Export strategy success

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2012, 12:00am


Hyundai has built a strong following in Hong Kong. A decade ago, the South Korean marque was regarded as 'cheap', but then the Santa Fe and Tucson sports utility vehicles became worldwide hits on account of their mechanics, durability and economy.

The Sonata rivalled the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Mazda6 in the mid-range executive sector, while the best-selling i30 hatchback was designed in Europe to vie with the Suzuki Swift, Honda Jazz, Chevrolet Beat, baby Volkswagen Golfs, Seats and Fiats in Western markets.

The marque repeats this successful export strategy with its new i40. Designed by European researchers and designers in Russelsheim, Germany, and built on the Sonata's platform in Ulsan, South Korea, the i40 saloon and wagon variants look sleek. The marque describes the cars' look as 'linear sculpture', but their bodywork was really designed to reduce wind resistance and thereby save fuel.

The i40 is also fitted with the LED daytime running lights that now seem the norm in Europe and, if the wagon's rear seems similar to the Toyota Harrier, both cars look competitive with European and Japanese makes on 17-inch wheels.

The i40 saloon (HK$238,000) and wagon (HK$248,000) are fitted with a new two-litre, 174-horsepower 'Nu' direct-injection engine that produces 213Nm of torque, via a manual and automatic transmission with sequential shift.

The interior suffices for commutes with electric-powered seats and a 'lavish' finish, says local dealer Hyundai Hong Kong. A panoramic sunroof and Xenon headlamps are optional extras. The electrically controlled driver's seat can be adjusted in 10 directions and has a new lumbar support to enhance comfort, alertness and safety.

The cars' audio set-up includes six speakers, an AM/FM radio and CD player with MP3 playback, while a premium sound system upgrade consists of a six CD-changer and an external power amplifier with sub-woofer. The sound systems can be operated from buttons on the steering wheel. There are also connections for most music players, and USB memory devices and an optional iPhone/iPod connection cable.

Other standard fittings include an electro-chromic rear-view mirror with a rear-camera display, a Bluetooth system, Smart key, and Rain Sensor.

The i40 also achieved a five-star safety rating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program's crash tests with protection that includes eight airbags, electronic stability braking and hill-control systems.