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 |  Mar 02 2010, 1:23 PM

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Hyundai unveiled its i-Flow concept vehicle, calling it a preview for a future D-Segment contender. According to Hyundai, we may see the i-Flow’s styling and technology in a 2011 production model. Would it be too much to expect it in the 2011 Euro-spec Sonata?

The seventh of a series of concepts from the Russelsheim design studio, the i-Flow extends upon Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” philosophy. The outside offers a futuristic look while inside, the i-Flow has an alien, Hyundai calls it “bionic”, feel.

Under the futuristic shell, the i-Flow is Hyundai’s first diesel hybrid powertrain. At the i-Flow’s heart is the U2 1.7L two-stage turbo engine combined with a lithium-ion powered motor. No horsepower or torque figures were provided, but Hyundai says the i-Flow gets 78.4 mpg.

Like the Blue Will concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the i-Flow recycles exhaust heat, capturing the energy and using it to power auxiliary systems.

The i-Flow also uses a thermal engine encapsulation technology which helps the engine reach optimum operating temperature quicker by retaining heat when the engine is idle. According to Hyundai, the i-Flow’s engine will stay above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 14 hours, much longer than a non-insulated engine’s time of three hours. Hyundai estimates this will cut 5% of emissions in the summer and up to 9% in the winter.

Gallery: Hyundai i-Flow concept

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