Hyundai’s Nurburgring test centre opens in August – Will it metamorphose the next gen i20′s driving manners?

Hyundai’s rise to the mainstream has been so quick and consistent. Step by step, the South Korean carmaker improved its game in almost every department.

Current Hyundai cars are up there with its rivals in terms of aesthetics and quality. If there is any scope of improvement, it has to be the driving dynamics and going by the history, it’s only a matter of time before Hyundai instills its cars with world class ride and handling qualities.

Taking one step towards this goal, Hyundai will open its new test centre at the hallowed Nurburgring race track in Germany. The car maker has released the rendering of the upcoming test facility which will be ready by August 2013.

The test centre has four stories and covers an area of 3,622 square metre. It includes workshops, office buildings and VIP hospitality area. The test centre will be a natural extension of the company’s European technical centre which is located in Russelsheim, Germany.

The test centre provides easy access for the European centre’s powertrain, tuning and evaluation divisions. Hyundai says, steering, suspension, ride and handling characteristics of the cars can be assessed and suitable setups for the European conditions can be achieved with the help of the new test centre.

Another important test to be conducted at the Nurburgring is the “accelerated durability test” which simulates up to 180,000 km of severe driving conditions in just a matter of few weeks, generating valuable data on a wide range of parameters. Hyundai plans to conduct this test on 11 of its cars within the first year!

With the Hyundai Nurburgring test centre in place, expect future cars such as the next generation i20 and Verna to show significant improvements in the ride and handling departments.


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Demand for premium hatchbacks dipped, Hyundai i20 remained unscathed

In the dwindling conditions of the Indian auto market, the premium hatchbacks have failed to pull the attention of masses in the month of May 2013. Reportedly, the hatchback segment, which was once said to be the fastest growing platform in the Indian industry, has declined by almost 14 per cent during the first four months of 2013 as the buyers have switched to new cheap entry level cars. Between January and April, the demand for premium hatchbacks dipped to 38,640 per month as against 44,730 units recorded in the corresponding period of last year.

Demand for premium hatchbacks dipped, Hyundai i20 remained unscathed

However, Hyundai India’s flagship i20 model reported a brilliant success in the market with a growth of 19 per cent. The much appreciated Maruti Swift witnessed a fall of 6 per cent in its demand, whereas Volkswagen Polo recorded a dip of 5 per cent during four months to April. As per Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the sales of Toyota Liva collapsed by 28 per cent and Ford Figo performed even worse at 38 per cent. On the same lines, Nissan Micra was hit the most with a down of 62 per cent during the period.

As the demand for premium hatchbacks fell by 7 per cent during fiscal 2013, the sales of entry level models like Maruti WagonR and Hyundai Eon came as overwhelming for the auto makers. Expressing his views on this, the Executive Director at TNS Automotive, Pradeep Saxena was quoted as saying, “India has a large proportion of first-time car buyers that are withering away due to the grim economic conditions.”

Speaking on the success of i20’s sales figures, the Vice President (Marketing and Sales) of Hyundai Motor India, Rakesh Srivastava commented, “The i20 has been a strong performer with diesel and petrol power train. Its uber life positioning with sporty styling, premium features helped us differentiate to create a premium compact segment and increase our market share in the compact segment.”


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Hatchbacks enter slow lane: Hyundai’s i20 bucks the trend, records 19% growth in sales

NEW DELHI: Premium hatchback cars have failed to override the sluggish market conditions, with cumulative sales in the once fastest-growing segment declining 14% in the first four months of the year as buyers switched to the cheaper entry-level models.

Sales of premium hatchbacks slipped to 38,640 a month on average between January and April, compared with 44,730 units in the year-ago period, a trend that reflects the broader market where sales have continued to decline for the past seven months in a row. Barring Hyundai’s i20, which posted an impressive gain of 19% in sales, all other hatchback models hit the reverse gear.

Market leader Maruti Swift, suffered a 6% decline in sales while Volkswagen Polo was just a shade better at 5% down in the four months to April. According to the data of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, sales of Toyota Liva crashed by 28%, Ford Figo fared even worse at 38% decline and Nissan Micra witnessed the steepest fall of 62% during this period. As sales fell in 2012-13 by 7%, the highest in any fiscal over the past decade, demand has grown for entry-level cars such as Hyundai Eon and Maruti WagonR at the expense of the more aspirational models.

Premium hatchbacks are additional cars in the family and the segment has taken a hit as potential customers are postponing new purchases, said Pradeep Saxena, executive director at market research firm TNS Automotive.

“India has a large proportion of first-time car buyers that are withering away due to the grim economic conditions,” said Saxena, who attributed the slowdown in the sales of Maruti Swiftto possible upgrading by potential customers to the DZire compact sedan.

The Hyundai i20, however, gained about 5.3% share in the segment during the first four months of the year as the company pushed the petrol variant amid rising diesel prices and continued to refresh the model.

“The i20 has been a strong performer with diesel and petrol power train. Its uber life positioning with sporty styling, premium features helped us differentiate to create a premium compact segment and increase our market share in the compact segment,” said Rakesh Srivastava, vice president (marketing & sales) at Hyundai Motor India. Srivastava said the company’s sedan models Verna and Elantra had also gained in their respective segments.


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Hyundai i40 Tourer From £349 Per Month

The Hyundai i40 Tourer Active 1.7 115PS Blue Drive is available – along with other models from the range – via its manufacturer’s personal contract purchase plan. The concept is simple. The motorist chooses their favourite trim. He/she then makes a deposit that precedes fixed monthly payments over a specified time. At the end of the contract the driver can make an optional final payment to own the car outright. Alternatively, it can be returned with nothing else to pay (subject to mileage and condition) The third option is to part exchange via a new personal contract purchase plan. It the vehicle is worth more than the optional final payment – perhaps because used car values are high that day or it has low mileage – the difference contributes toward the replacement’s deposit. Let us consider an example. Terms for the Hyundai i40 Tourer Active 1.7 115PS Blue Drive include the £3,653 deposit. This is followed by thirty-six monthly instalments of £349 and the optional final payment is £5,843.75. The total cost is therefore £20,060.75 which includes £2,295.75 interest (6.9% representative APR). The mileage allowance is 10,000 per-annum and excesses cost 14.9 pence per-mile.

This includes the electric parking brake that prevents it rolling backwards during hill-starts. It also has: air-con, four electric windows and an electronic stability program to make cornering safer. Alternatively, the higher-spec i40 Tourer Style 1.7 CRDi 115PS Blue Drive is also available via a personal contract purchase plan. This trim is beautifully equipped as it adds: touch-screen sat-nav, a rear-view camera, cruise control and front/rear parking sensors to its sibling’s specification. Finance terms include the £4,787.75 deposit that complements thirty-six monthly payments of £359. The final payment is £6,630 which totals £24,341.75 including £2,476.75 interest. Finally, the Hyundai i40 Tourer Premium 1.7 CRDi 115PS Blue Drive is available on finance too. This builds on the Style’s strengths via its panoramic roof and luxurious leather seats, etc. All for thirty-six payments of £369, the £6,291.50 deposit and the £7,331.25 optional final payment. This totals £26,906.75 including £2,641.75 interest. Both finance plans have a representative 6.9% APR. But whichever trim you choose the Hyundai i40 Tourer is a capable car. As such its cargo capacity eclipses most competitors, it has confident handling, nice looks and a five year manufacturer warranty.


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Hyundai Mistra continues testing in Korea

The Hyundai Mistra was unveiled at the 2013 Auto Shanghai last month. The Mistra is the China specific luxury sedan from the Korean car maker.

The Mistra is the English name of the car while the Chinese name of the car is Hyundai ‘Mingtu’. Hyundai believes that there is some potential in between the Sonata and the Elantra for a new car like the Mistra.

Hyundai Mistra

Not only Hyundai, but rivals Honda believe the same. Which is why at a few halls away at the same Shanghai Motor Show, the Honda Crider was announced. The Crider sits in between the Accord and the Civic and will be a rival to the Mistra. Ford’s Escort concept hints at something similar, to fill the space between the Focus and the Mondeo.

Hyundai Mistra rear

The Mistra measures 4,710mm in length, 1,820mm in width and 1,470mm in height. The wheelbase of the rivals bigger cars such as the VW Passat at 2,770mm as well. The car was shown with 19-inch alloy wheels during the official unveiling and a new color termed as ‘Frost Jade’ adorned the body of the near-production concept.

Hyundai Mistra rear three quarter

The Mistra is a 50:50 joint venture between Hyundai and BHMC (Beijing Hyundai Motor Company). While Hyundai hasn’t released any details on the engines, local media speculate that a pair of petrol engines displacing 1.8-liters and 2.0-liters would power the luxury sedan.

Hyundai Mistra front wheel arch

The Mistra is expected to go on sale in China by the end of this year or early next year.

Hyundai Mistra front three quarter at the 2013 Auto Shanghai

The Mistra was shown with a special ‘Frost Jade’ body color exclusive to the Auto Shanghai concept.


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Hyundai i20 WRC Starts Testing for 2014

Hyundai has announced it’s successfully completed the first shakedown session of their i20 WRC. The car is set to enter the WRC scene next year, the i20 race car has been put together by a team Hyundai poached from other Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota.

This was the very first time when the i20 rally car was taken out of its workshop and onto the road, as it covered a total of 550 km to test its 1.6-liter turbocharged engine as wet as setups for road and gravel.

The start of the 2014 season is little more than half a year away, debuting with the Rallye Monte Carlo in January. Rumor has it the i20 won’t be ready in time for to put in a full season.

“Indeed, it has been a busy few months here at Hyundai Motorsport as we prepared to kick-off our testing programme to get ready for the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship. After starting our operations from scratch at the Alzenau factory in early January, we have been developing the car and now we can put the theory into practice. The car is on the road and I have to admit it was quite an emotional moment to see the latest specification of the i20 WRC in action for the first time.”team principal Michel Nandan said.


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Insight – Hyundai joins Kia in targeting top of sales chart

South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia are planning to unseat the biggest players in the UK new car market.

Hyundai has now followed sibling brand Kia by revealing its aim for a top five spot in the sales charts by the end of the decade.

Based on last year’s 2m market, achieving such a postion would require the brands to outsell the likes of Nissan, BMW and Audi.

Combined, the two would be ahead of Vauxhall and only just behind current number one Ford.

Few, however, believe that Hyundai and Kia can’t achieve their bold aims. They are already the fastest growing brands on the UK market – Kia expects to be selling 100,000 a year by 2020, up from an expected 70,000 this year and Hyundai UK boss Tony Whitehorn also expects to hit six figures in that timeframe, up from around 75,000 this year.

Kia has just had its best ever first quarter in the UK since the scrappage years. The brand sold 19,204 vehicles, up from 17,211 in the first three months of last year, while Hyundai, at 20,000, was ahead by 12.5 per cent over 2012.

The only issue facing both brands is a shortage of cars – Hyundai and Kia’s global factories cannot cope with global demand. “We have reached a point where demand is ahead of our global production capacity which in the current climate is not a bad place to be,” Whitehorn tellsHeadline Auto.

“The company is looking at the capacity issues and in the meantime we will concentrate on the brand image. In a very short space of time, over the past four to five years, we have gone from a budget brand to mainstream. Our networks, marketing and the way we deal with customers has to reflect this.

“We are finding that customers’ expectations from us are increasing all the time and so we have to manage this ready for the next sales push in 2015.”

According to Hyundai’s Aftersales director Nick Tunnell the brand’s growth since the scrappage years has brought in new customers, many of whom had not used a franchised dealer before.

The launch of an online survey last year has highlighted some interesting points, he adds. “Whereas our previous telephone surveys were very much box-ticking exercises, online responses have proved to be much more detailed.

“For example, while people will say they enjoyed the sales or service experience as a whole, they were disappointed with the coffee, the seats or even the toilets. These are small points but we need to address them.”

To improve the ‘brand experience’ Hyundai is making its servicing schedules easier to understand and more transparent in pricing and providing extended five year servicing plans which are fully transferable to a new owner, even on older vehicles.

“We are raising standards at dealerships including workshops and back end facilities. Our technicians our now highly trained and need to work in an environment that reflects this and the technology in our vehicles,” Tunnell says.

The company is also looking at carrying customer reviews online but is still looking at the detail. “People now rarely stay in a hotel without looking at reviews first. We have to plan how we go about this and in terms of intent there is a need to be as transparent as possible.”

Hyundai currently has 153 UK dealers and is looking to increase this to 165 by the end of the year, and according to Tunnell the brand has a queue of people wanting to join the network due to growing sales.

Whitehorn says as Hyundai grows, the brand needs larger, regional dealer groups rather than the smaller ‘owner-drivers’ of the past. “The small, family-owned dealerships still have their place but in metropolitan areas we need businesses that can handle a throughput of 500 cars a year.”


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