First Look: 2012 Hyundai i30

Hyundai i30/Elantra Touring

We knew Hyundai was bringing the new i30 hatchback to the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, but until now, we hadn't seen photos of the completed thing. Now that we have, we're left wondering if we'll soon see this car arrive in the U.S. market, albeit with Elantra Touring badges.

Hyundai's official press release talks up the influence of the company's fluidic design language, but apart from a new grille insert and some slightly different headlamps, the new i30 closely resembles a 2011 Elantra from the B-pillars forward. We've yet to see any rear photos of the car, but it appears the new i30 wears a shorter, stubbier tail and a more angular roofline than its predecessor.

We're happy to report Hyundai's design renaissance permeates that shapely skin, providing the i30 with a cabin that looks far more upscale than its price tag suggests. While the general shape and arrangement of the i30's dashboard mimics that of the Elantra, the center stack seems to be an all-new -- and perhaps slightly more conservative -- design. As is the case with the U.S. market Elantra, premium amenities -- including both leather seating surfaces and a navigation system -- appear to be available on the i30.

Thus far, the automaker isn't releasing any mechanical specifications, but expect the typical glut of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel four-cylinder engines to be offered in Europe. We wouldn't be too surprised if Hyundai's 1.6-liter I-4 and 1.7-liter turbo-diesel I-4 -- currently offered in the European i40 wagon -- work their way into the i30 range.

The i30 will formally debut next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but will it come to America? Hyundai isn't saying one way or another, but there's some indication this could very well become the next Elantra Touring. We've heard officials mull a next-gen ET for our market in the past, and a spokesperson recently told us we wouldn't be surprised if we saw "something" next year.

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