Thursday, August 28, 2014
Just the Facts:
•Hyundai is considering the development of a premium crossover or SUV that likely would target the Audi Q5, Lexus RX 350, Cadillac SRX and other luxury models in that segment.
•The vehicle might share a front-drive platform with the seven-passenger Hyundai Santa Fe.
•The challenge is to make the premium model stand out from other Hyundai crossovers and SUVs, Hyundai's North American boss told Edmunds.
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Hyundai is considering development of a premium crossover SUV that likely would target the Audi Q5, Lexus RX 350, Cadillac SRX and other luxury models in that segment.
But the lack of a premium distribution channel with separate showrooms is making the business case to develop and market the vehicle a challenge.
"We definitely studied a premium people mover, if you will," Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski said in a recent interview. "It is not in the plan and it is not eliminated. It is something under consideration."
He added: "One of our problems is we made a conscious decision on our premium products not to establish a secondary distribution channel. And that decision, and we absolutely think it is the right decision, has some flow-through impact on products."
Unlike Nissan and Toyota, which created the Infiniti and Lexus brands, respectively, to market premium and luxury models, Hyundai decided that one brand and one showroom will suffice.
A dealership's floor may feature the entry-level Accent to Hyundai's Mercedes-Benz E-Class competitor, the Hyundai Equus.
Today, a rear-drive configuration distinguishes Hyundai's premium models from its mass-market lineup, which is composed of front-drive vehicles. The rear-drive models are the Equus sedan and the Genesis sedan and coupe. But Zuchowski suggested a premium crossover SUV might share the front-drive platform with the seven-passenger Santa Fe, creating a challenge to clearly distinguish those models in the eyes of consumers.
"For us that (premium) vehicle would be on the same lot as the Santa Fe," he said. "It might be more difficult to try to get the premium you need to justify the price when they are sitting next to each other on the lot" even if the styling is completely different.
Zuchowski said the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 350 crossover SUVs share a front-drive platform, but the automaker has no problem selling the more expensive Lexus.
"The RX is basically the Highlander and they can charge a premium for that vehicle because they are sold in different showrooms," Zuchowski said.
Zuchowski did not suggest a sticker price if the premium crossover SUV is developed. The base seven-passenger 2014 Santa Fe stickers for $30,775 including an $875 destination charge. Prices for the 2015 model have not been announced.
While it is "not impossible" to market a premium crossover SUV alongside the more mainstream Santa Fe, Zuchowski said: "It makes it a little more challenging for us, but it is certainly something that we are looking at."
Edmunds says: Once Hyundai works out a business case, expect a premium crossover to follow
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
by Eddy Hall ·
Both SUV’s run on the same 2.2 litre turbo-diesel engine and efficient six-speed automatic, with similar drivelines and underpinnings. However, there are some areas where the Sorento differs from the Santa Fe.
First is with the design. While they might come with the same chassis, body designs have been changed to cater the variety of taste in the market.
Then, there is the extra feature that arrives with the Platinum version of the Sorento. The car has front-seat cooling, active headlights and daytime running lights. Of course, the Sorento could have been better if they were to have a downhill speed control.
Over at the Santa Fe, it has rain-sensing wipers, heated rear seats and hill descent control for the slippery off road tracks. In terms of comfort, the Sorento is certainly a pleasure to ride on.
Also, Kia offers 5-years of unlimited KM warranty for all of its Sorento. This is a plus point but it won’t be enough to stop the Hyundai Santa FE from being named the winner. After all, the latter has got better performance than its Korean counterpart.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The Equus is Hyundai's most expensive car; next down the line is the Genesis, newly revamped.
For 2014, the car got a mild facelift – they tweaked the grille and the front bumper, added LED foglights, and played with the taillights a bit. The 19-inch wheels are now thin-spoked aluminum.
The two-zone HVAC is now three zone (the two front areas and the rear.) I’ve always felt this divvying up of temperature zones was a bit of a marketing gimmick; it’s a small cabin, guys, and there isn’t much room to make distinctively different climates in there.
Buttons on the left side of the front passenger seat seatback allow for adjustments so the driver doesn't have to get out of the car, come around to the right side and do it with the adjusters the passenger would normally use.
The rear-wheel-drive Equus is Hyundai’s top of the line. It sports a 5-liter V8 engine that puts out (and this is a curious stat) 429 horses when fueled with premium and 421 horsepower when it’s drinking regular. All this is driven through an eight-speed automatic that has the requisite manumatic option that lets you saw through the gears.
The Ultimate package: lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert (it beeps when a car is crossing your stern), power sunshades in the rear, head-up display (speedometer readings show up in the windshield, imitating a fighter jet’s display), smart cruise control (it will bring the car to a dead stop, if necessary) and a 17-speaker stereo that will blow you out of your leather seats. When your car needs servicing, Hyundai will send someone to pick it up (at home or office) and leave you with a loaner.
The question is not whether this is a fine, well-appointed luxury car – you’ll make your own decision once you’ve had a look at the 2014 Hyundai Equus. The question is whether this car will ever penetrate the tight circle of luxo barges that already appear to have a lock on the market – Audi’s A8, BMW’s 7-series and the S-class Mercedes-Benz. Much of this market is driven by perception, snobbery, keeping up with the Joneses and, of course, an appreciation of fine machinery.
But the underlying theme is image, or a lack of it. What this means can be seen in the face of anyone I meet who asks what I’m driving – sometimes, they look over my shoulder to see if they can identify the big white whale behind me (the Equus). When I say, “it’s a Hyundai,” they may say, “a Honda?” or they may say, “Hyundai?” or they may just look vague. Again, it’s perception – for many people, what you drive is who you are.
So the best advice may be: get over it. If you want a big luxury car, with all the safety gizmos and the luxury appointments and the hushed cabin at 70 miles an hour, you owe it to yourself to try all of them – the German Three, plus Jaguar, Cadillac, Maserati, Lexus, Infiniti and Hyundai. This is probably a losing battle – the die is cast when it comes to high-end cars, and people will continue to follow the herd into those Audi, Benz and BMW showrooms.
Since this review is about the 2014 Hyundai Equus, sit still for a few minutes and eat your Hyundai oatmeal. It’s not gonna hurt.
What we have here is a nearly two-and-a-half ton four-door sedan that has plenty of room in front and plenty of room in back. The rear seat passengers in this Ultimate edition (there is also the less costly Signature edition) are treated almost as well as their peers in front – dual rear screens for watching the navigation do its dance or watching movies; the rear center console through which you can control almost every function of the car, save driving it; the chilled seats.
The rear-wheel-drive Equus is Hyundai’s top of the line. It sports a 5-liter V8 engine that puts out (and this is a curious stat) 429 horses when fueled with premium and 421 horsepower when it’s drinking regular. All this is driven through an eight-speed automatic that has the requisite manumatic option that lets you saw through the gears. For 2014, the car got a mild facelift – they tweaked the grille and the front bumper, added LED foglights, and played with the taillights a bit. The 19-inch wheels are now thin-spoked aluminum and the two-zone HVAC is now three zone (the two front areas and the rear.) I’ve always felt this divvying up of temperature zones was a bit of a marketing gimmick; it’s a small cabin, guys, and there isn’t much room to make distinctively different climates in there.
Being a super car means there are all the high-end electronic driving aids to help you down the turnpike. The Equus is nothing if not replete with these, most of them standard, some of them added with the Ultimate package: lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert (it beeps when a car is crossing your stern), power sunshades in the rear, head-up display (speedometer readings show up in the windshield, imitating a fighter jet’s display), smart cruise control (it will bring the car to a dead stop, if necessary) and a 17-speaker stereo that will blow you out of your leather seats. When your car needs servicing, Hyundai will send someone to pick it up (at home or office) and leave you with a loaner.
On the road, all this becomes a small symphony of svelte motoring. It’s not much different from all its competitors: the Equus is quiet, supple and, frankly, feels a bit heavy. When you compare their sizes, the three Germans are all within three inches of the Equus’s 203-inch length. When it comes to pricing, however, they are leagues apart.
The Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S550 and BMW 7-series can range from the low seventy thousands into well over $100,000 and, in some cases, $150,000. The Equus Ultimate (the fancier of the two Equus models) is $68,920. That’s it.
In the future, of course, Hyundai may well raise the price of the Equus, but for now they have to get those customers in the door and have them pull out a checkbook and start writing, rather than just walking around the car and then heading for the (name the well-known brand) dealer next door.
Luxury car sales for 2013 compiled by goodcarbadcar.net show that Mercedes sold 13,303 S-class cars; BMW retailed 10,932 of the 7-series; Audi did 6,300 of the A8; and Hyundai sold 3,578 Equuses.
Maybe it’s the name. If they found a new name for their upscale cars, as Toyota did with Lexus and Nissan with Infiniti, things might change.
For now, however, what’s nice is the fact that you can go out there and buy a car that in many respects is the equal (Equus equal?) of the German troika but you don’t have to pay those prices.
There are worse deals in the auto marketplace.
For more consumer information on cars, check these Web sites:
Safety data can be found at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Reliability information can be seen in the dependability studies conducted by J.D. Power; and at Consumer Reports.
Fuel mileage figures are available at this site, maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy.
For trivia lovers: the sticker you see on the window of every new car for sale in the United States is known in the auto industry as the “Monroney.” It is named for U.S. Senator Almer Stilwell (Mike) Monroney, the Oklahoma Democrat who sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which required all new cars to have labels that detail the price of the car and its options.
The 2014 Hyundai Equus, a luxury car from Korea. (All photos by Michael Taylor)
Author: Michael Taylor
Monday, August 25, 2014
View additional details on how to make this Veloster Turbo yours by clicking the link or photo. For other more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Gary Rome Hyundai at
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Kevin Schechterle, Service Manager provides updated information on the Sonata Recall. Remember, staying informed is important. The Gary Rome Hyundai Family is here to answer any questions you may have. Call us, we're here. www.GaryRomeHyundai.com or 888-637-4279
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Software fix will keep Santa Fe’s control screen aglow all winter
Published: August 18, 2014 12:00 PM
An old tall tale goes that it got so cold last winter, our words froze in midair, and we had to heat them in a skillet to hear what we were talking about. That’s how it felt in our Hyundai Santa Fe last winter. On really frigid mornings with single-digit temperatures, the center-dash infotainment screen wouldn’t wake up. That’s the touch screen that manages the audio, phone, navigation, and rear-camera image, but not, thankfully, the seat and steering-wheel heaters. This was unusual, inconvenient, and especially aggravating, since we’d just decided to name the Santa Fe our Top Pick among midsized SUVs. When contacted, Hyundai told us that it knew about it and that a free fix would soon be coming. Just in time for the dog days of August, we’ve learned that Hyundai has developed a software update that will keep the screen alive when the mercury takes a nosedive. It’s described in a technical service bulletin (TSB no. 14-01-031) now in dealers’ hands.
That TSB mentions that the cold-weather screen-freeze problem also afflicts some versions of the 2015 Elantra and Tucson. If you own any of those, it might be a good idea to check with your local dealership and maybe book an appointment, before you have to break out the skillet.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Our service manager, Kevin Schechterle explains the recent Hyundai Sonata Recall.
You may contact Gary Rome Hyundai at any time with questions about how the recall affects you. 888-637-4279.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Here's what the new Hyundai Elite i20 looks like against the Fiat Punto Evo, VW Polo facelift, Maruti Swift and the Nissan Micra, on paper.
Aug 11, 2014
Hyundai has launched its next-generation i20 model, called the Elite i20. The new Hyundai Elite i20 gets a longer wheelbase than the model it replaces and sports the carmaker's Fluidic Sculpture 2 theme. The new car gets the same 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines as in the outgoing one.
The new Hyundai Elite i20 enters the hotly contested premium hatchback segment which has seen a couple of recent additions like the Fiat Punto Evo and the VW Polo facelift. There's also the popular Maruti Swift and the Nissan Micra to contend with. Here's what this new car looks like against its rivals on paper.
Under the hood
The new Hyundai Elite i20 carries over the same 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines from the previous model but the 1.4-litre petrol engine has been discontinued. The petrol trims get powered by the 1197cc, four-cylinder engine which is good for 82bhp and 11.7kgm while the 1396cc, four-cylinder diesel produces 89bhp and 22.4kgm.
Just like the new Hyundai Elite i20, the Maruti Swift and the Nissan Micra too are available with only one petrol and diesel engine each.
The Maruti Swift is available with a 1197cc, four-cylinder petrol motor and a 1248cc, four-cylinder diesel engine. The petrol motor generates 86bhp and 11.62kgm while the diesel produces 74bhp and 19.37kgm.
In comparison, the Nissan Micra gets a 1198cc, three-cylinder petrol engine which makes 75bhp and 10.60kgm. There’s also a 1461cc, four-cylinder diesel motor that develops 63.12bhp and 16.31kgm.
Only the Fiat Punto Evo and the Volkswagen Polo facelift offer buyers the option of two petrol engines and a diesel engine in two states of tune.
However, the Elite i20 petrol competes directly against the Punto Evo 1.2 and the Polo 1.2-litre naturally aspirated variants. Similarly, the Elite i20 diesel squares off against the regular trims of the Punto Evo (Active, Dynamic and Emotion) and the Polo (Trendline, Comfortline and Highline).
Now, the Fiat Punto Evo petrol is available with an 1172cc, four-cylinder motor that makes 67.06bhp and 9.78kgm. The Punto Evo diesel variants are powered by a 1248cc, four-cylinder engine that generates 74.96bhp and 20.08kgm.
On the Volkswagen Polo, the regular petrol trims get a 1198cc, three-cylinder engine and for the diesels, an all-new 1498cc, four-cylinder engine. The petrol engine makes 73.97bhp and 11.21kgm while the diesel engine produces 89bhp and 23.45kgm.
Space on offer
The new Hyundai Elite i20 gets a 2570mm wheelbase which is a good 45mm more than the model it replaces. Also, the space between the Elite i20’s wheels is a substantial 60mm more than the 2510mm wheelbase of the Fuat Punto Evo. In comparison, the Volkswagen Polo gets a 2469mm wheelbase which is 101mm less than the Hyundai Elite i20. The Nissan Micra is placed next with a wheelbase of 2450mm (120mm less) while the Maruti Swift occupies last place with a wheelbase of 2430mm (140mm less).
The Hyundai Elite i20 measures 3985mm in length, 1734mm in width and 1505mm in height.
It is 14mm longer than the Polo facelift, 135mm longer than the Maruti Swift and 160mm longer than the Nissan Micra. But the Elite i20 is only 4mm shorter than the Fiat Punto Evo.
With a width of 1734mm, the Elite i20 is 52mm wider than the Polo, 39mm wider than the Swift, 47mm wider than the Punto Evo and 69mm than the Nissan Micra.
With respect to height, it is 36mm taller than the Polo. However, it is shorter than the Swift and the Micra by 25mm and 20mm shorter than the Fiat Punto Evo.
How does it stack up?
The Hyundai Elite i20 and the Maruti Swift both get similar sized 1197cc, four-cylinder petrol motors. But the i20’s motor makes 82bhp and 11.7kgm while the Swift makes 86bhp and 11.62kgm. In comparison, the Fiat Punto’s slightly smaller 1172cc, four-cylinder engine manages to produce only 67.06bhp and 9.78kgm.
Both the Nissan Micra and the Volkswagen Polo which get a similar capacity 1198cc, three-cylinder engines that generate more power than the Punto’s petrol motor. The Micra’s petrol engine makes 75bhp and 10.60kgm while the Polo petrol produces 74bhp and 11.21kgm. On paper, the petrol i20 engine makes more power and torque than the Punto Evo, Nissan Micra and the Volkwagen Polo.
The Hyundai Elite i20 diesel retains the same 1396cc oil burner from the previous model that is good for 89bhp and 22.4kgm. In comparison, the Nissan Micra gets a bigger 1461cc engine but it makes only 63.12bhp and 16.31kgm. The Swift and the Punto Evo both get powered by Fiat’s 1248cc Multijet engine but in different states of tune. The Swift diesel makes 74bhp and 19.37kgm while the Punto Evo diesel generates 75bhp and 20.08kgm.
Only the Volkswagen Polo facelift which gets an all-new 1498cc diesel engine makes 89bhp and 23.45kgm. So, the i20 diesel and the Polo diesel appear evenly matched.
So, this is how the new Hyundai Elite i20 compares against its current rivals on paper.Article Source
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
U.S. dealers spared for now
By: Ryan Beene
Hyundai Motor Co. is rolling out a global dealership design initiative aimed at creating a unified look at its stores worldwide before the end of the decade.
The plan comes just four years after Hyundai revamped its design standards for U.S. dealerships under a dramatically different vision, prompting about 470 of the automaker's roughly 820 U.S. dealers to invest millions of dollars to renovate their stores or build new buildings. Hyundai says it won't force its U.S. dealers to adopt the new global program.
The new effort, called the Global Dealership Space Identity, was developed primarily for emerging markets and countries where Hyundai has lacked a facility design program, according to company officials. The global design features an open, airy showroom with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass topped by a bronze-colored roof structure.
By contrast, the program that U.S. dealers adopted features a silver exterior wrapping with blue accents, namely the large rooftop cube structure bearing the Hyundai logo.
Because many Hyundai dealerships have been updated, deploying the program in the United States appears to be less of a priority than in other markets, and Hyundai is taking a hands-off approach with its U.S. dealers, at least for now.
Hyundai officials in California and South Korea say the new dealership design eventually will appear stateside, starting with a small number of pilot dealerships yet to be identified, but there's no timetable for a broader U.S. rollout.
Adam Kraushaar, president of Lester Glenn Hyundai in Toms River, N.J., and a member of Hyundai's national dealer council, said dealers and executives discussed the program during the most recent council meeting last month.
"It was conveyed to us that whether you call it a one-off or a pilot, some new buildings may adopt that image, but there will not be a capital expenditure requirement or even a request coming down the line," Kraushaar said.
The program was applied first to Hyundai's new sales channel in Mexico, starting in May. Dealerships in Sao Paolo; Rio de Janeiro; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Paris; and Hamburg, Germany, also have adopted the program, according to a Hyundai Motor Co. spokeswoman. Hyundai Canada, which hasn't had a recent dealership design program, also is applying the global design to its network.
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You can reach Ryan Beene at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter
Monday, August 11, 2014
A primary duty of any luxury car is to make its driver look good. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis gets it. Heck, this guy even waves a greeting when you approach.
Actually, that wave is the power-folding outside mirrors, tucked against the doors when the car is at rest, automatically swinging out as the key-holder approaches. (Of course, that didn't stop me from telling my 3- and 4-year-old granddaughters that the car likes me so much it waves every time it sees me. Alas, they looked dubious.)
But Genesis offers a whole lot more than sycophantic greetings. Available in V-6 and V-8 trim, we drove a top-of-the-line Ultimate Package V-8 and wanted for nothing but a chauffeur.
Actually, we didn't want a chauffeur either. Genesis is a joy to drive.
No surprise, I guess, since late in the car's development, Genesis engineers got help from dynamics specialists at Lotus to fine-tune this all-new luxury sedan. The Brit sports-car experts calculated damper and spring rates, picked anti-roll bars and offered sage advice on engine and transmission mounts and power steering calibration.
The result is a generation-two Genesis that provides gratifyingly communicative handling without ever forgetting it's a luxury car. Its demeanor inspires confidence while its ride and interior noise levels are on par with Lexus.
Genesis engines, with some fine tuning, are carried over: 311-hp V-6 or 420-hp V-8. Both are managed by an eight-speed automatic, also retained from gen-one but tweaked for duty here.
In the case of our V-8, power was delivered with smooth authority while the transmission's ratio trades were seamless. Riding a notably stiffer chassis that's happily married to a comfortably compliant suspension, Genesis feels every bit the luxury car it is.
In 250 miles of mostly, but not exclusively, highway driving, our V-8 returned 22 mpg.
Cabin room is fabulous, while amenities in our top-of-the-line model were enough to make a Silicon Valley millionaire blush. The short list includes power everything (including rear sunshade), intuitive and easy-to-use infotainment controls (including knobs for the radio, thank you), genuine wood and aluminum trim, creamy leather, navigation, Smart Cruise (capable of bringing the car to a complete stop) and every safety nanny imaginable, including front and rear park assist, Blind Spot Warning and Lane Departure Alert.
Genesis is a no-excuses luxury car but, topping out absolutely loaded under 56 grand, priced like a bargain.
Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer living in St. Louis. He also is a regular automotive contributor to Fox 2 KTVI-TV St. Louis. You can email him at email@example.com
Friday, August 08, 2014
Just the Facts:
•The 2015 Hyundai Elantra sedan earned the highest five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
•The Elantra received four stars in the front crash test, five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover crash test.
•Standard safety features on the 2015 Elantra include six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and antilock brakes.
WASHINGTON — The 2015 Hyundai Elantra sedan earned the highest five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Elantra received four stars in the front crash test, five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover crash test.
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra GT and coupe have not been rated.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Elantra include six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and antilock brakes. Other standard features include hill-start assist control, daytime running lights and a driver's blind-spot mirror.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not rated the 2015 Elantra.
Key competitors to the Elantra include the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
The 2015 Elantra is on sale now.
Edmunds says: The results of federal crash tests are just beginning to trickle in. Car shoppers should note that the 2015 Honda Civic also earned the top five-star rating from NHTSA. The 2015 Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla have not been rated.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Tuesday, Aug 2014
Hyundai will travel to this month's Moscow Motor Show to unveil a stretched version of its range-topping Equus sedan appropriately dubbed Equus Limousine.
Hyundai stretched the Equus' wheelbase by 11 inches, bumping its overall length to 214 inches. Wheelbase aside, the Limousine stands out from the standard Equus thanks to a sizable hood ornament and a thick B-pillar with a "Limousine" emblem.
Inside, the Equus Limousine boasts a luxurious cockpit unabashedly designed to coddle the rear passengers. The short-wheelbase Equus' bench seat has been replaced by two power-adjustable individual seats separated by a wide center console that doubles as an arm rest. To create a premium ambiance, the entire cabin is upholstered in plush leather and fitted with real wood trim.
The Equus Limousine is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine that develops 430 horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque. Linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the eight-cylinder mill sends the Equus Limousine from zero to 62 mph in 5.8 seconds and on to a top speed of about 140 mph. The stretched Equus comes standard with all-wheel drive.
The Hyundai Equus Limousine will go on sale across Russia shortly after greeting the show-going public in Moscow. It will carry a base price of 4,040,000 rubles, a sum that converts to approximately $113,000.
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
This is the story of three little Velosters. Baby Hyundai is showroom stock, tidy and swift as a compact turbo coupe.
Mama Hyundai is tizzied and teased, quicker in every area but still nicely mannered and well behaved. Papa Hyundai is plain outrageous, with a race-sharp focus that means he will never fit into everyday traffic.
They have been brought together this week to show what the backroom team at Hyundai Australia has been doing to prove their brand is not just for bargain buyers who want something with a price tag ending in $990.
They also hope the likes the Velosters will go some way to ending sentences about their cars that finish with the words, "For a Hyundai". "We cannot change our history. We can only go forward, which is what we are doing," says Hyundai Australia boss John Elsworth.
He is flat-out on preparations for a potential game-changer at Hyundai, the $60,000 Genesis limousine, but cannot resist a quick visit to the high-speed hit-out on a private test track north of Sydney. What Elsworth sees, and what I get to drive, are three cars that show Hyundai is doing the basics right. It's just missing the final finishing, and edgy extras, that take a car from fine to good and on towards great.
"We wanted to see what we could do with the Veloster. We wanted to explore. Push the boundaries," says product planning boss Andrew Tuitahi. So he hands over the keys to Baby Veloster, so I can learn the track and get my head recalibrated around the car. What I rediscover is a coupe that gets along fairly smartly but feels a bit tinny and slow.
Then it's time for Mama Veloster. A bit of background first. It's obviously tweaked, as there is a MoTec auxiliary dashboard sitting up above the centre console, keeping track of all the on-board electronics. Mama has more turbo boost, a free-flow exhaust, better brake pads and upgraded springs and shocks.
As I turn on to the track, I can immediately feel the difference. The response is strong and more urgent, the car stops better and sits flatter. I'm lapping several seconds quicker with less effort, in a car that is working with me instead of holding me up.
Tuitahi says all of the changes can be certified for road use and there is more power available — it's currently about 35kW up from standard — if buyers ask for it. He's hoping to get approval to push towards production but knows there is still a long way to go.
Then it's time for big Papa, a fully race-tweaked Veloster with a rollcage, track tyres, brakes and suspension, and a wraparound racing seat and suede-wrapped steering wheel.
It's like being strapped inside a tin can with the Tap Dogs doing their stuff on the outside — but this is a mightily quick tin can. It belts out of corners, stops in what feels half the distance of Mama and Baby, and responds instantly to all my commands. It still needs some work on a throttle that refuses to snap back, and pedals that make smooth braking too tough, but it does the job.
As the sun dips low on the hills, casting giant shadows over the track, I'm left to consider what the Veloster family means and what they can do. For me, they are proof that Hyundai builds cars that are not just dull-but-worthy bargains. They also show the company must push harder — much harder — to take the next step.
For me, the best car of the three is exactly the Mama Veloster. Baby is too slow and harsh, Papa is too much of most everything if you're not in Targa Tasmania, but Mama hits the sweet spot.
Halfway around my final lap in the mid-range version, I realise I'm enjoying the car more than I expect, because it's got more of the good stuff without any downside.
It's not as flat-out rorty as a Megane RS, and there are people who would prefer a Toyota 86, but Hyundai reckons Mama could be rolled into showrooms for less than $40,000. For me, that's just right.
1.6-litre turbo 4-cyl petrol, 150kW/265Nm
6sp manual; FWD
6.8L/100km, 163g/km CO2
Monday, August 04, 2014
Entry Price: $19,600
Price as tested: $24,735
This week, we're driving the good looking 2014 Hyundai Elantra Coupe, a sporty version that comes with a new, more powerful 2.0-liter four cylinder engine. Don't fret however, as the "more power" doesn't hurt Elantra's outstanding fuel economy.
Founded in 1967 by brothers Chung Ju-yung and Se-yung, Hyundai's first ever car to arrive on USA soil was the 1975 Ford Cortina, which came about through a mutual corporate co-op. Here we are 40 years later, and Hyundai is a respected standalone manufacturer building some of the finest cars in the world. Consumer Reports 2013 car ratings named Elantra, in any dress, one of its top recommended compacts offering great value and performance for dollar spent.
Notable, too, is Hyundai's dedication to USA employment opportunities. Hyundai's America Technical Centers, located in California and Michigan, and its main assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, is where technicians, assembly workers and designers create the next generations of Hyundai vehicles.
Granted, the new Coupe we're driving this week is assembled in Korea, but numerous models assembled overseas are designed here in the states. Hyundai has assembly plants in US, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and the Czech Republic.
Elantra Coupe for '14 now boasts a 183-horsepower 2.0-liter four cylinder as standard fare, with 154 lb. ft. of torque at your beckon. Connected to a fine shifting six-speed automatic transmission, this engine is far superior to the 1.8-liter, 148 horsepower engine that powered last year's Coupe. Most notable is fuel economy, as the performance oriented Elantra Coupe delivers a solid 24 city and 34 highway EPA numbers.
As for the exterior design, this Coupe attracts a lot of attention, with enough "aesthetic power" that found a young female stopping her 4x4 across the street from where our tester was parked, and immediately taking photos on her iPhone of the Elantra. Inquiring quickly, she immediately said "it's exactly the kind of car I'm looking for, a sporty two-door coupe." She already knew it was the new Hyundai Coupe, and I told her it started at just $19,600. Her response was, "I like the looks and the 10-year warranty. I'm going to go test drive one this weekend."
Since she mentioned the 10-year warranty, it's time Test Drive explains further. Specifically, Hyundai's 10-Year/100,000 mile warranty is still the best in the business, with the exception of corporate cousin Kia. Few if any competing manufacturers offer 10-year durations on 100,000-mile pledges, thus Hyundai is quick to stress that there's a reason why the company can back its vehicles with America's best warranty. According to its marketing proclamation, "every Hyundai is tested in the world's most extreme driving conditions. Before they go to the dealership, we make sure everything from the paint job to the powertrain will stand the test of time."
Hyundai's 10-year warranty duration continues to attract the segment that doesn't drive more than 10,000 miles a year. These customers come from all age groups (especially seniors) who realize the 10-year warranty is way better than any 5 year/100,000 mile clause.
Thanks to positive input from readers, who enjoy Test Drive "history lessons" in lieu of expanded suspension component info, we'll continue along this path.
The Elantra Coupe delivers in all areas, and then some. Our version came with a $4,200 Technology Package, adding a sunroof, leather seating, navigation with seven-inch screen, rearview camera, 360-watt premium stereo system, push button start and much more.
Elantra's standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, sport tuned suspension, all of the modern safety features, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, all the traction and brake assist controls, cruise and some 35 other features from heated front seats to a blind spot rear view mirror.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, 2,861 lb. curb weight, 14.8 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
In ending, front-drive Elantra continues to be a huge part Hyundai's success story, and also happens to be the same name of the company's first ever, all-Hyundai import, namely the 1988 Sonata. (The Excel came over in 1986, but still shared technology with other manufacturers).
The 2014 Sonata remains a Test Drive top recommendation. It rides great and handles well, all in one very sporty compact package.
Likes: Performance, great looks, nice interior, 10-year powertrain warranty, MPG.
Dislikes: Some road and engine noise, rear view safety features should all be standard.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).