FRANKFURT -- Hyundai will launch a four-door fastback version of its i30 to help bring a more upmarket appeal to the compact car's range.
The fastback variant has been dubbed Hyundai's "baby Panamera" by company executives in homage to the sleek Porsche sedan. It will replace the i30 three-door, which will be discontinued following slow sales. A station wagon will also form part of the new range. No dates were given for their introduction.
The new i30 five-door will debut at the Paris auto show on Sept. 28 and will go on sale in Europe in the spring.
"There has been a massive change in customer behavior in last five years," Hyundai Europe chief operating officer Thomas Schmid told Automotive News Europe. "We have deleted the three-door in place of a fancy, sexy fastback. The fastback has sporty coupe styling but with four doors it will be practical for everyday needs.
Schmid said sales of the three-door were about 10 percent of total sales of the current i30 lineup in Europe.
Hyundai's previous attempt at a more practical coupe, the Veloster, hasn't been a sales success.
The new i30 was designed in Europe and is based on the same platform as the Ioniq range of low-emission cars, the brand said.
Hyundai has updated its design language in the i30 by restyling the hexagonal grille to include a concave element.
"It's the start of new era for the brand. We will continue working on that for future models," Hyundai Group Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer said the model unveiling. The design is the next step in brand's "modern premium" language, Hyundai Europe's head of design Thomas Burkle said.
The hatchback version will include a performance model for the first time, badged N. The car is expected to compete against cars such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Opel Astra OPC. A concept version of the car will be unveiled at the Paris auto show ahead of sales later next year.
The i30 will be the first Hyundai to have a driver attention safety feature that makes an audible sound gives and message on the instrument display panel if it detects inattentive driving. Other safety features include lane-keeping assist and radar-guided cruise control.
The i30's body-in-white is built with 53 percent high-strength steel, twice as much as the outgoing car. That improves the car's rigidity by 20 percent, which in turn makes for a more agile handling car, the company said.
The i30 will be offered with a choice of two gasoline and three diesel engines, with the most frugal diesel emitting 89 grams of CO2 per km.
The i30 is a key model for Hyundai Europe. In the first six months the car was the company's fourth biggest seller after the Tuscon compact SUV, i20 and i10 minicar with sales of 42,355 according to data from JATO Dynamics. Last year it was the 10th best-seller in the compact car segment with sales of 84,308.
The i30 will continue to be built at Hyundai's Nosovice plant in the Czech Republic.