Special Coverage

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GENEVA – Hyundai Motor Europe takes the wraps off its new i30 C-segment 5-door hatchback here today, which could be headed to the U.S. in wagon form, says Gerry Dorizas, vice president for Hyundai Motor Europe.

The i30 begins a new nomenclature for Hyundai in Europe, with future A-segment cars branded as i10 (current Atos) and B-segment as i20 (current Getz).

Dorizas says the auto maker has yet to decide if the nomenclature, with “i” representing intelligence and innovation and the numbers equating to the size of the car, will make its way outside Europe.

“We’re working very hard to create a brand image here,” he says, noting if Hyundai sells its new C-segment wagon in the U.S. it will keep the i30 name.

For now, the i30 is Hyundai’s attempt to tailor-make a vehicle for European tastes. The model it replaces, the Elantra, sold only 15,000 units annually in Europe, Rafael Agullo, Hyundai Europe deputy general manager-product marketing, tells Ward’s.

Hyundai is aiming for annual sales in Europe of 120,000 i30 units.

The Korean auto maker sold a total 330,000 units last year in Europe, down from 350,000 in 2005. With the addition of the i30, new i10 in 2008 and i20 in 2009, sales of 450,000 units annually are being targeted, Agullo says. The goal for 2007 is to get back to 350,000 units for the year, he says.

Next year, Hyundai will begin selling the new Veracruz large cross/utility vehicle in Europe, Agullo says, but only with the 3L V-6 diesel engine offered in South Korea.

He says the 3.8L V-6 gasoline engine available on the Veracruz in North America and South Korea is unfeasible given the high price of regular unleaded gasoline in Europe.

The i30 in Europe is available in four trim levels and a choice of six engines: three gasoline (1.4L, 108 hp; 1.6L, 120 hp; or a 2L, 141 hp) and three diesels (1.6L 113 hp; 1.6L, 88 hp; or a 2L, 134-138 hp).

Three transmission choices are offered: a 4-speed automatic (1.4L, 1.6L gas, 1.6L diesel); 5-speed manual (all but the 2.0L diesel); and 6-speed manual (2.0L diesel only).

The 5-door will launch this fall, with the wagon to follow.

Design elements of the i30 include sporty but non-aggressive front styling, an unbroken waistline and sculpted rear.

The car’s long wheelbase – 104 ins. (264 cm) – provides increased interior space, and the 60/40 rear seats fold flat, providing for 44 cu-ft. (1.25 cu-m) of load volume; 12 cu.-ft. (0.34 cu-m) with the seats up.

Standard creature comforts include an iPod auxiliary jack, a center lidded upper storage tray and a luggage net.

Hyundai also showed a cross/utility coupe concept, the QarmaQ, which features more than 30 environmentally progressive technologies, such as Elastic Front, which is designed to lessen impacts with pedestrians.

Hyundai says it will “selectively” apply some of the technologies to models due from 2008-2014.

The QarmaQ was engineered in cooperation with GE Plastics, allowing for 3D shapes that could not have been achieved with metal or glass, Hyundai says.

An unusual feature is a panoramic wraparound glazing area, made with GE’s Lexan polycarbonate resin, which flows down from the side glass onto the body of the car.

The QarmaQ is equipped with a 2.0L diesel engine that is Euro5 compliant.

Overall, Hyundai says the QarmaQ is 132 lbs. (60 kg) lighter than a similar vehicle made with traditional materials. It requires about 21 gallons (80L) less diesel fuel per year, as estimated by New York-based environmental-strategy firm GreenOrder.