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Hyundai Azera Headed Upscale; New Model to Launch for 2012

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Several design sketches of the next-generation Hyundai Azera (sold as the Grandeur in Korea) surfaced last week raising speculation about whether the car would in fact live on in the U.S. Never a hot seller, sales have dipped further at the end of the cars production cycle – especially with it representing more of the old Hyundai. And with the Genesis sedan on the market, sporting many of the same dimensions, the Azera now seems obsolete.

Not so, says Hyundai Motor America boss John Krafcik who recently confirmed plans to bring the next-gen model of the Azera to the U.S. Krafcik said more than that, however, commenting on how the car will be moved more up-market. This won't take away from Genesis sales he believes because the car will be focused more on comfortable luxury than on RWD performance. Also, the front-drive layout in this size category is still important in the snow-belt.

From the sketches its obvious that the Azera will continue Hyundai's fluidic design language, following after the Sonata and Elantra. No information on powertrains was given and the jury is still out. While the new 2.0T 4-cylinder from the Sonata Turbo is an option in terms of power, it might be a bit too rough for the Azera's luxury image. That being said, we're likely to see a lineup of V6 engines.

"We have changed everything, it's a remarkable car," said Krafic in a recent interview with Automotive News. No launch date was given, but with a projected 2012 model year he would say its, "not that far away."

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