Saturday, November 28, 2009

An In-Depth Look at New Car Releases for 2009/2010

The outlook of the Korean auto industry is certainly bright as it prepares to be bombarded with a wave of new car launches in the coming months. It is indicative that while American automakers are facing the nadir of their times, the devastating slump has not affected the ambitious Korean companies that are enjoying sales successes both in their home market and abroad. Continue reading for theEXCLUSIVE in-depth look at new car releases in Korea for 2009 and 2010. To kick off the summer car bonanza in Korea, Kia is readying the domestic launch of the automaker's first 2-door coupe, Forte Koup. To be unveiled next week on the 11th, the Forte Koup will feature the same 1.6L and 2.0L powertrains as its four-door sibling and will be priced nearly on par with it. Intriguingly, the "koup" will have equivalent insurance premiums to its sedan counterpart. The Forte Koup will go on sale next month. Renault Samsung is preparing for the launch of its redesigned SM3 compact sedan. The current model, based on the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy, will be replaced by a larger model based on the new Renault Megane. Despite the significant increase in size, the New SM3 will receive major fuel economy improvements that will put the car at the top of its class. The SM3 will be available with either a 1.6L or 2.0L engine, mated to a CVT (continuously variable) transmission. Production has already begun last month, so look for the New SM3 to reach showrooms next month. Hyundai will roll out updated versions of the i30 hatchback and Avante (Elantra) sedan for the 2010 model year. The i30 will receive minor equipment upgrades such as redesigned wheels, but the main highlight is the addition of a more powerful 2.0L Theta II 4-cylinder engine alike the 2010 Kia Forte. The Avante is slated to undergo its first facelift for the 2010 model year. Revisions and upgrades include a new front and rear fascia, black-bezel headlamps, intelligent DMB navigation, push-start button, and a blue Supervision dashboard cluster. The 2010 i30 will go on sale in July, while the revised Avante is slated for a late August release. Hyundai will unveil the production model of the long-anticipated Avante (Elantra) LPI Hybrid on July 15th. The prototype already made its formal debut at the past Seoul International Motor Show. The automaker's first production hybrid car will run on LPG (liquified petroleum gas) and achieve an estimated fuel economy of 17.2km/L. Hyundai emphasizes affordability for the new hybrid technology, and will price the Avante LPI Hybrid around 20 million Won. Hyundai originally planned to begin sales of the hybrid this September, but has pulled the release date earlier to July 22nd. Hyundai will continue its series of new debuts with the unveiling of the all-new Tucson (LM) this August. The compact crossover will bear the styling of the ix-onic Concept revealed earlier this year, a much needed departure from the aging design of the current model. In an effort to further distinguish the Tucson and the larger Santa Fe, the redesigned Tucson will only be available with four-cylinder engines. The state-of-the-art 2.2L R diesel engine, co-developed between Hyundai and Kia, will also make its way into the Tucson. This coming September will be hotly anticipated as Hyundai will formally unveil the sleeker, redesigned Sonata (YF). The new Sonata features a more rakish, 4-door coupe design, and will pack a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. The new Sonata will reach American shores in February 2010. In the same month, GM Daewoo will release the local market version of the Chevrolet Spark, badged as the Matiz (M300). The prototype was already unveiled at the last Seoul International Motor Show and changes are only going to be a few. The new Matiz will be a radical departure from the current model, which is essentially a reskined version of the original model that debuted in 1998. Kia Motors will officially unveil its new premium sport sedan, code-named "VG", in late November this year. The "VG" made its concept debut as the KND-5 Concept at the last Seoul International Motor Show. Penned by Kia's design guru Peter Schreyer, the "VG" will slot below the Opirus/Amanti and be available in three powertrain options (est. 2.4L, 2.7L, and 3.5L V6). The "VG" will also be sold in North American markets early next year. Kia Motors also plans to take the wraps off its "YN" compact MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) this coming December. Launched in concept guise as the No3 Concept at the last Geneva Motor Show, the MPV received garnered spectacular press and public praise for its stunning design and slick practicality. Unfortunately, Kia will market the "YN" exclusively within the European market.


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