Next Hyundai i20 in doubt for Oz

HYUNDAI has released images of the all-new i20 ahead of its Paris motor show debut in early October, but the Korean company’s Polo rival may be too expensive for Australia.

The current i20 launched here in 2010 is brought in from low-cost India, but the new version will be manufactured in Turkey, adding considerably to the cost of landing the vehicle here.

A complete visual breakaway from the existing model, the IB-series hatchback follows its predecessor in being developed at Hyundai’s German design and engineering centre in Russelsheim near Frankfurt.

As a result, improvements in space, technology, quality and driveability are promised, to match the more contemporary styling featuring the brand’s signature hexagonal grille treatment, a ‘floating’ roofline C-pillar effect and boomerang-shaped tail-lights.

Hyundai Australia is working out how it can import the sleek supermini at a competitive price.

“We’re studying it,” Hyundai Australia PR chief Bill Thomas told Wheels. “It’s too early to comment.”

The company may instead look at a cheaper version of the current Accent fitted with a 74kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine that could fill the impending void in the $15,000 end of the light-car market when the current i20 Active 1.4 is discontinued next year.

Sourced from South Korea, like its highly successful Getz predecessor was in the 2000s, the current Accent 1.6 Active kicks off from $16,990, putting it in the ‘premium’ end of the Australian light-car class against the Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Suzuki Swift, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo.

If Hyundai Australia elects to switch the Accent and i20 in terms of pricing and positioning, it will mirror the impending situation in the medium segment, where the 2015 Sonata will take on the Toyota Camry while the smaller Euro-engineered i40 sedan and wagon will continue as the company’s premium rival to the Mazda 6 and Ford Mondeo.

Helping the new i20’s aspirations as an upmarket supermini is what Hyundai describes as an “all-new platform” that is 45mm longer, resulting in claimed best-in-class legroom and cargo capacity.

Hyundai says the IB-series will offer a panoramic sunroof, rear-view camera and LED lighting.

“The key aims of the new model are to open Hyundai to an even wider audience; further develop perceptions of the brand; and confirm Hyundai’s position as a truly European automaker,” the company said in a press statement.

Click here to read the full range review of the Hyundai i20

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