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Hyundai Gives Green Light to Veloster-Based Coupe

In addition to the Genesis rear-wheel-drive coupe, Hyundai will ffer an entry-level coupe based on the Veloster concept unveiled at last spring’s Seoul auto show.

DETROIT – The Hyundai Tiburon will be exiting the U.S. market at the end of the year, but coupe fans will get two new models in its place, a Hyundai Motor America official tells Ward’s in an interview at the North American International Auto Show here.

In addition to the already announced Genesis rear-wheel-drive coupe, which goes on sale early next year in the U.S., Hyundai will offer an entry-level coupe based on the Veloster concept unveiled at last spring’s Seoul auto show. The two vehicles will bracket the segment where the Tiburon lives.

“It’s a unique combination of fun-to-drive and function,” John Krafcik, vice president-product development and strategic planning, says of the small 2-door car. “(It’s) a sporty coupe profile but (with a) door-hatchback configuration that you’ve never seen before in the industry. Maybe a 1.6L engine, so (it’s) very fuel efficient.”

The Tiburon is powered by a 2.0L 4-cyl. or 2.7L V-6 engine and starts at $16,875 for ’08.

Krafcik says the Veloster name likely will not be retained for the production model.

As for the Genesis coupe, Krafcik and other HMA officials cannot contain their glee over the buzz the car, along with its sedan variant, has created. It’s something the auto maker, long associated with affordable, “no frills” vehicles, is unfamiliar with.

“We are so pumped about that car,” Krafcik says, pointing to the Genesis and then rattling off its specifications: “Rear-wheel drive, turbocharged 4-cyl., low $20,000s (price range), 4-wheel independent suspension. It is so magic. We are so happy about it.”

The coupe, which also will be available with a 3.8L V-6 engine, will debut in production form at the New York auto show in March. A concept version was shown at last fall’s Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Assn. show in Las Vegas.

The Genesis sedan goes on sale this summer in the U.S. after launching last week in South Korea, where it replaces the Dynasty in Hyundai’s domestic lineup.

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