Why Hyundai should let U.S. take redesigned wagon for a spin
|Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.|
Lost opportunity or smart decision?
Hyundai's i30 wagon is sold around the globe. Here's it's called the Elantra Touring.
This is a rare car in an industry that has gone crossover crazy. The solid, low-priced, very functional compact wagon has received a long list of accolades from journalists worldwide.
So the next model should be even better, right?
Well, drivers here won't know.
Next week the redesigned i30 will debut, a stunning wagon adopting Hyundai's fluidic sculpture design. The car's world debut is slated at the Geneva auto show.
Surprisingly, the wagon isn't headed to U.S. showrooms. Hyundai believes a five-door hatchback has more appeal.
"We liked it better," said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America CEO. "We thought it fit our image better -- sport plus function. In many ways the Elantra GT is like a Veloster [with its] youthful appeal."
Additionally, Krafcik said, the Elantra GT's suspension is tuned for driving, "very much in the European vein." The electric power steering has three driving modes -- comfort, normal and sport -- that can be changed to varying road conditions at any time.
"I think that approach better suits the five-door hatch as opposed to the larger wagon," he said during an interview this month at the Chicago Auto Show.
I respectfully disagree.
I think a beautifully styled, nice-handling wagon priced under $20,000 with the same engineering attributes mentioned above would draw more buyers than the GT hatchback. Simply, the GT lacks the head-turning styling that we've become accustomed to expecting from Hyundai.
I'd put my money on the next-gen i30 wagon.