Car reviews - Hyundai - Grandeur - sedan range
7 Feb 2006
By CHRIS HARRIS
HYUNDAI says that the time has finally come for it to venture back into luxury land with an all-new Grandeur.
The nameplate returns to Australia this week, after the previous XG model was discontinued two and a half years ago following slow sales and negative press surrounding inadequate suspension tuning.
It was one of the first casualties of the new factory owned Hyundai Motor Company of Australia (HMCA), after it took over from the Singaporean-based Hyundai Automotive Distributors in 2003.
At the time HMCA was in no shape to offer a vehicle in the luxury segment.
"We kept it away deliberately until Hyundai’s sales were at a higher ebb," says the director of sales and marketing, Theo Van Doore.
After Hyundai’s halcyon days of the X3 Excel of the late ‘90s pushing sales to a record 59,000, they dropped to around 30,000 in 2003.
A company spokesman told GoAuto that Hyundai’s head office at the time failed to recognise the differing needs of drivers worldwide, so would not develop differing suspension tune for the old Grandeur.
Since then HMCA has become much more confident in its product, pointing to JD Power customer-satisfaction survey success with the Sonata in America.
It has also focussed by sharpening the Getz light car’s appeal and launching into key new segments with models such as the Tucson SUV.
Around 50 per cent growth since 2003 – with 48,010 vehicles sold last year – has been the result. In 2006 Hyundai is aiming for 56,000.
"The Grandeur is further indication of the maturity of the Hyundai brand… and its focus on absolute quality," says newly appointed CEO of HMCA, Steve Yeo.
The new model has also benefited form some minor suspension tuning specifically formulated at the behest of HMCA to make it more suitable to our conditions.
Revised springs and dampers are the upshot, and were achieved after using the Grandeur’s European suspension tune as a base.
Hyundai will offer two models: the V6 and the better-equipped Limited.
Both are powered by a 3.8-litre version of the new Lambda 3.3-litre V6 that debuted in the NF Sonata last June.
Equipped with continuous variable-valve timing, it delivers 194kW of power at 6000rpm and 348Nm of torque at 4500rpm to the front wheels.
A five-speed sequential-shift automatic helps the Holden Commodore-sized Grandeur to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds. Its combined fuel consumption average is 10.8 litres per 100km.
Suspension is by independent double wishbones and coils up front and a rear multi-link arrangement, complete with anti-roll bars.
Standard equipment will include climate control air-conditioning, keyless entry, Infinity high-end CD/MP3 audio, leather upholstery and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Electronic stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, active front head restraints and eight airbags make up the Grandeur’s standard safety kit.
Hyundai says the Grandeur garnered a five-star equivalent crash-test rating in the United States from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A 24-hour roadside assistance program is also included as part of the car’s five-year/130,000km warranty.
The Limited also includes a sunroof, reactive solar glass, an electric sunshade, heated front seats, a powered steering column, Xenon headlights and a driver’s seat memory.
Speaking of which, memories of the last Grandeur have all but vanished, says a Hyundai spokesman, so it is confident of finding 1000 buyers annually – with 80 per cent opting for the Limited.
Hyundai says that ‘Old Luxury’ buyers, who are into ‘traditional’ brands, won’t bite.
So it aiming for ‘New Luxury’ consumers – creative, inconspicuous and self-confident buyers – who might also consider brands such as iPod, Diesel apparel, Starbucks and Nokia.
Nissan’s Maxima, along with the Mitsubishi 380, Honda Accord V6 Luxury and Chrysler 300C are the Hyundai flagship’s greatest foes.
Production commenced last June at the company’s Asan plant near Seoul, alongside the latest NF Sonata that it is based on.
"(With the new Grandeur) Hyundai wants to invest into the larger car market," says Mr Van Doore.
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