By on December 20, 2010

When TTAC’s Tal Bronfer caught a D-segment Hyundai station wagon brake testing in Austria’s Groβglockner High Alpine Road, we concluded that the “Sonata wagon” was

not a simple sheetmetal job

It turns out that was something of an understatement.

Hyundai is announcing that its Euro-market midsizer, known as the i40, will debut as a wagon at the Geneva Auto Show in March, with a sedan version coming later next year. And based on these first official renderings, it appears that the i40 is definitely not a Sonata, as the exterior look seems to split the difference between the Sonata Hybrid and the forthcoming Elantra. Under the skin, however, the German-developed i40 is probably quite similar to the Sonata. Hyundai is calling the i40 its “New European Flagship,” and says the model will offer

he latest environmental technologies developed under the company’s Blue Drive™ eco-program, and a powertrain line-up which boasts best-in-class performance and fuel economy, and very low CO2 emissions.

Hyundai-blog reckons this means that

Under the hood, there will be a wide range of highly-advanced gasoline and diesel four-cylinder engines available. Entry-level i40W will be offered by Hyundai’s latest 1.6L GDI engine, which churns out 140 horsepower, while the top of the range i40W will feature a 177-hp 2.0L gasoline engine. Diesel power will come out from the all-new 1.7L CRDI diesel engine, which will pack 115 (low output model) or 136 horsepower (high output model).

A more potent 2.0L R-diesel engine will also be added to the range later, says Hyundai. The 2.0L CRDI diesel engine will pack 177 horsepower and will be mated to Hyundai’s all-new dual clutch automatic transmission.

Which brings us to the portion of this blog post where we are contractually obligated to wonder aloud whether a midsized wagon fits into Hyundai’s US market plans. Hyundai isn’t saying, so we’ll turn the question over to the B&B: should Hyundai bring a midsized wagon stateside, and if so, should they keep the i40’s distinctive look or re-style it to look more like the Sonata?

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21 Comments on “i40: Hyundai’s Wagon-First Assault On Europe’s Midsized Market...”

  • avatar

    Reminds me of a sleeker Venza, well played Hyundai, well played!

  • avatar

    The trapazoidal front grill is Hyundai’s new design language. Expect our Sonata to get a similar front end in the mid cycle update.

    Wagons are tough. What’s the rational for incremental sales of the Sonata name at the expense of the more profitable Santa Fe and Tucson? Personally I would love it, but it wouldn’t be a huge seller, as many many previous wagons have shown – Mazda6 wagon anyone?

    Of course, we will have posts dreaming about the mythical 6 speed stick AWD 2.0T Sonata wagon.

  • avatar

    I like it, although it needs the 2.0T and a manual (not holding my breath on the manual)

    I think making it the range-topping model is a bad idea though.  This should be priced within ~$750 of a comparable Sonata.  And it should be available in the US.

  • avatar

    They’ll have to crunch the numbers…
    If CAFE won’t classify it as a truck, they could get slighted on fleet fuel economy. In addition, it stands to cannibalize sales of Santa Fe and the other Kiundai “crossovers.”
    My personal take is “Bring it here and I’ll pay sticker.” The businessman and auto industry follower thinks this has a less than 20% chance of making it to the US in any iteration. 10% if the Elantra wagon comes out here.

  • avatar

    The Legacy wagon’s death seemed to me to be the final nail in the coffin for affordable (under $30k) classic station wagons. With it’s sloped roof, this i40 probably won’t be as spacious and practical as the Camry, Accord, and Taurus wagons of yore, however, and it lacks the Outback’s AWD. It would certainly be a gamble, but if any automaker is in a position to take a couple chances here and there, it’s Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar

      My old lady’s Passat wagon (2002, also with true AWD) also has the straight roofline and squared rear you rarely see on wagons anymore. It makes a huge difference in what I call “usable load opening.” In other words, the opening is basically the same size as the cargo area, rather than tapered towards the back like most current designs. I’m sure these newer ones are better on aerodynamics, though.
      I miss the Legacy…

    • 0 avatar

      The sloping roof, though reducing cargo space and function, is what could make this car work in NA. The squared off wagon look seems to be a serious turn off to American buyers who might otherwise go for the added functionality of a rear hatch, but the converging roof and belt lines give the car some sportiness to offset the stodginess associated with a fifth door.

  • avatar
    John R

    That’s tough. I see that hideous CrossTour more and more frequently. So maybe there is a way in. Perhaps if they didn’t call it a wagon here but something more…pretentious…Sonata Estate?
    They might do well also if they only sold it with two trim levels; both reasonably loaded with HID fronts & fogs and LED rears, but with lower trim without satnav.
    While we’re on the subject why does the top trim Sonata in Korea get LEDs but not here in the US? I would think that an excellent way to differentiate the Sonata Turbo from the NA models would be to use LEDs.

  • avatar

    Autobild says that it is based on the US version of the Sonata so theoretically if the demand is there they can easily build it for us.

  • avatar

    I doubt we’ll see this.  Even in Europe, wagons are falling to MPVs, and in North America this would just eat into margins that would be better-spent funding Tucsons and Santa Fes.
    Low-roof wagonoids, outside of compacts, are just not selling here.  If we see anything, we’ll probably see a new Rondo based off this platform instead.

    • 0 avatar

      The Rondo isn’t coming back since Kia has the Forte-5 door to go along w/ the Sportage and Sorento.

      Hyundai had been working on the Portico (quasi-CUV/MPV) but there are mixed reports about it being cancelled or Hyundai going back to the drawing board.

  • avatar

    I’m not so sure an i40 based wagon is needed in North America, but it would fill a void left when the Camry and Accord wagons ended production. While I personally don’t need a large wagon, I would like to see the i30 wagon (aka Elantra Touring) over here with a diesel option and 3 pedals. I like the looks of the current Elantra wagon but I dislike gas engines and transmissions that attempt to shift themselves.

  • avatar

    Is this like a non-jacked-up version of the Toyota Venza?  This one looks a lot better, at least in the pictures.  How is the Venza selling?  I would think that the i40 is likely to miss is the vaulted EPA Light Truck status, putting it at a significant disadvantage.

  • avatar

    Personally I like wagons, but it seems to me that the car-based, affordable, smaller SUVs, esp w awd, have pretty much changed the market so much that it’s harder for buyers to opt for the old-style station wagon.

    Two things about this design:
    – Any design feature that requires compromising function significantly (say, seeing out of the vehicle or sitting in the back seat) makes me scratch my head.

    – And I think the dirty little secret about current design fads for swoops, sculpture and anime is this:  In trying to be distinctive, it makes all brands look alike.  So I’m hoping it won’t last much longer.

  • avatar

    Auto Express did a First Drive of a preproduction i40W and it looks promising.

  • avatar

    If it drops over here, it’ll have one gas engine choice with a slushbox A/T, and USDOT regs will mandate uglification or removal of any distinct or attractive body lines. In short, “bringing it stateside” amounts to targeting what makes a particular vehicle most appealing, and removing it. Of course, I’m speaking rhetorically, because everyone on TTAC already knows this.
    Anyways, looking forward to the i40 badge on a bloated Santa Fe for 2016.

  • avatar

    Coming from someone who rather dislikes the Sonata’s looks this seems attractive enough. The actual pictures of the car (Auto Express and Großglockner) seem to be more MPVesque than these renderings, though.

  • avatar

    I’m sure Hyundai and others will keep an eye on TSX Wagon sales; if it does better than expected, then who knows?

  • avatar
    Rusted Source

    Me want, wagon good.

  • avatar

    Saw the i40 test cars (both SW and Sedan) at the Namyang R&D facilities a few days ago. really interesting. despite the heavy camo, even behind closed gates, the car looks to have quite a fair hint of the Sonata but closer to the larger Azera/Grandeur in terms of design substance.
    Hyundai/Kia have a storm of new cars running around in camouflage over there, even some really interesting competition metal… can’t say much, but I’ll say this, a lot of exciting things are coming from Hyundai in the coming years…

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