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i30 starts Hyundai's 18-month product onslaught

Date: 28 June 2007   |   Author: Guy Bird

The most important fleet car Hyundai has ever launched in the UK, the i30, heralds an intensive 18-month new product onslaught, complete with new i-prefixed numbers for its cars rather than curious names and even including a new van.

The new small family hatchback from the Korean firm goes on sale on 1 September as a product squarely sized and pitched at the mainstream key lower medium Ford Focus market in a way the old, smaller Accent never managed.

European and Japanese quality levels with class-leading high specification at low prices will be Hyundai's new trump card. It hopes to sell 11,000 units in its first full year, nudging its current 30/70% fleet/retail split towards the lower-medium segment 60/40% market average in the process.

Standard kit for all cars includes alloy wheels, ESP, CD player, aircon and iPod connection plus the firm's five-year unlimited mileage warranty, and with prices from £10,995 to £16,595 only the sister model Kia Ceed offers a cheaper entry point (but the Hyundai offers more standard kit). There will only be three trims - Comfort, Style and Premium - and top engine sellers are predicted to be the 115PS 1.6 diesel and 109PS 1.4 petrol.

Service, maintenance and repair costs have also reduced, partly by lengthening service schedules and reducing parts content to further appeal to fleets. Hyundai UK's managing director Tony Whitehorn said: "We think we can take business particularly from the French and Japanese makes.[in fact] we have to take business from them."

The i30 will be followed in early 2008 by an estate (called the cross-wagon or CW), the Getz-replacing i10 city car and a Transit-sized van and minibus called TQ with a punchy 170PS 2.5 diesel, followed by a more mainstream 110PS unit in August.

With an i40 Mondeo rival based on a "dramatically facelifted" Sonata due around the same time and the i20 supermini in the autumn, by late 2008 Hyundai's range transformation will almost be complete.