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Future models - Hyundai - Sonata

Slick new Hyundais on the horizon

Middleweight: all-new NF Sonata was launched at last year's Geneva show.

A complete range refresh is arriving as Hyundai chooses quality over quantity

9 May 2005

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in SEOUL

HYUNDAI will launch a host of new models over the next three years.

First up next month is the NF, the fourth all-new Sonata since the model’s 1989 debut.

The Mazda6 rival sports new 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.3-litre V6 powerplants (dubbed Theta and Lambda respectively), as well as fresh styling, revised dynamics and a completely redesigned interior.

All models will include anti-lock brakes, traction control and a multitude of airbags.

In October the current TB Getz goes under the scalpel as it prepares to battle the all-new Toyota Echo as well as a facelifted Mazda2, Ford Fiesta and Holden’s sub-$15,000 Daewoo Kalos/Aveo-based baby due soon after.

GoAuto sprung an undisguised prototype on Hyundai’s Namyang test circuit in South Korea after its car-bra ‘malfunctioned’ during a high-test run.

The denuded newie sported larger headlights, a deeper grille and bumper, and a redesigned tail-gate that’s also longer to address the current Getz’s tiny hatch load area.

Significantly, improved handling and suppler ride attributes are expected from suspension revisions, while the higher-end GL models should gain 1.6-litre power in lieu of the current 1.5 unit.

It is believed this motor is yet another all-new Hyundai powerplant, the Alpha series-usurping Gamma range of smaller four-cylinder engines.

Despite HMCA’s flirtation with a 1.5 three-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, only petrol units will prevail locally, although European-market Getz’s will gain an all-new 1.8-litre CRDi four-pot turbo-diesel.

A significant cabin refresh is also on the cards, to match the expected interior space increase.

Still on light cars, March next year will see the debut of the long-awaited MC Accent – the fifth-generation of a series that started with the 1986 X1 Excel.

While the conservative MC four-door sedan has already been revealed at last month’s New York motor show, it appears HMCA is waiting for the more-Euro inspired three and five-door hatchback models to materialise before all three variants arrive.

The recent HED-1 Geneva Motor Show concept car gives some clues as to what the MC hatchbacks might look like.

Australians will get a taste of the Accent’s all-new MC platform when the next-generation Kia Rio arrives in the third quarter of this year.

Hyundai’s Executive Senior Vice President Hyun Soon Lee told GoAuto that, unusually, Kia acquired the platform first because its current (BC) Rio had rapidly fallen behind the competition (it is essentially built on the 1994-vintage X3 Excel chassis), so urgent action was necessary.

By June ’06 the second-generation Santa Fe should be here.

Codenamed CM, it’s all-change as a significantly larger and wider body boosts the Santa Fe to Ford Territory dimensions. Seven seats will be available, further distancing it from the smaller Tucson SUV.

Aiding the next Santa Fe’s inevitable weight increase will be the availability of a 3.8-litre V6 version of the latest Lambda powerplant.

Although it will be marketed elsewhere, the Sonata’s smaller 3.3 V6 version, as well as an anticipated 2.4-litre Theta four-cylinder unit, will probably be vetoed for Australia.

Turbo-diesel fans are also in for a treat if HMCA hauls out the still-secret 3.8-litre CRDi V6 in lieu of the current 2.9 CRDi unit that works so well in the Terracan.

A slightly reworked version of the CM’s very promising 3.8-litre Lambda V6 will be one of the talking points of the next-generation Grandeur due around June ’06.

Tagged Azera in America (a name with a slight chance of making it locally although HMCA foresees a fight with Toyota and its Camry Azura model), the front-wheel drive TG Grandeur is based on the NF Sonata.

Still, it has been significant reworked underneath as well as rebodied, with improved dynamics, a far more tasteful cabin, higher quality and more restrained styling.

Such moves should really lift this car’s chances in the competitive prestige sedan segment populated by rivals as diverse as the Honda Accord V6, Ford Fairmont and Peugeot 407. The last Grandeur – the XG – was a dynamic Neanderthal.

A couple of notches down, but more important for HMCA volume, will be the fourth iteration of the Elantra small car.

The Toyota Corolla rival gets serious with more European looks (a prototype was spotted wearing swoopy lift-back styling) featuring far less heavy-handed grille and tail-light treatments.

More sophisticated engines (a 2.0-litre from the Sonata 2.4’s Theta family of motors is mooted) and vastly improved suspension are also likely.

All are necessary if Hyundai is serious about challenging the Holden Astra, Mazda3 and Ford Focus with the next Elantra.

1 center image Meanwhile the Portico MPV concept (pictured at left) from the recent Chicago motor show is expected to replace the Trajet when it morphs into the productionised people mover some time later next year.

It’s expected to have seven instead of the Portico’s six-seater configuration. A conventional (rather than Hybrid) Lambda 3.3 and 3.8-litre V6 choice is likely.

Late 2007/early 2008 is about the soonest we’ll see Hyundai’s most exciting model to date.

The next-generation Tiburon will abandon front-wheel drive for a rear-wheel drive configuration as the South Koreans get serious about injecting real passion into its products.

Look to the 2004 Detroit motor show HCD-8 Concept Car for ideas about stance, proportion and styling.

HMC’s Mr Soon Lee himself confirmed rear-drive is on for the Tiburon replacement.

What's coming from Hyundai:

NF Sonata sedan - June 2005
TB Series II Getz hatch - October 2005
MC Accent hatch - March 2006
CM2 Santa Fe SUV - June 2006
TG Grandeur sedan - July 2006
Mk4 Elantra sedan - second half 2006
Trajet II MPV - late 2006
Mk3 Tiburon coupe - late 2006
Terracan II SUV - 2007/8

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