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Hyundai to take on BMW and Benz with Genesis G70 concept

We're about to find out if people will pay BMW and Mercedes money for a Hyundai sedan.

This could go down in automotive history as the boldest move ever.

Budget brand Hyundai is poised to launch a new challenger to the luxury market.

The South Korean car giant that built its reputation on $13,990 drive-away deals now wants to compete with BMW and Mercedes with a sleek sedan.

The Genesis G70 concept car, unveiled at the New York motor show overnight, is a pointer to a new prestige model set to arrive in Hyundai showrooms next year priced about $60,000.

It's not the first time Hyundai has tried to challenge the German brands.

Three years ago Hyundai released a Genesis limousine which cost up to $90,000 -- but it ended up taking only a small slice of the airport hire car market from the Holden Caprice thanks to discounts of up to $20,000, rather than appealing to rich buyers.

The move to a smaller model mirrors Toyota's luxury brand Lexus two decades ago, which started with a limousine before adding a medium-sized sedan.

Hyundai is heading upmarket because sales of mainstream medium-sized sedans have been in freefall, but luxury models are enjoying a surge.

Deliveries of the Toyota Camry -- Australia's top-selling medium-size car for more than two decades -- are down by a staggering 33 per cent so far this year.

Hyundai aims to follow the successful formula of the Europeans

By contrast, sales of the new Audi A4 are up by 36 per cent in the first two months of 2016, BMW 3 Series deliveries are up by 50 per cent, while the Mercedes-Benz C Class is the second-best seller across the entire medium-car class behind the Toyota Camry.

It remains to be seen whether Australian buyers will covet the Hyundai Genesis badge in the same way as a German logo.

But Hyundai aims to follow the successful formula of the Europeans, with a rear-wheel-drive design to give its small luxury sedan a sporty flavour.

Reports claim the flagship Genesis G70 will also be available with a twin turbo 3.3-litre V6

Engines are yet to be confirmed but expect a choice of petrol and diesel power to appeal to US and European tastes.

While the concept car had hybrid power, overseas reports claim the flagship Genesis G70 will also be available with a twin turbo 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine to compete with the $100,000 versions of the German sedans.

The medium-size car segment is becoming overcrowded, with more companies trying to enter the luxury market.

British Jaguar has recently joined Japan's Lexus in trying to take sales away from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Nissan's luxury marque Infiniti shows how hard it is to win sales from the German trio.

So far Nissan has failed to make a dent on the competition, with just 300 Infiniti Q50 mid-size sedans sold last year. By comparison, Mercedes sold more than 9000 C-Class sedans.