01 April 2010

Hyundai: Re-imagining Fluidic i-Sculpture

OUTthere Magazine All Torque Issue 70



In the ferocious, crisis-ridden world of the automobile, manufacturers constantly jostle for the attention of new car buyers. Each new vehicle launch is characterized by bold additions to the dictionary of car speak and Korean giant, Hyundai, now has some of its own.

‘re-imagine’, ‘design DNA’ and ‘fluidic sculpture’ are my new buzz words for the week after witnessing Hyundai Australia’s razzle-dazzle launch of their new compact SUV, ix35.

In the online universe, it seems everything from sandwich spread to off road vehicles are now designated i-something. The buying public might have soundly trashed the idea of smearing i-paste on their sandwiches, but Hyundai have struck a chord.

The first i-sedan, the i30, is part of the Korean’s new uniform ‘design DNA’, centred around the hexagonal motif. Launched in mid-2008 and immediately a hit, the i30 stands up well against established segment leaders such as Ford Focus and VW Polo. Compact i20 will be next and the Sonata replacement, currently codenamed YF, soon after.

Hyundai (pronounced hee-unn-DAY), the 64-year-old South Korean industrial megalith, makes everything from oil tankers and locomotives to MP3 players with a presence in Australia dating back to 1986 when Alan Bond first introduced the little Excels. That cute utilitarian runabout made history by becoming the top selling car in June 1998. Yes, it outsold both Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore with 8663 units. The Korean continued to irk the majors when in 2009 Hyundai Motor Company Australia posted its best-ever annual result. December sales of 4,039 represented a 4.6 per cent market share and an increase of 12 per cent over Dec 2008 results

Apart from Australia, Hyundai’s sales trends have curved the opposite way to most manufacturers around the world. US Fortune Magazine dubbed Hyundai “The toughest car company of them all” saying “competitors hate them, customers love them.” Their flagship, full-size Genesis is gathering awards faster than James Cameron.

The ix35 is an impressively packaged little AWD device and will certainly impact on segment front-runners RAV4, Dualis, Forester and CR-V.

The 2.0 turbo diesel is responsive and amazingly frugal, delivering results in the sub-5.0s when driven carefully. It is the pick of the three engine options. A full suite of electronic driver assistance features is included from the base up, a marketing decision that will certainly put ix35 on the shortlist of the target demographic, the professional, urban-dwelling 25-49 man or woman with a small family.

Styling, without buzzwords, is bold and sexy and, as the marketing team like to remind us, displays masculine chunkiness externally, with a flowing crisp, neat feminine feel inside.

ix35 will be in showrooms around the country by the time you read this. Base model 2WD petrol ‘Active’ is priced from a sensible $26,990 and ranges up to the fully-tricked (18” alloy wheels) ‘Highlander’ at $37,990.

For further information, visit www.hyundai.com.au or one of over 50 dealers around Australia.