More stories related to New York Auto Show NEW YORK – Hyundai Motor America says it will launch a 3-door Accent in 2006, a year after the new 4-door model unveiled at the auto show here makes its market debut this fall.

“This car is going to have a brother and it is just an extraordinary compact car,” John Krafcik, vice president-strategic and product planning, says in an interview.

Krafcik says Hyundai hopes to show the vehicle this year in advance of its 2006 on-sale date.

“It might share hood and fender (design with the 4-door Accent), but the rest of it is all unique,” he says. “It’s an Accent like you’ve never seen before.

“And there’s potentially more coming beyond 24/7,” Krafcik says, referring to HMA’s plan to launch seven new models in 24 months in the U.S.

’06 Hyundai Accent.

Hyundai also continues to explore a model based on the Neos-II concept shown at the 2003 Tokyo motor show, he says. HMA CEO and President Bob Cosmai told Ward’s last fall a Neos II-like vehicle was under study as a possible head-to-head competitor to Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion range. (See related story: Hyundai America Wants Scion-Fighter, Hybrid Models)

“We’ve always loved the Neos-II concept and we continue to work in that space, trying to refine – asking all kinds of questions,” Krafcik says. “What’s the best door arrangement, four forward hinged doors? Does it make sense to have a rearward set of hinged small doors? Personally I’m not a fan of that door configuration; it’s such a compromise from a function standpoint, but it gives you more styling freedom.

“So we’re having those kinds of discussions now.”

Also beyond Hyundai’s 24/7 planning, Krafcik says to stay tuned for further information about a production version of the Portico cross/utility vehicle shown at the Chicago auto show last month. (See related story: Hyundai Ponders CUV, Hybrid AWD for U.S.)

Meanwhile, Hyundai says the new ’06 Accent will feature the most interior volume for a sedan in its class (104.4 cu.-ft. [3 cu.-m]) as its exterior dimensions have grown from the current model. It is 1.8 ins. (4.6 cm) longer overall, 1 in. (2.5 cm) wider and 3 ins. (7.6 cm) taller. The vehicle’s wheelbase has expanded 2.3 ins. (5.8 cm).

The Accent will have just one trim, GLS, and feature a new 1.6L inline CVVT 4-cyl. engine making an estimated 110 hp and 107 lb.-ft. (145 Nm) of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, while a 4-speed automatic is an option.

Interior features include AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, 8-way driver’s seat with adjustable armrest and driver and passenger vanity mirrors. Air conditioning, power doors and windows, and remote keyless entry are optional.

HMA hopes to keep pricing for the new Accent in line with the current model.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com