2013 Model Year: Hyundai Avante vs. Kia K3 vs. Samsung SM3
It has now been 12 years that Hyundai has been able to hold on to the top-seller position in the small family car segment, all thanks to their flagship compact Avante compact sedan.
That’s a major victory on the home front for Hyundai, with the 81,256 units that the Avante has moved this year accounting for over 60% of domestic compact car sales.
Hyundai has its work cut out if it wants to hold onto that top spot, as many automakers are set to introduce new models that they believe will challenge the Avante.
Industry insiders feel that it’s Kia that poses the biggest challenge, with their new K3 4-door sedan about to hit the market. There are already more than 10,000 customers signed on to purchase the latest addition to the K series.
What’s impressive about that number is that Kia hit that mark a mere 17 days after it was officially launched on Sept.17. That’s good news for Kia who is believed to have poured $270 million into the K3 project.
The all-new Kia K3 (known also as 2014 Kia Forte) delivers more of a sports coupe feel than the Avante, thanks to the design of Peter Schreyer. The K3 also comes with an impressive list of features, most of which are usually found on higher segment models.
Those features include parking assistance system, cruise control, a sliding headrest and the telematics service UVO.
The Hyundai/Kia sibling rivalry is expected to spill over into China where the K3 will hit the market later in October.
Kia K3 (China-market model)
Also expected to challenge the Avante is the Renault Samsung SM3. The new model sold 1,055 units in September, which was less than both Kia and Hyundai, but that contribution helped drive up car sales in the segment by 4.7% over the previous month.
An RSM spokesman said that he believed many potential SM3 customers held off of buying until the K3 was released. He feels that the real challenge will start in October.
Despite being nothing more than a facelift version, the SM3 holds the distinction of becoming the first vehicle to adopt Nissan Motor’s new enhanced engine H4Mk and an Xtronic continuously variable transmission.
It comes with a digitalized dashboard and electronic parking brake, both of which are major upgrades in the compact segment. The car is also sure to be a hit with the younger crowd thanks to the addition of a Bose stereo system.
All three vehicles deliver similar engine and fuel economy performance. The new Hyundai Avante and Kia K3 come equipped with 140 horsepower and 17 kilogram-meters of torque, while the New SM3 features 117 horsepower and 16.1 kilogram-meters of torque.
The SM3 may appear weaker, but it does come out on top in fuel efficiency. It delivers 17 kilometers per liter, compared to Avante’s 16.5 kilometers and K3’s 16.7 kilometers. The vehicles run anywhere from 14-22 million won, depending on specs.
Renault Samsung SM3
Industry insiders feel that the compact car segment is set to become very competitive in the next few years. They cite a combination of the new vehicles and drivers turning to smaller vehicles due to their newfound awareness of fuel economy.
Kim Pil-soo, professor at Daelim University College said that the addition of higher end features on the new compacts means that people no longer feel the need to buy larger cars to show off their social status.
He went on to say that he doesn’t believe that the K3 or SM3 will seriously challenge the domination of the Avante in the short term.
Kim went on to say that he believed that the compact car market will only accelerate further if a real challenger were to look as though they might topple the Hyundai Avante. He feels as though the small cars made by BMW and Nissan might be able to compete in the local compact market.
For their part, BMW will be releasing the 5-door hatchback 1 Series this week, with the price expected to be around 30 million won. That is the lowest priced BMW out there, not counting their Mini vehicles.