Senior manager of product planning Scott Williams said while an i30 ‘warm-hatch’ was yet to be signed off by Hyundai head office in South Korea, the brand was very conscious of the benefits a flagship sports model could bring.
“It’s a very successful thing to have a sporty range,” Williams said. “You can see what Mazda has done over the years.
“We’re looking very carefully at that… it does have a halo effect on the brand.”
Williams suggested an i30 sports model powered by a 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine with around 130kW would be “job nearly well done”.
The engine could potentially be shared with the mid-sized Hyundai i40, which is powered by a 130kW/213Nm 2.0-litre GDi – 20kW and 35Nm more than the standard 1.8-litre petrol engine in the i30.
The sports model would get hotter styling and a unique suspension tune, along with other performance upgrades to set it apart dynamically from the rest of the range.
Hyundai Australia product planning manager Scott Nargar said the local brand’s strong relationship with South Korea meant new models were continually being assessed for our market and could be introduced relatively quickly.
“Our conversations with the factory are ongoing,” Nargar said. “We have a great relationship with the factory now. We push hard to get everything we can in Australia.”
He said a smaller-capacity petrol engine for a new entry-level i30 variant might also be considered in time.
“That’s something that could come through in the future. There are a number of engine variants available globally, but at the moment with the new model … our option was for this [1.8-litre] petrol engine and the diesel.
“Obviously Europe are doing some different things and looking at low-capacity cars but I think in Australia [the 1.8-litre petrol] is the engine that is going to suit us best into the future.”
Three smaller four-cylinder petrol engines are available in the new i30 hatch depending on the market: a 73kW/137Nm 1.4-litre, an 88kW/156Nm 1.6-litre, and a 99kW/164Nm direct-injection 1.6-litre.
The outgoing first-generation i30 hatch was available with an 89kW/153Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine. Priced from $19,590 ($1000 below the 2.0-litre variant), the 1.6 SX accounted for almost one-third of i30 hatch sales in the first four months of this year.
Despite not offering a direct replacement for the entry-level petrol variant and dropping the i30cw wagon – which accounted for around 20 per cent of total i30 volume – Hyundai expects local sales of the new i30 to remain steady at around 2500 per month.