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New Avante gears up for local market

Hyundai Motor Co.s much-publicized new Avante goes on sale on the domestic market on Monday.

Unveiled for the first time at the Busan International Motor Show in April, the latest Avante is considered by many in the industry to be the key to solving Hyundais falling domestic market share.

The new version stands head and shoulders above the current Avante, often known as the Avante HD, in pretty much every aspect.

Both the gasoline direct injection engine and the six-speed automatic transmission fitted in the new Avante are new to the compact segment.

With its 1.6-liter GDI engine putting out 140 brake horsepower, the revamped Avante has 16 brake horsepower over its predecessor.

The new car is also a step ahead of the previous model in terms of fuel economy. The new Avante manages 16.5 kilometers per liter with automatic transmission and 17 kilometers with manual transmission. In comparison, the soon-to-be discontinued current Avante manages 15.2 kilometers per liter with automatic, and 15.8 kilometers per liter with manual transmission.

The new Avante comes with a vehicle dynamic control and vehicle stability management system, which control the vehicles braking and steering when a sudden lane change or slippery surface causes the vehicle to lose stability.

The car will also be fitted with a tire pressure monitoring and emergency stop signal system, and an active headrest will come as standard.

The vehicle will also be the first in the compact segment to come with side and curtain airbags as standard across the lineup.

Pricing is the only department where the new Avante is less attractive than the HD.

The new Avante starts are 13.4 million won ($11,300) and goes up to 18.9 million won. In comparison, the Avante HD ranges from 13.09 million won to 18.04 million won.

The starting price for both models are for those fitted with manual transmission, and automatic transmission for the new Avante costs 1.5 million won extra, while the four-speed automatic transmission for the HD costs an extra 1.39 million.

A model that has just undergone a full-on upgrade outperforming its predecessor is no surprise. But how does the car compare with the local competition?

Compared to the Avantes engine, the 1.6-liter gasoline engine used in Kia Motors Corp.s Forte falls 16 brake horsepower short, while the same sized engine used in GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Co.s Lacetti Premiere falls short by 26 bhp.

The gap widens further when compared to the Renault Samsung SM3s engine, which puts out 112 brake horsepower.

In terms of fuel economy, all three contenders fall short of the Avante.

The 1.6-liter gasoline powered Forte manages 15.2 kilometers with automatic and 16.1 kilometers per liter with manual transmission.

The Lacetti Premiere comes in at 15 and 13 kilometers per liter, respectively with manual and automatic transmission.

The SM3 manages 16.3 and 15 kilometers per liter, respectively with manual and continuously variable transmission.

However, the Avante is the only of the four that does not offer a choice of engines.

In addition to a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, a 2-liter gasoline and a 1.6-liter diesel engine is available for the Kia Forte.

GM Daewoo offers 1.8-liter gasoline and 2-liter diesel engines in addition to the standard 1.6-liter gas engine with the Lacetti Premiere.

Although Renault Samsungs SM3 lineup currently consists entirely of 1.6-liter vehicles, a 2-liter engine will be added later in the year.

According to a Hyundai official, decisions concerning additional engines for the new Avante have not yet been made. However, precedent does not bode well for those hoping for larger engine capacity or choice of fuel for the Avante.

Although the current Avante had at one time been available with a 2-liter gasoline or a diesel engine, both were discontinued due to lack of demand.

In terms of price, the new Avante will not have much of an advantage. At 18.9 million won, the highest priced Avante is cheaper than similarly priced competitors with the exception of the SM3, which matches the figure exactly.

The highest priced Forte costs 19.9 million won, while the most expensive Lacetti Premiere is 21.1 million won.

However, the highest priced Forte has a diesel engine, which runs on cheaper fuel, while the most expensive Lacetti Premiere comes with a 2-liter diesel engine, which not only runs on cheaper fuel but also offers larger power output – 150 brake horsepower.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldm.com)



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