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Future products: Hyundai's push will change the look of showrooms

Tue, 24 Aug 2010

Hyundai is introducing seven new or redesigned models in a 24-month stretch that ends in the fall of 2011. So naturally the Hyundai guys refer to their product onslaught as “24/7.”

And the pace won't slow much after those seven models hit the streets.

Significant new entries also are planned for 2012 and 2013, including Hyundai's first fuel cell electric vehicle, a redesigned Veracruz full-sized crossover and a replacement for the Azera full-sized sedan.

Here's a rundown:

Accent: The redesigned subcompact, based on the Verna sold in Korea, will arrive next spring with styling similar to that of the Verna. It will feature Hyundai's new Gamma-series engine, a 1.4-liter four-banger with 106 hp. At the Verna's Beijing show unveiling in April, Hyundai also showed a 1.6-liter engine with 121 hp. But company officials said they doubted the more powerful engine will come to the United States because of cost.

Elantra: The swoopy styling seen on the Sonata and coming Accent will extend to the redesigned 2011 Elantra sedan and five-door, which arrive in the United States in January. The engine family will be updated with a 1.6-liter Gamma series four-cylinder. But it has not been decided whether a 121-hp multiport injected or 140-hp direct-injected version will be offered. The five-door may have a slightly taller silhouette, similar to that of the Europe-market i30 and Kia Rondo. For now, a wagon variant is planned for Europe only.

Veloster: The small, sporty coupe will arrive in the spring. The 140-hp Elantra-based car, tentatively called the Veloster, will be powered by a 1.6- liter direct-injection engine teamed with either a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission. Hyundai claims it will get 41 mpg. Spy photos show a hatchback roofline. The driver's side has only one door, while on the passenger side there is a suicide door for back-seat occupants.

Sonata: A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged version due this fall will compete against V6 entries in the mid-sized sedan segment. The Sonata Turbo will make 274 hp and get 22 mpg city/34 mpg highway--for a sticker price of less than $25,000. Meanwhile, a Sonata wagon has been spotted during tests in Europe. So far it's planned only for European release, but Hyundai executives are considering bringing it to the United States. A coupe could be added in 2012 or 2013. A 37/40 mpg hybrid version will be the first mainstream vehicle on sale using lithium polymer batteries. Instead of a continuously variable transmission, the hybrid will have a six-speed automatic with no torque converter. The hybrid will have a different fascia to distinguish it from gasoline-powered models.

Azera: Despite the growing number of upper-range Hyundai sedans, expect a redesigned Azera--known as the Grandeur in Korea--to remain slotted between the Sonata and the Genesis. It will arrive in the spring of 2012. The engine will be either a 3.3- liter or a 3.6-liter V6. The front-drive Azera and rear-drive Genesis have close to the same footprint, but Hyundai executives say the two cars will attract different customers. The Genesis is a few inches longer and costs $7,000 more than the current Azera, but expect the next Azera to move upscale.

Genesis: Next spring the V8 in the Genesis sedan and coupe will be replaced with the same 5.0-liter V8 planned for the Equus.

Equus: The 203.1-inch-long flagship sedan, priced at about $60,000, will debut this fall with a 385-hp, 4.6-liter V8 teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Next spring a direct-injection 5.0-liter V8 with 429 hp and 376 pounds-feet of torque will replace the 4.6-liter V8. The Equus will be sold in standard and long-wheelbase versions. Expect the usual electronic and safety features found on a luxury car of this caliber, such as cooled massaging leather seats, pre-collision systems, adaptive air suspension and parking cameras.

Tucson: The crossover was redesigned for the 2010 model year.

Santa Fe: The Nuvis concept shown at last year's New York auto show is said to preview the Santa Fe successor that will arrive in late 2011. The Nuvis is 188.3 inches along and 77.6 inches wide, significantly longer and wider than the current Santa Fe. But expect the Nuvis' look to be toned down. The Nuvis' narrow aperture rear window and thick hatchback D-pillar make for a massive blind spot that likely will be improved by production time. Hyundai estimates that an optional hybrid powertrain on the new Sante Fe will deliver 40 mpg on the highway.

Veracruz: Figuring the usual six-year product cycle, a new full-sized crossover would be scheduled to go on sale in the spring of 2013, based on the new Kia Sorento NF/CM platform. Some sources say it could arrive as early as June 2012.

Entourage: The minivan was pulled from the lineup at end of the 2009 model year.

Electric vehicle: Hyundai will unveil a fuel cell vehicle in 2012. Global volumes are expected to be limited to 500 to 1,000 units for the first two years, but the 2015 target is 10,000. Hyundai has not disclosed the vehicle type or said which platform will be used, but its 2007 i-Blue concept was similar in silhouette to the BMW X6.

Pickup: Hyundai conducted a consumer clinic on pickups this year. But more recently, executives have said a pickup is not a priority through the next product cycle--at least compared to hybrid technology. If a pickup were to arrive, it would not be until 2016 at the earliest.

Ryan Beene contributed to this report

By Mark Rechtin- Automotive News