A fresh pair of i’s

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - News - JOHN CAREY

HYUNDAI’S new i30 fam­ily will grow to in­clude a wagon and a sporty fast­back. A pair of ad­di­tional mod­els have been ap­proved for pro­duc­tion, com­pany de­sign chief Peter Schreyer told Cars­guide at the re­cent in­ter­na­tional Frank­furt pre­miere of the new i30 five­door hatch­back.

“The five-door ver­sion is the first mem­ber of the fam­ily, a fam­ily of prod­ucts that will speak to peo­ple with dif­fer­ent needs, fo­cus­ing ei­ther on el­e­gance or prac­ti­cal­ity or sporty emo­tions,” promised Schreyer dur­ing his for­mal in­tro­duc­tion speech to as­sem­bled in­ter­na­tional me­dia.

As he spoke, the large screen be­hind briefly showed three sil­hou­ette sketches. “If you take a closer look, here at the graphic, you may get a glimpse of the fu­ture and the things to come in the i30 fam­ily,” Schreyer teased. “Just use your imag­i­na­tion.”

When asked how many i30 vari­a­tions have so far been given the green light for pro­duc­tion, the de­sign boss didn’t evade the ques­tion: “Bodystyle-wise, three.” This num­ber in­cludes the five-door, Schreyer ex­plained, but not the high-per­for­mance i30 Hyundai is pre­par­ing for launch late next year.

One of them is sure to be a wagon, with a longer tail and more cargo room than the reg­u­lar hatch. Cars­guide can con­firm the other will be a low and sporty car aimed at those seek­ing style in­stead of space. De­spite its role, Hyundai sources say the glam­our model of the i30 line-up will have five doors, not the usual three.

With the new i30, Hyundai is also aim­ing for im­proved ride and han­dling to go with the classier looks. Cars for the Euro­pean mar­ket will all be made in a fac­tory in the Czech Repub­lic and all will come with a mod­ern in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion de­sign.

Cars des­tined for Aus­tralia will be shipped, as be­fore, from Korea. Hyundai Aus­tralia says the most ba­sic model of the new i30 will come with a sim­ple and cheap twist-beam semi­in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion. The Euro­pean-de­vel­oped al­ter­na­tive will only go into the more costly ver­sions.

Will it make a dif­fer­ence? Hyundai chas­sis de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer An­tonino Piz­zuto, who worked on the i30 pro­gram, be­lieves some driv­ers will no­tice. The Hyundai has more di­rect and re­spon­sive steer­ing and he says the in­de­pen­dent rear end works bet­ter with it.

“If you have a very ag­ile car with a weak rear sus­pen­sion, you will not feel it bal­anced or con­nected,” he says.

But the en­gi­neer notes that a big-name Ger­man brand has a hugely suc­cess­ful car where the cheaper ver­sions also get a twist-beam rear sus­pen­sion. He doesn’t name names, but he’s clearly re­fer­ring to Volk­swa­gen and its cur­rent Golf. “The main dif­fer­ence is we are not that Ger­man brand,” Piz­zuto says. “We have to show our skills, and this car is start­ing to do this job.”

While the more ex­pen­sive in­de­pen­dent rear end is a nat­u­ral choice “for the more re­fined Euro­pean mar­ket”, he doesn’t think Aus­tralian cus­tomers will be put off by the cheaper sus­pen­sion in ba­sic mod­els. “You will not get dis­ap­pointed by the twist-beam ver­sion,” he says, though ad­mits it couldn’t de­liver all at­tributes prized by chas­sis en­gi­neers.

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