Well-globalized automobile manufacturers have funny ways of disguising things to keep prying eyes away from what’s right around the corner. In some cases, there’s really no disguise necessary, and the Hyundai i30 is a great example of that. The i30 has been Hyundai Europe’s bread-and-butter sales machine that has allowed the company to gain substantial market share throughout the Euro-Zone, where hatchback sales account for a large percentage of all vehicles sold. That said, while the U.S. isn’t prime real estate for car companies to hawk c-segment hatchbacks, the fact that there aren’t very many choices on the menu provides companies like Hyundai with an opportunity to capture market share in a burgeoning, yet often forgotten segment. Not counting the current Elantra Touring, the only vehicles in Hyundai’s lineup without a trunk-lid (besides their CUVs) are the Accent hatchback, and the Veloster.
That’s where the i30 comes in. In Korea, the i30 is sold alongside the Avante (Elantra) sedan to cater to similar buyers with slightly different wants and needs – but effectively, it’s a very similar car. Hyundai plans to do the same with the new Elantra Touring. The current model is a raised and stretched “wagonized” version of the 2010 Elantra and never sold in particularly high numbers (wagons typically don’t). Although Hyundai is going the decidedly more stylish hatchback route this time around, they also don’t seem concerned whether it cannibalizes part of the Elantra sedan’s sales numbers. The Hyundai Elantra sedan has been so popular in the U.S. that the Alabama plant has been operating at 110% capacity and a large percentage of them are being brought over from the Ulsan, South Korea plant as well – despite the lack of product on dealer lots. So, if sedan buyers begin to instead opt for the new Elantra Touring, this may help loosen the grip that the overwhelmingly positive consumer response of the new Elantra sedan has on the company’s manufacturing capacity.
So, exactly what is the i30? It’s basically an even more stylized (never thought that was possible) 5-door version of the Elantra sedan we all know and love, and some of the most influential internet blogs have clearly stated that their sources indicate we will see a rebadged i30 hatchback in the U.S. later this year. The headlamp design on the new Elantra Touring is identical to what’s found on the Elantra sedan, except the hatchback features projector-style headlights instead of reflectors. You’ll also notice that the grill/fascia design is slightly different than what you get on the sedan, and the front and rear fenders receive more pronounced wheel arches as well. Around back, you’ll find the expected nip/tuck as a result of the boot-reduction surgery Hyundai designers performed, with a couple added bonuses – the first of which is a rear backup camera that’s mounted in the rear badge and pops out when the vehicle is put in reverse, and the second being Veloster-style lower reflectors. Although absolutely no information regarding price, packaging, or options has been made public by Hyundai USA, it’s safe to say that federalized i30s… or Elantra Tourings (whatever you want to call it a this point) will probably not include the following features for Benjamins’ sake:
- Chrome door handles
- Available diesel power plant
- Laser-guided cruise control
- Lane departure warning/intervention
- HID headlights
- Side mirror-mounted LED courtesy lamps
- Dual-zone, automatic climate control
- Active park assist
Other than that, it’s safe to say that the Elantra Touring will share the same 1.8 liter “Nu” engine with the Elantra Sedan, or maybe even the Veloster’s 1.6 liter mill… who knows. One thing’s for sure – Hyundai will predictably shoot for a 40-mpg highway rating from the EPA.
The Hyundai i30 is expected to make its U.S. debut as the 2013 Hyundai Elantra at this year’s upcoming Chicago Auto Show, and sales are certainly expected to begin sometime later this year. The sooner Hyundai can get this car on the ground, the better, and we can’t wait to do a more in-depth review of the ‘Toruing as soon as one finds its way onto our dealer lot in Hazelwood. Until then, enjoy the high-resolution photo gallery of the European-spec model below.
Source – Jalopnik
Image Credit – Hyundai Global