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First Sight: Hyundai i30

Tue, 13 Sep 2011

Hyundai invited Car Design News for an exclusive sneak preview of the all-new i30 last week, ahead of its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show today.

The event was held in Frankfurt's renowned Cocoon Club (the venue will also play host to this year's Interior Motives Awards, which takes place this coming Wednesday night), and was chosen because of its interior décor – something Hyundai's European Design Chief, Thomas Buerkle, likened to the Korean company's 'Fluidic Sculpture' design language.

"We have been inspired by nature and beautiful shapes," Buerkle told the audience of journalists at the launch. "Our influences have been the energy of water, wind forming stone and giving shape to sand tunes, light reflecting on leaves and creating shapes like curves..."

Hyundai has big ambitions with its new C-segment vehicle, which is heralded as representing a fresh take on Hyundai's Fludic Scupture design language and aims to instill the qualities of the company's new slogan: ‘New Thinking, New Possibilities'. As the brand's best-selling model in Europe, the new i30's goal is to build on the 'quality, reliability and practicality' aspects of its predecessor by now offering 'emotional appeal and style'.

The project was started in 2008, with all of Hyundai's studios participating in the sketching process. "This theme has the most dynamic appeal to attract the emotional aspect of the consumer, not just the rational," Buerkle told CDN, "We don't want owners to decide only with their wallets."

As with the previous generation i30, the new car has also been designed and engineered in Hyundai's European Technical Center in Russelsheim, Germany, with the design overseen by Buerkle. And, as can be expected, the new car has grown slightly. It now measures 4300mm in overall length, an increase of 15mm over its predecessor. The wheels have been pushed further to the corners, the hood has been shortened and the overhangs decreased, so much of the added length is in its wheelbase, a benefit to rear seat passengers.

Seen from the front, the new i30 wears the company's now defining hexagonal-shaped grille, which debuted on the 2006 Genus concept and in production form on the ix35. The grille is paired with Hyundai's new signature headlamps that bleed over onto the fenders and are akin to those of the larger D-segment i40, which sports a similar DRG. New, recessed LED running lamps bordering the integrated fog lamps are nestled in the lower bumper, giving the once playful face a more aggressive demeanor.

The new shorter hood meant that the proportions had to be redefined, and lead to the creation of A-pillars that rise from hood cowl point to visually extend the hood over the windscreen. This, along with the waistline that leads from the grille all the way to the rear of the car, helped communicate the 'dynamic' look so sought after in small vehicles. While there's a distinct similarity to Peugeot's 308 from the front 3/4 view, particularly where the hoodline meets the A-pillar, its an otherwise successful solution.

Moving over to the profile and it's clear the designers have spent time defining the surfacing of the car. The three clearly defined sections along the bodyside are split by a rising characterline, which becomes a more pronounced boneline, casting shadows and reflecting light as it travels rearward towards the C-pillar. This harmonious interplay of convex and concave surfacing is not new, but it's more what you'd expect of more premium German vehicles than one wearing the Hyundai badge.

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By Eric Gallina