Vroooom! Foreign sports cars revving up

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Vroooom! Foreign sports cars revving up

On Sept. 11, about 150 reporters gathered at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul to watch the launching of a new sports car, the Koenigsegg CC.

The car is manufactured by the Swedish automaker Koenigsegg and has a hefty, 8-cylinder, 4,700 cubic-centimeter engine. This is the sports car's first appearance in Asia. Its maximum speed is 390 kilometers per hour, and maximum horsepower is 6,800 rpm. Reportedly it takes the Koenigsegg 3.5 seconds to reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.

The unique feature of this car are the doors, which are in the shape of gull wings. Manufacturing is done by hand and only 15 of the cars are produced annually. "Among the 15, our aim is to sell two in Korea," says Christian Bonn, the president of Koenigsegg.

Imported sports cars are emerging in the Korean market. Sports cars have usually been associated with wealthy, fast-living young people, but as the five-day workweek becomes reality, more imported cars are being targeted to a growing leisure market.

That recent surge in demand for leisure cars comes with the lessening of a negative perception toward imported cars. The rise in the cars in Korea also comes from more professionals in their late 20s and early 30s having more purchasing power than ever before.

The day before the Koenigsegg's debut in Korea, Toyota presented to Korea the Lexus SC430. The model is called the "jewel of Lexus." The car has a 4,300 cubic-centimeter engine, can reportedly reach a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour and has 285 horsepower. The SC430 takes 6.4 seconds to reach 100 kilometers per hour.

The price of the SC430? A whopping 107 million won ($85,000). Yasno Hideyaki, president of Toyota Korea, says, "I am sure we can sell up to 10 a month."

France's Peugeot will re-enter the Korean market after a five-year hiatus, and will present a small sports car that has a 1,600-cc engine with 110 horsepower and takes 8.2 seconds to reach 100 kilometers per hour. The biggest plus for this car is its price, a relatively cheap 29.7 million won. "Relatively" being the key word here.

Even without exhibition halls or advertisements, sports cars have gained much attention from younger Koreans. The president of Hanbul Motors, which imports Peugeot, says, "It's quite a thing to be able to buy a sports car for 20 million-plus won."

Audi will show Korea an automatic transmission model of its TT Coupe in late December. For those who are comfortable with automatics, this one features a 1,800 cubic-centimeter engine and a 51 million won price tag.

There are rumors that notable sports car makers such as Ferrari and Maserati will also launch cars in Korea.

These companies have seen the growing popularity of sports cars in Korea and want to get a piece of the action.

The only domestic carmaker at the show is Hyundai, with its Tuscany sports car. So far this year, Hyundai has sold 6,630 Tuscanys, which cost from 12 million won to 23 million won.

by Kim Sang-woo

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