After revealing the upcoming Verna/Accent model in Beijing last week, Hyundai followed up by taking the wraps off of its next-gen Avante, which is sold elsewhere in the world as the Elantra. This first look came at the 2010 Busan International Motor Show in Korea. Despite an accompanying release that was a bit fact-light -- even regarding specs on the domestic variant -- it's obvious the new Avante/Elantra is fully prepared to further accelerate Hyundai's well-focused image-raising campaign.

Forward-looking flair

Like other new Hyundai offerings, the exterior styling of the nascent Avante/Elantra fully embraces the automaker's "fluidic sculpture" design cues. Its far more dramatically rendered contours and well-measured proportions are set off by an aggressive front fascia, prominent lighting elements and sweeping character lines. Although the vehicles on display in Busan lacked finished interiors, spy shots have confirmed that the production design fully supports the intended transition to a more upscale look and feel, borrowing key cues form the 2011 Sonata.

Hyundai's U.S. reps were not prepared to reveal any specifics on the Elantra, including potential powertrain combinations we'll see here. However, the Korean-spec version of this front-drive compact sedan will be fitted with a 1.6-liter version of the firm's new gasoline direct-injected "Gamma" inline-four. Interestingly, the 1.6 Gamma GDI makes 138 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque, specs that nearly mirror those of the 2.2-liter four found in our current Elantra. The 2011 Avante also benefits from a new, optional six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai claims that matchup plus several other mileage-enhancing tweaks give the car nearly a 10-percent edge in fuel economy over its competitors.

"The new Avante encompasses Hyundai's latest ambitions, featuring the best styling and performance in its class," Steve S. Yang, president & CEO of Hyundai's Global Business Division, remarked at the reveal. "We're confident that it will once again redefine the compact segment worldwide." Domestic sales of the Avente are set to start in the last half of 2010. As for its U.S. Elantra cousin, we're told it could well debut in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show and reach dealers next spring as either a 2011 or 2012 model.

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