Hyundai confirms right-hand drive for Genesis sedan

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Hyundai's four-cylinder and V6 Genesis Coupe models will be starters for its Australian line-up within the next two years, but the future of the premium Genesis sedan Down Under remains heavily in doubt.

That's despite the latest news out of America that Hyundai will build the next generation of Genesis sedan in right-hook form, as well as left-hand drive.

In other markets the Genesis sedan rivals the Infiniti M and Lexus GS – and is priced accordingly. However, Australian buyers may not even accept the rear-drive large car as a direct competitor to the locally designed and manufactured Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon – let alone Lexus, Infiniti or products from the German prestige brands. For many Australians, and in spite of Hyundai's recent brand management efforts, the Genesis wo't make it as a prestige sedan around $70,000 when Mercedes E-Class starts just below $80,000.

Speaking to at a post-Detroit Motor Show event, Hyundai Australia PR boss, Bill Thomas, said that although both cars are high on the wish list, the pricing position of the sedan means we could miss out.

“Obviously both cars are of great interest to us because the next generation [of Genesis models] will be produced in right hand drive. [The] Coupe we will definitely take, but that's a way off yet, as far away as two years,” he explained.

“Sedan is being looked at very carefully but as yet we ca't confirm our plans or timing for the Australian market. John Krafcik [Hyundai president and CEO] said that we will see the production car this time next year [2014] at Detroit so the timing, if we decide to take the car, should align with other global timing including USA. [But I stress that] no decision has been made on this car.”

The next generation Hyundai Genesis will be heavily influenced by the Genesis HCD-14 Concept unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this week. It will be revealed in production form at next year’s North American International Auto Show, again in Detroit.

Mr Thomas drew an analogy with the low-selling Honda Legend to explain why the Genesis sedan, which would be similarly priced in Australia, would be unlikely to achieve the sales necessary to sustain a business case in the local market.

“If we do take it, which is by no means decided, we’d want to get the pricing right. It’s a very difficult business case. Our most expensive vehicle is 50 grand, and when you look at the Honda Legend, which is around 78 [thousand] we’d have to wonder if people would buy it,” he said. “It does't matter how good the car is, you’ve just got to be realistic about it [the business model].”

But the fortunes of the Genesis Coupe are looking brighter. Mr Thomas indicated that Hyundai Australia was very keen to have the sporty two-door on its portfolio as soon as possible.

“We will definitely take the coupe, and as soon as we can get it,” he stated. “The Coupe is a more logical fit. You could price it a little bit lower and there are no direct competitors for it [in Australia].”

The larger Genesis would not go toe-to-toe with the current two-door darlings from Toyota and Subaru, the 86 and BRZ. Instead, the Genesis Coupe would likely sit just above the Veloster SR Turbo (from $33,990) in terms of price, starting from less than the current crop of hot hatch rivals (circa $40,000). In that price bracket it could draw out buyers as diverse as 200SX and Supra owners.

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