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Hyundai maps out growth plans

New year: Korean car-maker Hyundai is planning to introduce at least three new models in 2014, and the line-up could include a sporty sub-compact SUV similar to the Curb concept it unveiled in 2011.

New i45, next-gen i20, ix25 crossover and Genesis to keep Hyundai busy in 2014

Hyundai logo14 Jan 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in DETROIT

HYUNDAI is reinvigorating its model line-up this year as it seeks to break through the 100,000 unit sales barrier in Australia by the end of 2014.

First cab-off-the-rank will likely be a full-sized medium-class sedan replacement for the discontinued YF-Series i45.

Set to make its world premiere as the LF Sonata at the New York International Auto Show in April, it is due to reach Australia’s shores by the third quarter of 2014, and will brandish a more subdued version of the Fluidic Sculpture styling language that helped make the previous model stand apart.

To properly rival the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Holden Malibu and Kia Optima, the next Sonata/i45 will feature better performance courtesy of a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine option (on top of the standard 2.4-litre unit), as well as more interior space thanks to a bigger body and wheelbase stretch.

With a course of local road tuning expected for it – above the extensive engineering work already undertaken to improve the LF’s steering, ride and handling characteristics – Hyundai is banking on the newcomer to appeal to a wider buyer base than its slow-selling predecessors.

Backing that up will be base-model pricing that might match the Malibu CD’s leading $28,490 plus on-road costsWhether the LF replaces the closely related but smaller and more Euro-focussed i40 sedan and Tourer is not yet known, although the latter might enjoy a stay of execution since it will remain unique in Hyundai’s medium-car arsenal as a result of wagon and diesel availability.

The previous YF Sonata/i45 was only offered in Australia for two years from 2010.

Add to this confirmation of the DH Genesis sedan’s local debut in the third quarter, and Hyundai will have a much stronger presence in the medium and large sedan segments by the end of the year.

From the D/E segments down to the B segment, the ageing i20 hatchback’s successor will at last surface, in time for the Paris Motor Show in late September.

That means the first-quarter 2015 Australian release is probably the most likely scenario, for a larger and far more contemporary styled light car that appears to be in the latest Renault Clio mould in terms of looks and size.

Besides offering much improved interior space, refinement and – presumably – dynamics, the new IB-series i20 might be sourced out of Turkey rather than India for Australia. The difference is the former serves the European market with more sophisticated features.

The move to Turkish sourcing and the inevitable price rise that would follow might make space for the recently released and highly lauded second-gen i10 sub-B light car to take on the Suzuki Alto, Volkswagen Up, Mitsubishi Mirage and Holden Barina Spark at the bottom end of the new-car market – though Hyundai says it is still only under study at this point of time.

More intriguingly, the next-gen i20 is also poised to spawn a sub-compact SUV to take on the Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Suzuki S-Cross and Peugeot 2008.

Previewed by the HCD-12 Curb concept car two years ago, expect to see an ix25 badge when the production version debuts in the vey near future – possibly sooner than the next i20.

Rumours are rife that an April unveiling at the Beijing motor show is on the cards, meaning that it could even see the light of day in Australia by the end of this year.

With Hyundai sales growing six per cent in 2013, hitting a record 97,006 units in the process, the new model wave should see the South Korean brand burst into the six-figure volume club by the end of this year.

Hyundai's busy 12-month rollout
YF Sonata/i45Q3 2014
DH GenesisQ3 2014
ix25Q4 2014
IB i120Q1 2015

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