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Hyundai i30 N to boost overall brand image

The Tucson 30 Special Edition was a sell-out success for Hyundai, which is paving the way for a possible N-branded SUV model.

Hyundai's prestige brand prospects could be on the rise as it increases its focus on lifestyle, as well as welcoming a wider-range of new product, including the arrival of its high-performance N model line-up.

Significant strides have already been made in recent times by the South Korean manufacturer, which has been intent on increasing the attractiveness of its burgeoning range, and the imminent launch of the brand's driver-first N vehicles will help improve brand status even further.

Speaking at last week's international media launch for the third-generation i30 in South Korea, Hyundai Australia boss Scott Grant said plenty of work remained in trying to better the 50-year-old brand's image.

"That's our bigger and broader challenge beyond i30," he said. "The i30 needs to wrestle some of that responsibility on its own, but the broader brand needs to continue to evolve.

"Our products have been getting better and better with each model change across the board and our brand is lagging (in) that development. There are many people who, to this day, don't appreciate the brand or the quality of the product, in my view."

In particular, the i30 N will be critical for Hyundai as it looks to establish a high-performance sub-brand for the company, which will launch alongside the arrival of several new models – like the i30 – that are aiming to also push the carmaker further upstream.

I don't think in percentage terms the N series is going to be substantial but it will be hugely important from a brand and image point of view.

N-branded vehicles will be perched at the top-of-the-tree desirability-wise for the brand, which is not just chasing increased sales on account of its performance heroes, according to Mr Grant.

"I don't think in percentage terms the N series is going to be substantial but it will be hugely important from a brand and image point of view. I think it will also provide the opportunity to bring some new buyers to the brand that haven't considered it before," he said.

"It provides a level of excitement to our staff, to our dealers, to existing owners. It has many areas to contribute but I don't think pure volume is the purpose of that product."

Arriving globally later this year, Hyundai's i30 N performance hero will join the hot-hatch slug-fest packing up to a 202kW punch alongside a track-developed chassis, but even more potent yet-to-be-detailed models will arrive later.

Mr Grant said more details on the growing N sub-brand were some time away, but he would not rule out the possibility of a performance-orientated SUV.

"A sporty version of it is probably an opportunity for us... With N we'll have a better halo and perhaps more consistency across products that will state what that brand is all about," he said.

The viability of such would only be strengthened by the sell-out success of the limited Tucson 30 Special Edition and Santa Fe SR in Australia, which offered buyers a sportier edge.

Hyundai will also attempt to boost its brand image with the release of several new or upgraded models throughout the next 18 months, including its first entry into the ultra-competitive compact SUV segment.

Hyundai Australia would also like to join the increasingly popular one-tonne ute segment within the next two years.

"This year we've got a substantial change to Sonata coming about May, right behind i30. Later in the year we've got an all new baby SUV codenamed OS that we're excited about, and then, as we turn into next year, we've got new Veloster, and new Santa Fe. Somewhere in that mix we've got Ioniq and there are other products after that," Mr Grant said.

Aside from passenger vehicles, Hyundai Australia would also like to join the increasingly popular one-tonne ute segment within the next two years, according to Mr Grant, which would expand its current commercial offerings beyond the iMax and iLoad.

"It's been planned, it's being prepared and I've heard some rumours as of last night that maybe there's a move in that direction in the next couple of years. I do know that HMC (Hyundai Motor Company) is taking it very seriously. A model code has been allocated to it and work is underway."

Would you consider the purchase of a Hyundai in the current day more so than previously? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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