Europe’s Hyundai i20 is in sight and aims to top the class.
Good looks are no guarantee of a start with Hyundai in Australia. Even though its new i20 sets a small-car benchmark for the brand and has a touch of Audi A3 to its shape, it’s still not confirmed as a local contender.
Hyundai says it’s all about the price as it has rejected a low-cost i20 from India and is working on the numbers for a European market model built in a factory in Turkey.
The i20 starts at $15,590 and Hyundai Australia sold 7736 in the first half of this year, a 23.1 per cent improvement over 2013. It is the third most popular model, after its i30 and ix35.
Hyundai won’t confirm if it will bring in the next-generation i20, even though it’s almost certain — eventually — to take over from the current car.
“There is nothing to say beyond ‘It’s under study’. But it looks good, it’s probably going to be a class-leading car, and we’re interested,” says Hyundai Australia’s Bill Thomas.
“We need to look at the pricing, out of Europe. (We won’t take) the Indian one, which looks much more specialised for the Indian market.”
Hyundai is making a big deal in Europe about the new i20, which it claims will become a new class benchmark.
It must contend with a wide range of impressive rivals, ranging from the Volkswagen Up — which failed in Australia and was withdrawn — to the Ford Fiesta and Fiat 500.
It was designed at the Hyundai studio in Germany and the clean new body design has an extra 45 millimetres in the wheelbase, promising a bigger cabin. New technology includes a standard reversing camera and LED headlights.
The i20 goes public at the Paris motor show in a few weeks but Thomas is not predicting any early news for Australia.
“We’re taking the ix35 Special Edition from our factory in the Czech Republic, so it is possible to bring cars from Europe, but we ‘re still looking at the price details.
“We’d only take the car out of Turkey. So we have to look at the shipping costs and the impact of the exchange rate,” he says.