Hyundai is secretly preparing to launch itself into the hot hatch market, with a high powered version of its successful Hyundai i30 hatchback. The car will be announced at the Geneva Motorshow in March and go on sale in January 2015.
No details regarding how the car is powered have yet been released though the 1.6-litre engine already in the i30 has already been coaxed up to 184bhp in the Veloster Turbo and is likely to get rather nearer 300bhp in the forthcoming i20-based 2013 World Rally Car.
That said, if the new car is to bring the fight to the likes of the Ford Focus ST, Vauxhall Astra VXR and next generation Volkswagen Golf GTi, it would seem that a 2-litre turbo version of the engine would be the most likely option. A Hyundai insider said the intention was that the car would be "fully competitive with the best of the Europeans." This means a Hyundai with a top speed in excess of 150mph and a 0-60mph time of not much more than 6sec.
The timing of car is significant. Hyundai Motor Europe COO Allan Rushforth concedes that "Hyundai needs to do more to add emotion to the brand". Launching first the Veloster, then the Veloster Turbo and then announcing its return to the WRC is all part of a careful strategy Hyundai hopes will build the brand sufficiently by 2015 to give the i30 GTI (or whatever it’s called) the credibility it needs to succeed in the market place.
It’s a brave step into a new part of the market for Hyundai, but on its sales performance to date, it would be a brave man who bet against it.