Do not adjust your monitor – these aren't year-old spy pictures of the Kia Cee'd. You are, in fact, looking at the Cee'd's sister car, Hyundai's next small family hatchback, caught here in more revealing detail than we've ever seen before.
Autocar's spy photographers snapped the forthcoming five-door hatchback undergoing cold-weather testing in Norway. The shots they took describe a car similar enough to the Kia Cee'd in shape, stance and proportion that, with the disguise this mule is wearing at any rate, you could easily confuse the two. In profile, the Cee'd's window outline is clearly recognisable on this car.
Underneath this Hyundai's disguise lie head- and taillights, and grille and bumper styling that will all better distinguish it from the Kia, all inherited from the Arnejs concept. It will be aimed at a different type of buyer, too; while the Cee'd courts young buyers attracted to a contemporary, sporty-feeling car, the Hyundai will be aimed at a more mature, refined, upmarket customer, and its chassis will be tuned to a softer, more cosseting setting to reflect that.
Inside the cabin, expect to find a more upmarket fascia with better-quality plastics and a slightly more luxurious feel. Equipment levels are likely to be slightly more generous thasn those of the Cee'd too, although the engine range will be fundamentally the same, comprised of 1.4-, 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrol engines and 1.6- and 2.0-litre turbodiesels.
The big unveiling
Hyundai's finished VW Golf-rival is to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in a few weeks, when its name will also be announced. We've referred to it as the Arnejs up until now, but Hyundai sources claim that was just the concept car's name; internally, the brand's Euro-only hatchback has been known by the codename 'FD', but in production form it will be called something else again.
And here's the ironic twist; after Hyundai made so much of the fact that this would be a European car designed and engineered in Europe, exclusively for European tastes, it transpires that the car won’t actually be built in the EU - at least not to begin with. Delays in the construction of Hyundai's new factory in the Czech Republic have meant that it won't be completed in time to for the car's launch later this year. The 'FD' will therefore be built in Korea and imported to Europe until the Czech facility is ready to come online sometime in early 2009.
By then, an estate version of the car will have joined the range, and an MPV spin-off will be next in the product plan. Watch this space for more information on both.