Hyundai's Small-Car Smackdown
The Korean automaker takes aim at young drivers with a new hatchback and concept car.
2012 Hyundai Veloster
Hyundai seems bent on nothing short of global automotive domination. And at the breakneck pace at which the South Korean automaker has been introducing high-quality, low-cost new cars, it seems well on its way.
Two years ago, Hyundai announced it would launch seven new products in 24 months as part of a "24/7 version 2.0 product initiative." It has kept true to that promise, both in terms of pace and product appeal. Just look at the Genesis, Equus, Sonata and, most recently, the Elantra — all great cars.
Here at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the company unveiled the sixth model in its 24/7 product push, the 2012 Veloster. That leaves only the new Accent, coming later this year, to complete Hyundai's 24/7 strategy. Also on display is a funky concept car called the Curb. Both are small, sporty and aimed squarely at today's youth.
What is it? A replacement for the Tiburon that competes with stylish hatchbacks like the MINI Cooper and Scion tC.
What makes it special? The Veloster features an odd, 2-plus-1 door layout — a regular, long, coupe-style door on the driver's side of the car, and a two-door, conventional-hinge layout on the passenger side — and best-in-class seating and cargo capacity. Its design also incorporates several motorcycle motifs, including wraparound windows reminiscent of a helmet visor and a center console shaped like a sport bike's fuel tank. Propulsion is provided by an all-new 1.6-liter 138-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed dual clutch transmission, which acts like an automatic but shifts quicker and helps to improve gas mileage. The automaker estimates highway fuel economy in the 40-mpg range.
When will it be available? Summer 2011
How much will it cost? Starting price will be around $17,000
MSN Autos' take? With the Veloster, Hyundai takes its relentless drive to beat competitors into a fickle category that puts an emphasis on style, cachet and sporty driving. If it can successfully compete on those terms, the Veloster should be a hit by adhering to Hyundai's strategy of offering more for less.
Curb Crossover Concept
What is it? A test bed of ideas aimed at young drivers.
What makes it special? The Curb Crossover concept is an urban utility vehicle with a rugged and high-tech look that is meant to attract Generation Y consumers. It's smaller than the smallest crossover currently in Hyundai's lineup, the Tucson, and features deep scallops on the front doors that stretch to the tail of the vehicle. Other features include a pop-up roof rack and a rear bike rack that folds out of the exhaust vents. While the exterior might seem close to being production-ready, the interior is pure show car, dominated by an all-encompassing touch-screen that "flows like a river" across the dashboard and into the rear seating area.
When will it be available? The Curb as shown in concept form isn't likely to hit showrooms, but elements of its styling and technology could find their way to future products.
What will it cost? Not available.
MSN Autos' take? A production vehicle the size of the Curb would give Hyundai a smaller entry in the hot crossover category and would be a serious threat to the Nissan Juke. The concept itself has a lot of fluff, as most concept cars do, but it does show some substance and innovation, such as thin seats that improve interior space, and linking the touch-screen interface with online social media outlets.
Matthew de Paula wanted to be an automotive journalist ever since reading his first car magazine in grade school. After a brief stint writing about finance, he helped launch ForbesAutos.com and became the site's editor in 2006. Matthew now freelances for various outlets.
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They need to release that Curb with AWD and a good traction control system and I am on board. A roof rack that pops up when needed.. why haven't more developers thought of this?... It is unfortunate that it is only a concept and by the time they do release their cross-over it will probably look nothing like the curb. Oh well, time will tell.
I'm impressed with the new designs that Hyundai has put out but the one issue that would keep me from purchasing a Hyundai would be the Dealership service departments. There are 2 Hyundai Dealerships in my general area and I have only heard NEGATIVE comments from the 2 Dealerships in my area.
I've owned many cars including Honda, Acura, Pontiac, Buick, Volvo, Toyota, Chevrolet, Mitsubishi, Mercury, Lincoln, etc and from my experiences Service has to be top notch to keep my business. I'm sure Hyundai are building better vehicles than in the past but if the service department isn't Top Notch than who wants to deal with them? What I would like for my next car is an AWD Manual Shift that has some power, gets decent gas mileage (over 35 MPH) and doesn't cost $30.000. Seems like an impossibility.