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Hyundai still unsure about i20, N models

N for no: Hyundai unveiled its N performance tuning sub-brand in late 2013, but it is unlikely to filter down to the Australian market anytime soon.

N-bagded hot hatches unlikely as Hyundai continues to mull new-gen i20

Hyundai logo10 Feb 2015

By NEIL DOWLING

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is still undecided about whether to import the new-generation i20 light hatch, and has all but ruled out the so-called 'N' performance range for this market.

The N sub-brand was confirmed back in December 2013 by the South Korean car-maker that said it would use the new go-fast division to collaborate on motorsport activities as well as enhancing existing models in its line-up.

Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the new Sonata in Tasmania this week, HMCA senior product planning manager Andrew Tuitahi said there was little hope for N-badged models in Australia.

“The N range would come out of Europe but nothing is planned. I can’t see it being made available for us,” he said.

“There is a performance version of the i30 which has a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine but that’s also not confirmed for Australia. It’s an upgrade on the standard i30 and is certainly not an N model.”

Hyundai offers a warmed-over version of the i30 in Australia, dubbed the SR, alongside a spicier version of the Accent, and despite some speculation that hotter turbo-powered versions of these models could eventually arrive here, it is now unlikely.

The new i20 is also causing HMCA some heartache, with Mr Tuitahi telling GoAuto that Australia would continue to receive the current-generation i20 for the remainder of this year.

“We’re unsure at this moment about the new i20,” he said.

“It will come out of our Turkey factory and we haven’t yet made a business case for the effect of the exchange rate and freight on a landed price. It’s something we’re looking at but no decision as yet.”

While the small-car fleet is being examined in Australia, Hyundai said its flagship Genesis luxury sedan was “still finding its potential’’.

HMCA chief executive officer Charlie Kim said the car-maker sold 56 units of the Genesis in January and he estimated 50 cars a month, adding that growing potential existed with fleets and hire car operators.

That puts potential annual sales at 600 cars, well short of the predicted 1000 annual sales.

Mr Kim said the potential for the model was still yet to be reached and said existing sales appeared to be split 50:50 with private and the fleet/hire car operators.

The same percentage split is being predicted for Sonata, with 50 per cent now going to fleet and user-chooser owners.

“We want sales to grow. We’re not specific on numbers but we want to see an increase in volume,’’ Mr Kim said.

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