Hyundai is working on high-performance versions of both its i30 hatchback and i40 saloon, the firm’s European bosses have revealed.
Hyundai already has a hot petrol model in the pipeline; the Veloster Turbo, which will get a 198bhp 1.6-litre engine. However, speaking at the i30 launch in Spain, Hyundai Motor Europe’s vice-president, Allan Rushforth, admitted that the manufacturer knows it will have to release more focused versions of its regular cars.
‘We know that if we’re trying to get more excitement into our brand, we’ve got to do something not just with football [Hyundai is a sponsor of the Euro 2012 championship], but with our product as well,’ said Rushforth.
‘We are considering more performance-oriented variants, with better-tuned, more focused handling, at the top of both our i30 and i40 ranges.’
Hyundai has long been tipped to introduce a hot i30. However, the news that a performance i40 is under consideration will come as a surprise to many, particularly because few of the car’ key rivals, including the Ford Mondeo and the Volkswagen Passat, offer such a version.
While it’s likely that the i30 hot hatch will use the same engine as the Veloster Turbo, the quicker i40 could feasibly get a more highly tuned diesel motor.
Rushforth also confirmed that Hyundai is working on rolling out dual-clutch semi-automatic transmissions across its range. The Veloster is the only Hyundai model offered with such a gearbox; the i30 and i40 both use regular six-speed automatics.
However, Rushforth said, ‘We’ve got the Veloster out there; now we’re looking at developing a dual-clutch transmission strategy for the whole range. There could be applications right across our model line-up,’ he admitted.
The new i40 is proving an early success with British buyers. Endorsement from some key corporate buyers means there’s now a 400-car backlog of orders – enough to account for supply until late April.
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