Hyundai Makes Headlines in Geneva

Hyundai i30

Hyundai announced this week that it plans to showcase two new vehicles–a stylish new hatchback and a concept crossover–at next week’s Geneva Auto Show. I don’t think any of the CarGurus are going to be there in person, but the folks at GlobalAutoIndex.com have a preview for us. The newly launched hatchback, named the “Hyundai i30”, is clearly influenced by the curvilinear Arnejs concept car displayed at last year’s Paris show.

It’s pretty! A little safer and boxier than the Arnejs concept, but overall it’s an attractive tweak of the standard hatchback form. According to the Hyundai press release, the new i-Series will expand to include a station wagon as well. One of the advantages of the i30 (again, according to the press release) is a longer wheelbase than other hatchbacks; this, Hyundai contends, means greater comfort for passengers and more cargo capacity.

That’s all well and good. What intrigues me most about the Hyundai i30, though, is its modular design. The i30 will be available with a choice of three gasoline engines and three diesel engines; all will be offered with both manual and automatic transmission.

Hyundai’s offering the i30 on the European market as a serious rival to the Volkswagen Golf. The five-door hatchback segment is super-hot right now, with Fiat’s Bravo relaunch and Punto retooling, not to mention the Opel Corsa OPC I’ve been drooling over. Hyundai’s entry, though, is stylish and affordable enough to give the European automakers a run for their money.

The other new Hyundai offering, the HED-4, is a concept crossover utility vehicle created in conjunction with GE Plastics. Yep, you read that right–plastics. Its features include a wrap-around Lexan windshield and a proprietary Elastic Front (TM) pedestrian safety system. All we’ve got is a sketch right now, but it looks super-cool.

Hyundai HED-4 The idea here is that the lightweight body is both environment- and pedestrian-friendly. Of course, this is a concept, and I’m not expecting to see people driving around in Lexan SUVs any time soon. But once again, we’re seeing a lot of creativity here, this time from South Korea. Are the Big Three going to catch up?

Read all about it at GlobalAutoIndex.com: http://www.globalautoindex.com/news/plt?no=1764

and at Caradisiac.com.

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