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Hyundai Sonata to be i45

The decision to run with the alpha-numeric nomenclator is a victory for commercial commonsense and will allow Hyundai to leverage off the huge buyer goodwill already created by the award-winning i30 small car.

"There has been a great deal of discussion with Hyundai head office over how we would market the YF (Hyundai's internal designation of the new model) in Australia and while we don't see this as any sort of victory we are very pleased with the outcome," Hyundai Australia's director of marketing, Oliver Mann, says.

"I can't speak for other markets around the world but I would expect that the i45 name will at least flow to New Zealand."  With the i45 nameplate settled the Sonata replacement will join i20, i30, ix35, iMax and iLoad as the latest member of the new-generation Hyundai family.

"I see the i-cars as the definition of the new Hyundai models, particularly the i45 which shares the fluidic sculpture design language with the ix35," Mann says.  Hyundai hopes to have the i45 in showrooms by June, just weeks after the arrival of the i20 light car.

"It may well work out that the two cars arrive almost together," Mann says. "It is about production and availability. We are very confident of having the i20 here by May but the timing on the i45 is less certain although we would certainly hope to have it here by the middle of this year."

Launched in the US at the end of last year as the Sonata, the car has been enjoying rave reviews and creating huge demand.  The coupe-like sedan was first unveiled for the Korean market in September and then put on show in LA. It is an attractive four-door with high-end European looks that came out of Hyundai's California design studio.

In contrast to most of its competitors the i45 launched in the US and Korea as an all four-cylinder engine range with the most likely choice for Australia the new 2.4-litre Theta II direct-injection unit boasting 150kW, 245Nm and fuel economy of around seven litres per 100km.

Drive will be through a pair of new six-speed gearboxes. To date there is no word on the double-clutch automatic that Hyundai has been developing and highlighted in a concept at the Geneva motor show last year.

By the end of next year there is also expected to be available in the model line-up a two-litre direct-injection turbocharged diesel and a Hybrid Blue Drive -- a conventional parallel hybrid system but using the latest in lithium-ion battery technology from the company's association with LG.

Hyundai Australia is remaining tight-lipped on the possibility of a second stream of the Sonata replacements joining the i45, possibly early next year.  A parallel development program has been running for the European market with a sportswagon-style model which is expected to be badged an i40 when it launches there towards the end of this year.

That i40 badge for the different yet similar model could explain why the Australian YF has been given the i45 naming rather than the i40 which was originally expected.  "I really don't know anything about that," Mann says. "We are just happy at the moment to have the i45 confirmed."

UPDATE: Read our first drive review of the i45 here.

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