Hyundai will launch a Ford Mondeo-sized saloon and estate, created exclusively for Europe, in 2011. The newcomers, badged i40, will be the flagships of the Korean companys range in the UK.
Two new engines a 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol unit and a twin-turbo 1.7-litre diesel will reflect the downsizing trend and help to ensure that emissions of all manual versions are below 160g/km, while some of the technology on offer is normally only found in executive and luxury models.
The car will be pitched into the mainstream family/fleet car market against the Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 508, Vauxhall Insignia and the Volkswagen Passat which, along with the Toyota Avensis, were the main reference cars for the i40 engineering teams.
Hyundai is unfazed by dramatically falling sales for family cars in western Europe, believing that the growing market in former Iron Curtain countries will more than compensate. Even so, the car has been primarily engineered to meet EU requirements.
The largest engine will be the new 2.0-litre GDI petrol unit developing 175bhp and around 160lb ft of torque. CO2 emissions are 156g/km with the six-speed manual transmission fitted, while average economy will be more than 55mpg.
A 140bhp 1.6-litre version of the same engine, which recently made its debut in the Kia Sportage, will also be offered, and there will be three versions of the 1.7-litre turbodiesel which also made its first appearance in the Sportage.
The mainstay of the range will be the 140bhp diesel, which has similar power to the 2.0-litre engines from most of the major European competition, but the range will start with a 125bhp option featuring the Hyundai-Kia Intelligent Stop & Go stop-start system, pegging CO2 emissions at a class low of 113g/km.
In the second half of 2012, Hyundai will add a performance version with twin turbos, upping the power stakes to 160bhp without hurting fuel consumption. The CO2 emissions target with this engine is 119g/km.
Advanced technology features on offer will include adaptive front lights that automatically adjust the beam pattern according to your speed and steering angle, parking assistance that measures kerbside gaps and steers the car in for you, and a lane-keeping system.
Loads of load space
At nearly 4.8 metres long the i40 is roughly the size most of its rivals, but it has an unusually long wheelbase of almost 2.8 metres, ensuring generous legroom and luggage space. Hyundai claims a minimum 553 litres for cargo, stretching to more than 1700 litres with the rear seats folded down. It is based on the front end of the Elantra saloon a model not sold in Europe and the rear of the latest Sonata.
The i40 marks a big step forward in both style and quality for Hyundai in Europe. The trapezoidal front grille will become a Hyundai signature. The i40 estate features a distinctive bowed line in the rearmost roof pillar, taken from the companys Genus concept car of 2006.
Inside, there are plush-feeling materials on all upper surfaces and smart finishes. 'This is the best of what we can offer to the European market,' says creative design manager Casey Hyun.
Hyundai has particularly high hopes for the estate, which will be the first i40 to arrive in western Europe, in May. The saloon will go to eastern Europe first before landing in EU markets at the start of autumn 2011.