Hyundai tries its luxe at high end
US already have an all-wheeldrive option), along with a luxury sports coupe.
Of more interest to the Australian division will be the G70 compact rear-wheel-drive sedan and SUV, which will compete with the likes of the Lexus IS sedan/NX SUV, BMW 3 Series/X3 and Audi A4/Q3.
Thomas says details are scarce: “We don’t even know yet if the new models will be built in right-hand drive” but predicts a Genesis sub-brand could work in Australia.
“The prestige compact sedan and SUV market is booming and, based on how the Genesis sedan has been received here, we think there’s a lot of upside.”
Former VW Group designer Luc Donckerwolke, who was involved in the styling of everything from the Audi R8 Le Mans to the Lamborghini Gallardo before joining Hyundai this year, will head the luxury division.
Hyundai hasn’t commented on the chassis or drivetrains for the new models but Thomas predicts they won’t be borrowed from the Hyundai range.
“The press release indicates they’ll be bespoke models,” Thomas says, referring to the official line: “Genesis models will boast outstanding driving dynamics and design, with innovations tailored to closelymeet the needs of customers”.
The announcement follows revelations Hyundai will also develop an N performance division, mirroring the likes of Mercedes’ AMG line-up and Lexus’s F Performance range.
The first hi-po Hyundai will be based on the new i30 platform due in 2017.
Hyundai’s move up-market is a calculated risk that has not worked for the likes of Mazda, who failed to establish the prestige Eunos brand here during the early 1990s. Nissan is likewise struggling to gain traction with its Infiniti prestige line-up.
Toyota’s Lexus division is the exception as a viable standalone player in Australia.
Going up-market: Hyundai’s existing Genesis model (above); company vice-chairman Chung Eui-Sun announces the maker’s new luxury brand “Genesis” in Seoul during the week.