The next-generation i30 is an important car for Hyundai NZ – not least in its N Sport format.
WITH consumer interest in sports utilities already at an all-time high and showing no sign of abating, the next-generation i30 hatch might well be relegated to a support role when it arrives next year.
However, even though Hyundai New Zealand recognizes that its current best-sellers, the Tucson and Santa Fe, might still be calling the sales shots when the new hatchback lands around mid-year or slightly later, they say the third-generation range of their Corolla-challenger will maintain a high level of importance, not least because the next generation delivers something new – a hot hatch version.
Or could that be versions? There’s now talk that the impending 130N, Hyundai’s first hot hatch, might come in two formats – initially as a front-drive Golf GTi rival then, later, as a four-wheel-drive competitor for the Ford Focus RS.
Interest in the next-gen i30 has been raised now that Hyundai head office has provided the first glimpse of the next hatchback. A full media reveal comes ahead of next month’s Paris motor show, the first public showing.
Hyundai New Zealand boss Andy Sinclair, commenting on the car from South Korea, says his office has yet to start sorting pricing and specification.
The new line will span in five and three-door hatchback and station wagon formats. It is believed production of right-hand-drive models for export countries other than the United Kingdom begins in March. While it is possible that we might see it around June – the cited launch month for Australia – that’s not yet concrete, Sinclair has indicated.
He described the potential for a mid-year introduction as being “conservative.”
What’ll it do for the NZ-owned distributor? The present model is not one a big hitter here.
The only Hyundai cars in the passenger top 15 are the sports utilities – the medium-sized Tucson, which stands as the brand’s top seller with 1317 units year to date, followed by the larger Santa Fe, on 1279.
In all, Hyundai stands fifth on the passenger count and stands sixth overall in the new vehicle sales race, with 4842 units registered to the end of July. It is being outsold by Mitsubishi, Mazda, Holden, Ford and Toyota.
Analysis of sales data suggests that the steady lift in its SUV sales has been tempered by a drop in interest in its passenger models, with the i30 being particularly affected.
Sinclair says that doesn’t mean Hyundai NZ is giving any thought to abdicating its wholly-road-tuned passenger lines.
“The i30 has always been a New Zealand favourite, with a very loyal private and fleet customer base and so we have no intentions of dropping the i30 from our product line up,” he said.
“While passenger vehicles in general are declining it still equates to over 33 percent of total vehicles sales, which is still a significant proportion and so shouldn’t be written off.
“New Zealanders like choice, and they like options – dropping such a prominent vehicle and not having an offering in a key segment just wouldn’t make sense.”
Sinclair’s enthusiasm for the new ‘N’ variant has been obvious for some time and he hasn’t lost any of that passion.
Hyundai has made clear the performance flagship, which is a front-drive with a new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol producing at least 190kW, will go into production next year, but after the mainstream models have bedded in. Does that mean the 130N might arrive locally until 2018? Sinclair professes he doesn’t yet know.
“We’re excited about the opportunity, but do not have any updates on N-Sport i30 … or any other variant at this stage.”
Notwithstanding the above, N Division boss Albert Biermann – who ran BMW M-car division before being wooed by Seoul – has just given an interview in which he stated that a fiery front-drive 130N will be a start, rather than an end, point for his division, not least because the car’s engine has been designed to allow for higher-output derivatives, potentially even one that might come close to the 257kW Focus RS. He doesn’t discount that all-wheel-drive might also be offered if a monster engine was developed, telling Britain’s Autocar magazine: “If it (performance) goes up a lot, then obviously you need to have all-wheel-drive.”
Meantime, comment from head office associated with the release of the i30 images seen today says the new car was designed, developed and tested in Europe, and will continue to be built at the Czech Republic factory where the current model is sourced from.
Though the model appears to maintain a general styling association with what we have now, it has a new front-end design with a more curved grille than that on Hyundai's current models. Hyundai Motor chief design officer Peter Schreyer calls the feature a “cascading grille.”
The German said in a statement that the i30 showcases an evolution of Hyundai's design language with natural flowing lines, refined surfaces and a sculpted body.
“It’s a car for everybody – for the design of the new-generation Hyundai i30, we didn’t just look at one customer, we focused on a wide range of different people,” he said.
“The design is an evolution of Hyundai Motor’s design language with natural flowing lines, refined surfaces and a sculpted body to create a timeless appearance. With the new-generation i30, we are introducing our further developed grille: the Cascading grille.”
These darkened images also show something of a new headlight design that is in keeping with recent Hyundai models such as the Tucson and Elantra. The tail-lights are an evolution of the second-gen hatch but also take cues from the Tucson and the European-market i20 hatch that is not sold here but is well known to Kiwi motorsport fans nonetheless, being the basis of the works rally car raced by Haydon Paddon and John Kennard.
It is expected that the new i30 will have roughly the same dimensions as the outgoing model.
Underpinning the i30 will be a version of the new Elantra platform, although Hyundai and its sister company Kia typically use elements from various platforms rather than sharing the exact version as is the case with other car-makers, including Volkswagen.
The car is expected to carry over the majority of the Hyundai engine range but an entry model might adopt a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine that debuted in the i20.
Hyundai said the i30 will have an "efficient and dynamic powertrain line-up" without going into details. The model will have "state-of-the-art safety and connectivity," the brand said.
The car will be unveiled to the international press on September 8 (NZT) ahead of its debut on the Paris show on September 29.