA-sanctioned events globally for 11 years and will remain so until at least the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

“We are delighted to partner with FIFA as official automotive supplier during this historic football tournament,” said HMCA marketing director Oliver Mann.

“As the world’s largest sporting event, this is an exceptional opportunity for Hyundai Motor Company to showcase our extensive range of passenger vehicles, and to raise awareness of our brand to a global audience.”

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