Hyundai HB20: Fluidic Design and Posh Base Models

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos

Here in Brazil, Toyota had to bow to pre-market pressure and lower the price for their Etios. Hyundai goes the other way and is betting that they will be able to command higher prices. In their first try to get at the juicy meat of the Brazilian market, Hyundai has launched their exclusive-to-Brazil small car, the HB20.

Starting from R$32,000 (US$16,000) and reaching an astronomical R$48,000 (US$24,000), Hyundai is claiming the car has two main differentials. According to Hyundai’s dedicated HB20 site the car acts as

“a model built in Brazil for Brazilians. It has Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design and unrivaled standard content; the New HB20 is striking, modern and sporting.”

Hyundai indulges the buyer: even the lowliest trim will be “complete” by Brazilian standards. In other words, even the base car comes with air conditioning, assisted steering, double frontal airbags and trip computer (according to the folks over at Brazilian enthusiast site

The Hyundai will be the first locally produced Brazilian car to sport an interesting three-cylinder, 1.0L, 12v with 80hp and can run on the local concoction known as gasoline and ethanol. As the engine is the same as the one in the imported Kia Picanto, I warn Brazilian shoppers that although it’s probably one of the best 3-cylinder motors out there, you will be reminded of its presence by the lawn-mower-like noises it emits

From R$37,000 (US$18,500), Hyundai will offer a 1.6L 16v engine good for 128hp. It is the same engine as the one present in the Veloster sold in Brazil, but it has also been adapted to run on ethanol. With this trim level, you get the same content as in the 1.0 car, but ABS is standard.

Join the conversation
6 of 7 comments
  • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Sep 24, 2012

    Buenos días! According to my limited experience, and also to what I've read on both Picanto and HB20, the engine is very quiet, but at times you do here it. When you do, you're often surprised cause it makes unexpected noises, different from a regular I4. However, nothing to worry about really, unless you're a very´picky fellow. The advantage is that, at least on the Picanto, which is smaller than the HB20, it's very economic.

    • See 1 previous
    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Sep 24, 2012

      @palandi The HB20 is ok by me, not great but ok. Me thinks the headlights are just too big. I also see a lot of Gol in there. As Hyundai was targetting the Gol squarely from day 1 of the HB20 project, that's probably intentional. Agreed on Etios grotesqueness. It will only sell if Brazilians are very, very conservative, but something tells me it'll have a run like the first Brazilian gen Coroll. Good car but didn't sell cause of design. It'll be a good test of the Toyota brand. I think the front runner in this segment, as a sedan is Cobalt and Grand Siena. The hatch has to face Fox, Gol, Palio, top Unos, Sandero, Punto among others. Can't see either making a splash. Now, the Hyundai, I think it could break into top 10 sooner rather than later.

  • Jconli1 Jconli1 on Sep 24, 2012

    looks more like the current Rio than the Accent - which is a good thing.

  • Acuraandy Acuraandy on Sep 24, 2012

    @jconli1: Agreed. I've had a US-spec Korean built Accent hatch for about the past 6 months, and the only exterior design gripe I have is the tail lights. They look like an aborted Honda Civic wagon's. The rest of the car, for what it is, above-par fit and finish, power, and fuel economy. Pretty happy with it. Just one question: why couldn't they put the 'ass' from the Brazilian HB20 on the USDM Accent? This looks like a more refined Accent to me, brilliant execution by Hyundai on this one. Whoever designed this ride should get a raise. Very nice looking.

  • Redav Redav on Sep 25, 2012

    When I was in Brazil, I saw a ton of Hyundais. What size is this car? It looks like a B-segment. If so, it guess it would be about twice as expensive as what you'd expect here in the US (~US$12k). That would match what my coworkers told me about car prices there. (We saw a Ford Edge, and I was also told that it probably cost more than his house.)