Hyundai wants i30 Fastback to jolt 'boring' compact segment
DUSSELDORF, Germany -- Hyundai hopes its new i30 Fastback will give Europe’s compact segment a boost at a time when so many car buyers are switching to SUVs.
The Korean carmaker’s chief operating officer for Europe, Thomas Schmid, told Automotive News Europe at a press event here that the move to SUVs “might be because the C-segment is a bit boring.”
He hopes the i30 Fastback, which reminds him of a classic Gran Turismo, will ignite a passion for coupe-styled four-door compacts from volume brands.
“We are the first in this segment with this type of car,” Schmid said, “and now we have the biggest lineup in the C-segment.”
The i30 Fastback, which will be available across Europe by the beginning of 2018, joins a Hyundai's European compact model lineup that includes a hatchback, wagon and the i30 N from Hyundai’s new N high-performance subbrand.
All variants of the i30 will be made at the automaker’s plant in Nosovice, Czech Republic.
“The enlargement of the i30 family is an important step in our road to 2021,” Schmid said. By that year, Hyundai aims to pass Toyota and Nissan to become Europe’s top-selling Asian brand. It currently ranks third.
To get there, the South Korean automaker also plans a significant expansion of its SUV lineup, boosting its offering to four crossovers by 2019 from two now.
To pass its Japanese rivals, however, Hyundai knows it will also need models such as the i30 Fastback, which Europe design chief Thomas Buerkle considers “challenge” for Hyundai.
“We want to see how the market reacts,” he said. “In some markets, such as the UK, this kind of GT-looking sedan is very popular.”
In southern Europe, he thinks it could appeal to women as well as singles or couples with children. To make the i30 Fastback sportier looking, the roof has been lowered by 25mm, Buerkle added.
Since the i30 Fastback is a niche model within the compact segment Hyundai is cautious about its volume projection for the car.
“We have a target of selling the i30 Fastback in a very small double-digit thousand number,” Schmid said. “But I feel it will be much higher. Although it will take away some customers from the hatchback version.”
The price of the i30 Fastback has not been decided, but it will be “as close as possible” to that of the other versions, Schmid said.
The car’s powertrain lineup will consist of two downsized turbocharged gasoline engines and a newly developed 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel.
The i30 Fastback will have its public debut at the Frankfurt auto show in September.