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Car reviews - Hyundai - Grandeur - sedan range

Our Opinion

We like
The fact it's Australia's only large diesel sedan, diesel smoothness, refinement and economy, spacious cabin, lots of equipment, long warranty, super-easy to drive
Room for improvement
Feel-free steering, tippee-toed feel of suspension, diesel lag when instant acceleration is needed

28 Oct 2008

THE biggest surprise when we first saw the revised 2009 Grandeur was not how minor the facelift is (basically new trim inside and out), but the way this three-year-old has aged – it looks pretty good painted black with the big shiny alloys.

It’s not just us either. Back when this car was unveiled at the 2005 Korean motor show, we spotted BMW design chief Chris Bangle pawing over the Grandeur’s rather unique rear haunches asked what he thought, the American praised Hyundai’s stylists for achieving such difficult angles and radii.

There you go, brand snobs... BMW... Bangle... praise... not bad at all.

You know what? The new 2.2-litre CRDi four-cylinder turbo-diesel also lifts the hoity-toity Hyundai.

Seen before in the portly Santa Fe SUV, this ultra-modern high-tech engine has no problem hauling the Big G around.

Take-off acceleration is more than adequate, particularly for a relatively small four-cylinder engine pushing the pedal in the midrange rev sector elicits ample thrust forward, and burning down the highway at near or over the national speed limits is no sweat for the serene Grandeur.

That’s because it is a remarkably smooth powerplant, toiling away from just above idle speeds in a very un-diesel-like manner. And the harder you rev it, the coarser it ain’t either. The CRDi is one of those new-fangled diesels to convert sceptics.

But... you can feel one coming on. Our only reservation – and it’s an important one – is that the CRDi’s lack of capacity seems to be exacerbated by turbo lag when you need super-instant acceleration.

On two occasions we were left for what felt like an eternity on the wrong side of oncoming traffic during a freeway-overtaking manoeuvre, as the diesel took its time to gather all the horses. Once the boost kicked in, the Grandeur bolted forward, but the delays experienced were unacceptable. Be wary.

You could argue that a Grandeur buyer won’t care about turbo-lag, but we bet that many will be used as long-distance journey vehicles, in which instantaneous overtaking activity occurs a lot.

We are not so keen on the overly lightweight, feel-free power steering system, or the springy, slightly off-balance sensation the driver experiences when cornering at speed. Again, not a usual Grandeur activity we know, but there is a nervousness and an inability to keep the Hyundai steady on a chosen line which undermines this car.

At least the interior – now presented in a darker trim for less ostentatious folk – remains a pleasant, well-featured place, with ample space, sufficient comfort and utter simplicity to all the controls.

Unfortunately there was no V6 petrol Grandeur to compare the CRDi model with, but we came away impressed with the diesel’s quietness and overall driveability.

Now all Hyundai needs to do is steal one of Ford’s Australian or European chassis engineers to sort the steering and suspension feel. Maybe a different turbo (or two) might reduce the lag as well.

Until then, make the most of the fact the Grandeur looks pretty neat and drive slowly so more people can appreciate its lines, just like Mr Bangle once did.

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