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Hyundai Australia ponders SR performance brand

Sporting future: The Veloster Turbo may be followed by models such as the i30 hatch wearing the SR badge.

Suite of hot SR models to add some sizzle to Hyundai Australia product portfolio

7 Aug 2012

HYUNDAI Motor Co Australia (HMCA) is poised to announce the expansion of its performance car portfolio beyond the newly launched Veloster SR Turbo at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney this October.

The company is understood to be evaluating the business case for a range of Australian-tuned SR-badged sports variants of existing model lines that could be on the cards for market launch as early as next year.

HMCA has not confirmed exactly which model lines are a chance to receive the SR treatment, but GoAuto understands the i30 hatch – the second generation of which was released Down Under in May – is likely to be first cab off the rank beyond the Veloster, giving the company a potential rival for the likes of the Mazda3 SP25.

Things are set to become clearer in Sydney in October, where the company is believed to be planning to display several concept vehicles pointing the way forward for the SR name.

GoAuto understands the concepts will be local initiatives developed by HMCA, which intends to use these vehicles as potential sounding boards to gauge public reaction.

Hyundai now conducts significant chassis and suspension tuning Down Under, with recent additions to the range like the Veloster Turbo, i30 and i40 all featuring Australian-specific settings.

 center imageFrom top: Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo i30 hatch i40 sedan.

HMCA director of marketing Oliver Mann told GoAuto the company was still in the evaluation stage and had nothing official to confirm regarding SR development, but that if the numbers added up it would be keen to pursue an expansion of its sports-oriented range.

“For us it’s one step at a time, and Veloster is a first but very significant step. We are looking through the SR badging program at extending this further through our range,” he said.

“If we can engineer products that add performance and add driving enjoyment, and yet make sense as a business case, then clearly it is something that offers us both volume and brand image opportunities.

“We’ve had SR on i30 before, and that sub-branding is being continued, and it’s something we’re looking at and keen to explore.

“Certainly the i30 is one of the cars we would look at. The starting point is vehicles that can add to our brand image by generating driver enjoyment and perhaps adding a lustre to our brand, and there are incremental volume opportunities as well.

“We’re not going to announce anything before Sydney we’re not in a position. If we’ve got something to announce, then we’ll do it in Sydney.

“I’m not going to guarantee that we’ve got big plans, but we have got some evaluations on the go which will certainly be completed by then.” The aforementioned i30 SR hatch – based on the previous-generation model – was not a full-fat sports model, but rather a stock variant with cosmetic updates.

Mr Mann said said any i30 hot hatch would need to offer substantially more than this if it were to wear the SR badge, including “bespoke suspension tuning, or engine enhancements”.

“Our aim this time around for any performance program would be for there to be differentiation between the sport version and the standard version,” he said.

“If we think there is a return in terms of volume and profitability then we will do it.” HMCA senior product planning manager Scott Williams said the company was still looking at ways to make a hot i30 become reality, but echoed Mr Mann in saying any road-going model would back up its sporty looks with suitable performance.

“It won’t be just a bodykit we will have the sausage with the sizzle,” he said.

“You will need a better powerplant to start with, better wheels and tyres, some sort of subtle bodywork, interior treatments – you have got to get those areas nailed down and we are still working our way through it.” It is unclear which engine this could be, but the 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre twin-scroll, direct-injection turbocharged engine developed for the SR Veloster Turbo would seem a likely candidate, notwithstanding any potential production constraints.

While the company has not given any indication as to which other models might be primed for the SR treatment, Mr Mann said it was unlikely to expand beyond the passenger car range into SUV territory, ruling out hot versions of the ix35 and Santa Fe for now.

Already locked in for a local launch – in either late 2013 or early 2014 – is the next-generation Genesis sports coupe, with Mr Mann confirming it would appear as a Hyundai-badged product and not sold under a Genesis sub-brand as had been reported.

“I can confirm it will be a Hyundai and not a Genesis sub-brand. All things being equal logically it will be called a Hyundai Genesis Coupe,” he said.

“It’s something that has been considered (the sub-brand), but fundamentally we believe it is a sounder business model to sell Genesis products – coupe or sedan – through the Hyundai dealer network.” The Genesis will likely sit at the top of the performance tree in the Hyundai range when it is launched, with the company hosing down overseas speculation that an even hotter version of the Veloster Turbo could be in the making.

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