The launch of eight new vehicles – including a Transit-sized van and minibus – will transform Hyundai’s UK vehicle line-up within 18 months. The product onslaught starts on 1 September with the European-focused i30 small family hatchback.

By 2012, after more new product – including a mini-MPV and possibly a coupe/cabriolet and more new smaller LCVs too – Hyundai UK aims to double its sales to 70,000 by 2012.

Names like Amica, Getz, Accent and Sonata will all be replaced in the UK by a ‘letter and number’ strategy that the South Korean brand hopes will denote a new kind of Hyundai that is highly specified and well finished but still at a lower price than mainstream rivals.

Squarely pitched on size, spec and quality terms at the mainstream key C-segment Ford Focus market in a way the old, smaller Accent never managed, the i30 makes a strong start. It offers some neat upmarket BMW 1-series concave details especially at the rear, a genuinely European and Japanese quality-matching interior and a class-leading standard kit list that includes ESP, iPod connection, alloy wheels, aircon and CD player, plus the firm’s five-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Prices will start from GBP10,995 to GBP16,595 with only the sister model Kia Cee’d offering a cheaper entry point – but Hyundai offers more standard kit. There will be three trims – Comfort, Style and Premium – and top engine sellers are predicted to be the 115PS 1.6 diesel and 109PS 1.4 petrol.

11,000 sales are expected in its first full year and UK managing director Tony Whitehorn believes the majority will be conquest sales citing customers currently buying French and Japanese marques as targets.

The i30 will be followed in early 2008 by an estate version (called the i30 CW for ‘cross-wagon’) and the Amica-replacing i10 city car.

New medium wheelbase panel van and minibus products mark the return of the brand to LCVs in the UK six years after the withdrawal of the H100 panel van. Codenamed TQ and shown originally at the April 2007 Seoul motor show, they go on sale in Korea in October before the 2008 UK launch – first in January with a punchy 170PS 2.5 diesel, followed by a more mainstream 110PS unit in August.

Hyundai hopes for 5,000 UK sales per annum by 2010. An i40 based on a “dramatically-facelifted” Sonata – especially on the inside – will take on the likes of the Peugeot 407 and Ford Mondeo in summer 2008 before a Getz-replacing i20 supermini arrives in autumn of the same year.

Customers wanting to see the next stage of Hyundai’s design revolution will have to wait for the all-new Freelander-sized Tucson due in 2010 though. It could also potentially get the new name treatment – the ‘ix40’ has been mentioned – and insiders say it will be heavily based on the front-end styling of the radical Qarmaq concept shown in Geneva this year.

This extremely busy schedule of launch activity also lends more substance to Hyundai’s well-publicised ambitions to become a top five global vehicle maker by 2010-2012.

Guy Bird