Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Hyundai sales up 3.1% to 52,062 units in June

Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) on Wednesday reported a 3.1 per cent increase in total sales at 52,062 units in June.

The company had sold 50,518 units in the same month last year, HMIL said in a statement.

In the domestic market, Hyundai sold 36,300 units last month as compared with 33,514 units in June 2014, up 8.3 per cent.

However, the company's exports declined 7.3 per cent to 15,762 units as against 17,004 units in the same period last year.

HMIL senior vice-president (sales and marketing) Rakesh Srivastava said: "In a market bearing low traction consistent demand of Elite i20, Grand, Xcent- Hyundai volume grew by 8.3 per cent and with the upcoming launch of global SUV Creta, we are confident of sustained growth."



Hyundai’s Accent has kept momentum going in showrooms since it first arrived in 1995. Cute, inexpensive (perhaps even cheap…), economical and fun (enough) to drive, the subcompact 4-door sedan and 3-door hatchback allowed many people to become mobile, much like the Pony did a little over a decade previously.

Although it was not the most reliable of cars, the return on the small investment for buyers turned out to be worthwhile and the car’s reputation as transportation ensured survival.
Hyundai readjusted the Accent over the generations, and this 4th iteration of the car is the best equipped, most stylish of them all. It is with this car (along with Kia and their Rio) that the Koreans turned the tables on all by offering amenities never before seen in “econo-boxes.”

The 2015 Hyundai is a worthy buy and here are 5 key points in its favour:
The Accent is spared over-the-top design faux pas’ that are found on the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit, to name a pair, where their anime-like fasciae are laughable and distracting.

In my opinion, the hatchback is a more attractive proposition than the sedan, for both aesthetic and usability aspects. The higher the trim, the nicer the car looks thanks in large part to the 16” alloy wheels. My tested SE also included fog lights and a rear spoiler.

The Accent’s fluidic design is handsome and clean. The cabin was conceived with ergonomics in mind and the result is a place where passengers find what they need and are looking for easily and quickly.

Amenities and value
Not so long ago, power windows and door locks (along with air-conditioning) were big deals in small cars. In 2015, they are all essentially standard.

What may surprise is that for under $20k, features like satellite radio, Bluetooth, front heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry, a power sunroof, LED headlights and fog lights are all included.

A basic Accent sedan starts at $13,249 while the hatchback requires $250 more. The Accent is actually one of the least expensive cars on the market at the moment. There is the issue known as the Nissan Micra, but beyond that the Accent offers loads of value for the money.

At $18,849, the SE automatic is a worthy consideration. Hyundai will generally throw in an incentive to make the deal that much sweeter.

Some of the Accent’s competitors include amenities like leather seating surfaces, navigation, rearview cameras, and more. The next Accent, expected later on this year, will likely have all of these items and more on offer.

Many subcompact cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris, skimp on interior space. Front room and access will be good, but leg, shoulder and headroom will be limited for two adults in the rear. Meanwhile, the trunk is barely large enough to hold a lunchbox.
The Accent plays a different card. Its cabin is spacious enough in the rear to squeeze three adults width-wise for a short period of time. What’s more, the hatchback’s 600 litres of boot space are generous enough for a good-size amount of weekend gear.

In this department, the Accent shines. Its 138 horsepower 1.6L 4-cylinder engine is one of the more powerful in the segment. As well, transmission choices are between a 6-speed manual and automatic.

The mill is more than at home under the Accent’s bonnet. Its power is well managed by the smooth-operating autobox. The latter will downshift at the driver’s whim. Despite some occasional hurried driving, the cabin remains sufficiently quiet for a normal-volume conversation to take place.

Despite being one of the more horsepower-rich cars in the category, its fuel consumption numbers are reasonable. I averaged 7.5L/100km during my weeklong test.

On the road
Where the Accent takes a mild tumble is on the road. Steering lacks precision and its assistance is random or so it seems.
The car’s ride quality is not great, either. The suspension soaks up surface imperfections well enough, however, it disposes with the compressed dampers’ and springs’ energy poorly, upsetting the car’s otherwise fairly neutral behaviour. The Accent prefers easy driving to anything resembling spirited action behind the wheel.

The 2015 Hyundai Accent
On a typical commute, the Accent displays all the right moves and proves to be well-suited for family duty.
In the segment, the Honda Fit may be ugly but provides the best interior space of the group. The Micra is the price leader, while the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit are the better drivers.


Monday, July 06, 2015

Review: Is the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Finally a Credible Luxury Sedan?

There are rumors that Hyundai will launch a separate luxury brand when it reveals its upcoming luxury SUV, but when the Genesis launched back for 2008, it made sense for the company to hold off on launching a new marque. Hyundai’s reputation was really only just starting to improve on the backs of competitive-for-the-price offerings like the Sonata and the Elantra. The Veracruz, meanwhile, had been launched to middling success as Hyundai’s first attempt at offering a slightly more premium vehicle. Spinning off a luxury brand would have been extremely risky.

Even without creating a Genesis sub-brand, building a rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan was a pretty serious gamble for Hyundai. The first generation Genesis had just as much of a chance of going down in history as a bigger failure than the Volkswagen Phaeton as it did of becoming a success. Somehow though, dealers were able to convince enough people to spend $40,000 on a fancy Hyundai that the company started work on a second generation.

But the Hyundai that launched the second generation Genesis is far from the same company that launched the first generation sedan. Its reputation in the U.S. has improved drastically in that time, and while the new Genesis is still large and expensive, the Equus is even larger and even more expensive. Combine all that with the success of the first generation sedan, and Hyundai had a license to make its successor more than just a luxury bargain. It could spend the money to turn it into a true luxury competitor.

So did Hyundai succeed at building a credibly BMW 5 Series competitor, or is the second generation Genesis one more example of a car that’s close but not good enough? A few weeks ago, Hyundai gave me the opportunity to test the V6 version equipped with New England-friendly all-wheel-drive, and I had the opportunity to find out.

One of the biggest criticisms of the first generation Genesis was that its styling was a bit bland and derivative. It certainly wasn’t unattractive, but its looks were forgettable at best. That’s been changed in the second generation’s design, with large headlights and an upright grille giving the Genesis a distinctive look. The styling is still fairly conservative, but it’s attractive in its own right. Some photos don’t always make the design look its best, but you won’t have that problem as much in person.

While I like the design, there’s no escaping that the Genesis is a very large car. Much like the Chrysler 300C that I also drove recently, it barely fit in my driveway and never quite felt like it was comfortable on Boston’s narrow roads. It did shine, however, in the comfort department.

My tester came equipped with Hyundai’s Signature Package, Tech Package, and Ultimate Package, which all added a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, rear sunshades, upgraded leather seats, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, front and rear parking assistance, aluminum and matte finish wood trim, a 9.2-inch touchscreen display, a 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, and a few other features, as well.

The aluminum accents were a nice touch, and the matte-finish wood trim gave the interior a high-end feel that paired well with the leather. Some of the interior plastics didn’t feel quite on par with the rest of the more luxurious touches, but nothing felt flimsy or poorly put together.  The seats ended up being surprisingly comfortable and fit my body exceptionally well. What can I say? Being a 50th percentile male has its perks.

I didn’t get a chance to road trip to New York City in the Genesis, but I gladly would have. It might have even been a more comfortable choice than the Chrysler 300C was.

I did, however, take it for a long drive one evening in search of stress relief and some better driving roads. Frustrated with the crowded streets around my house, my plan was to head in the general direction of the middle of nowhere and see where I ended up. It ended up being incredibly relaxing, partly because of how well the suspension ironed out the sea of imperfections that Massachusetts calls roads.

Even in sport mode, the Genesis never felt like a full-on sports sedan, but how much sportiness can you really expect out of a car that’s more than 16 feet long? It was confident and composed through any turn I tossed it into, but doing so always felt a bit out of character – like a dad doing a shot with his son at the bar on parents weekend before going back to sipping his glass of Eagle Rare. It’s not that he can’t handle it. He’s just a little too sophisticated for those kinds of shenanigans.

Under the hood, the 311-horsepower V6 felt perfectly-suited to the car. Hyundai offers a 5.0-liter, 420-horsepower V8 as well, but the V6 is the better choice. I had a chance to briefly drive the V8 version of the Genesis about a year ago, and while it’s certainly faster than the V6, the ride is too quiet and isolated to truly feel how much faster it is from the driver’s seat. If you’re considering a Genesis, save your money and go with the more fuel-efficient V6 instead.

Much like the 300C, where the Genesis really shone was as a luxurious cruiser. You’d have to spend a lot more money to find a nicer place to spend several hours whether you’re aimlessly exploring New England back roads or rolling down an interstate. In fact, even though the Genesis is a Korean vehicle, it’s probably the 300C’s most direct competitor. After all, they’re both luxury-minded sedans from non-luxury brands built on rear-wheel-drive platforms. With a V6 and all-wheel-drive, their MSRPs are also $105 apart before you start adding options.

Once you do start adding options, the Genesis will probably come out a few thousand dollars more expensive, but even so, I would have a hard time recommending the Chrysler over the Hyundai. The 300C certainly isn’t a bad car, and anyone who likes its styling more than the Genesis is completely justified, but in so many areas, the Hyundai felt just a little bit better. All those little bits add up though, and after driving both back-to-back, the Genesis was definitely my favorite.

Heading upmarket, the comparisons definitely get a little more difficult. From purely a price perspective, the Genesis definitely beats the Germans. A base model BMW 5 Series starts right where a fully loaded, rear-wheel-drive Genesis V6 stops. You even can add all-wheel-drive to the Genesis and still spend less than you would on the least expensive Mercedes E-Class. Long term ownership will also save you even more money when you consider that Hyundai’s spectacular warranty applies to the Genesis as well.

If you want to make the logical choice with your money, you should definitely go with the Hyundai over the Germans. The thing is, though, spending more than $50,000 on a car isn’t a logical choice. I guarantee that no matter how many potential luxury sedan customers I recommend the Genesis to, the vast majority would still choose the German car they wanted in the first place. That’s unfortunate, because the Genesis really is a very good car.

By now, Hyundai has seen that the Genesis can sell. With a Genesis-based SUV coming soon, hopefully Hyundai can also see a case for spinning off its own luxury brand to sell its premium vehicles under. Perhaps that will be enough to earn the Genesis sedan the attention it deserves.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

2015 Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi Review

What is it?:

The first go in a diesel-powered version of the new Tucson, Hyundai’s impressive follow-up to the already popular ix35.

Alongside the 1.6-litre T-GDi we’ve already sampled, the higher-powered 2.0-litre CRDi is the only engine not carried over wholesale from its predecessor. Hyundai did in fact previously sell an earlier variant of the 182bhp four-cylinder unit,but ended up ditching it during the ix35’s life cycle.

Tweaked to comply with Euro 6 emissions obligations, the punchier motor now returns to fill out the top of the Tucson range.

Clearly it offers a bit more grunt, being about a second quicker to 62mph than its 134bhp sibling, although really this is as much about Hyundai’s ambitions for the Tucson as anything else: there’s no equivalent to the engine in the Nissan Qashqai, but there is one in the larger Ford Kuga, and the firm plainly sees this model’s customers as fodder for the Tucson, too.

No surprise, then, that just as the Kuga tops out at beyond £30k in 2.0-litre TDCi Titanium X Sport trim, so does the 182bhp, AWD version of the Tucson’s Premium SE spec - albeit by not quite so much at £30,845 with a six-speed manual gearbox.

For that you get plenty, including the premium niceties such as cooling-fan front seats, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, powered tailgate and the keyless start with which Hyundai likes to festoon its high-priced mainstream offerings.

What's it like?:

Much like a Santa Fe, alhough slightly smaller and handily better.

Make room on your browser for Hyundai’s seven-seat SUV and the styling debt owed by the Tucson to its big brother is readily apparent and actually not undesirable - so long as you’ve already made your peace with the shiny mid-Atlantic bridgework going on at the front end.

Side by side, the difference in size is surprisingly modest and goes to show just how much real estate a 30mm addition in wheelbase length has bought the Tucson.

The all-new platform underneath donates some extra width, too, all of which translates inside to a prospect that feels, on first impressions at least, noticeably more spacious than a Qashqai. Bigger than a Kuga? Well, it’s certainly in the ballpark, and Hyundai claims a 107-litre advantage in boot capacity alone.

The new cabin is arguably a little more handsome than the Santa Fe's, too. A wider centre console, broader HVAC controls and the new generation 8.0in touchscreen all contribute to horizontal sense of space, and the ergonomics are only upset by the slightly rearward gear lever. It’s shift is positive enough though (and easily preferable to the lacklustre auto), and despite an occasionally overzealous brake servo, the control surfaces in the main follow suit.

Only the steering, mentioned previously, disappoints consistently, particularly when the Lane Keeping Assist System is on, as it will be by default, and aggressively attempts to adjust your course. Even when this is deactivated the wheel has an unpleasant doughiness to the straight ahead - a sure sign of autobahn-based fettling.

This minor demerit is insufficient though to take the gloss off what certainly feels like a very well-oiled exercise in Germanic development. The quality of the ride and handling already highlighted aboard the petrol model are, if anything, enhanced further here, the diesel version smoothing the T-GDi’s slight brittleness into a well-judged pliancy that makes the exceptional body control feel like an integral part of the experience.

Predictably, this augurs well for the handling. The Tucson makes no particular claim of sportiness, but the platform’s 48% increase in torsional rigidity and a surprisingly neutral four-wheel drive system are noticeable advantages in a car rightly seeking to instill confidence at all times. The engine’s 295lb ft of torque means mid-range punchiness is decent, and it doesn’t protest when you want to make use of the extra power at 4000rpm.

Should I buy one?:

The idea that the Tucson name may have had some kudos with UK buyers (it's the line being trumpeted by Hyundai) is largely nonsense, but a first look at the new model suggests that’s about to change very quickly. This is precisely the kind of good-looking, well-mannered, quiet, comfortable and highly competent rival that Nissan and Ford will have feared.

However, as we noted with the T-GDi, while the higher-powered diesel might be new and fairly likable, it’s destined to be a fairly low-volume item, and the modest 20lb ft difference between it and the more economical 134bhp alternative suggests there’s no reason to argue for it unduly. (The 19g/km CO2 gap between it and the equivalent Kuga do it no favours either.) The best then, is yet to come. But the Tucson is a potential class leader in waiting, regardless.


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Forte Fortifies Kia Lineup

Carving through the chaos of the compact car segment is not an easy task, considering it is one of the most populated and popular segments in the Philippines. But that did not stop Kia from formally launching its offering in the compact car segment – the all-new Kia Forte.

Fortunately, Filipino consumers are not short on options in the segment with almost 20 models to choose from, ranging from the conservative mainstays like the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer and Hyundai Elantra to name a few, to stylish alternatives from Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and BMW.
Kia Motors Philippines president Ginia Domingo is confident on the features the all-new Forte brings to the table.
“The three Forte variants relate to different markets but at the end of the day, they all carry the renowned Kia name and with it is a guarantee of refreshing interiors, compelling styles and powerful road performance,” she said.
Kia has been making huge improvements in shifting the perception that it is an affordable and cheerful brand. Columbian Autocar Corporation, the exclusive distributor of Kia vehicles in the Philippines, held the grand, public unveiling of the three Forte variants at Newport Mall Atrium: four-door sedan, five-door hatchback and the two-door Koup.
Each variant has its distinct strengths and are expected to make a big and immediate impact in the market. Among the popular features of the Kia brand are distinct styling and detail-oriented interiors fit for diverse lifestyles and personalities.
Crafted under the direction of Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, Kia says its European lines are designed to portray “dynamic muscularity” and provoke an emotional response.

Being a two-door coupe, the Koup is in a class of its own. With frameless doors and 215/45/17 tires, the Koup has a sleek and sporty vibe.  The brand’s newest head-turner is available in Snow White Pearl, Racing Red and Aurora Black.
For a lifestyle that demands action and function, the Forte’s 5-door hatchback provides ample space inside and a polished look outside matched with 215/45/17 tires.
It is offered in five distinctive body colors: Racing Red, Planet Blue, Aurora Black, Snow White Pearl and Metal Stream that will give other hatches something to look out for.
Completing the all-new Forte variants is the 4-door sedan that sports classic elegance and a timeless design. It is Kia’s new take on what a traditional sedan should offer and is available in five vibrant colors: Snow White Pearl, Temptation Red, Aurora Black, Metal Stream and Planet Blue.
All three variants share the same platform and have wide, low stances and unique concave door contours to create a truly stylish vehicle, while the addition of front and rear quarter glass panels gives the all-new Forte a sense of roominess and improves visibility by eliminating blind spots, except for the Koup. Trendy LED strip tail lamps and LED headlight demonstrates Kia’s designs are at par with the rest of the European brands.
The Forte’s cabin is fairly conservative in its European design with its primarily black interior trim and simple instrument pod. It is well thought out in terms of space with good storage for small items, such as the large binnacle in front of the gearlever with USB/AUX inputs and a 12-volt power outlet, dual-zone full-auto climate control, cup holders in the center console and cooling glove box to cool drinks.

The hard plastics used in most places are broken up nicely by the carbon-style panels on the dash and the soft-touch materials with a wavy design in the door panels. The center armrest adds a little bit of luxury to the overall ambience.
There’s also good space for all occupants, starting with a comfortable driving position and good vision and decent head- and leg-room for rear passengers, most especially with the two-door Koup, that all have rear air vents.  The Forte hatchback is furnished inside with leather material for its seats and advanced multimedia capabilities.
Engine, transmission
Kia’s latest 5-door hatchback and all-new two-door Koup are powered by a timing-chain driven NU 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder, DOHC, D-CVVT, 16-valve, MPI engine that cranks out a maximum of 161 PS at 6,500 revolutions per minute and a maximum torque of 19.8 kgm at 4,800 rpm. Meanwhile, the Forte 4-door sedan is motivated with a timing chain-driven Gamma 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder, DOHC, D-CVVT, 16-valve, MPI engine putting out 130 PS of power at 6,300 rpm and 16 kgm of torque at 4,850 rpm. The available transmission is a six-speed automatic with shiftronic system.

Along with the use of high-strength steel in the body that improves safety, the all-new Forte has active safety technology like Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management that works with the ESC to provide “corrective” steering inputs in tricky road conditions. In addition, Kia boasts of the patented Flex Steer System that allows different levels of steering assistance– Normal, Sport and Comfort.

The Forte is another addition to the Kia stable that can help the South Korean company to further its gains in the increasingly tough worldwide automobile market. And it looks like Kia knows what the buyer wants.

“The all-new Forte truly exudes a dynamic presence on the road and we can’t wait for everyone to try a different driving experience aboard any of the three Forte variants,” Domingo said.
The Forte 1.6L EX A/T 4-door is priced at P965,000 while Forte 2.0L SX A/T 5-door hatchback is offered at P1.190 million. The Kia Forte 2.0L EX A/T Koup is priced at P1.09 million.


Now You Can Unlock And Start Your Hyundai Remotely With The Apple Watch

Apple and Hyundai fans can now use both of their prized devices—an Apple Watch and a Hyundai vehicle—together through the automaker’s cloud-based Blue Link app.

The free smart watch app lets users lock, unlock and start their car remotely simply by giving voice commands, such as “Start my car” or “Unlock my car.”

Previously, Blue Link had only been available on smart phones and Android Wear smart watches.

Besides locking and unlocking the doors, and starting and stopping the engine, the app can locate a vehicle lost in a parking lot, either by flashing the lights and honking the horn, or by mapping it on the smart watch. The app also includes a parking meter reminder and a vehicle status check.

The Apple Watch app works with all Blue Link-equipped Hyundai vehicles. The 2012 Sonata was the first Hyundai to get Blue Link capability. The feature has since been rolled out across the lineup.

A new version of Blue Link debuted on the 2015 Azera, Genesis and Sonata. Enhancements to the Blue Link system (not necessarily available for use with the smart watch app) include automatic collision notification; an engine timer, climate control and other features added to the remote-start function; and destination search powered by Google, which allows users to look up an address on their smart phone and send it to the vehicle’s navigation system.


Friday, July 03, 2015

ROAD TEST: Hyundai Accent Hatch Big on Family Practicality

Topping out just under $20K, Hyundai Accent is no longer a cheapie subcompact. Nor does it look the part.

Sure, you can score one for as little as $13,249 ($350 more for the hatchback). But that’s the base car with six-speed manual -- and none of the comforts we now expect in our rides. No air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, Bluetooth, telescopic steering or anything that elevates the daily commute above abject misery.

So an Accent you can really live with will cost another couple of grand, be it for the sedan or five-door hatchback as tested.

The LE five-door ($15,999) and the SE ($18,499) are two new models in the Accent lineup.

Hyundai is a master of packaging and has reduced the steep price walk from its barebones entry car to the next model up by introducing the LE, which for another $2,400 adds a six-speed automatic (with Shiftronic), air conditioning and remote start.

Two more steps up is the sportier SE -- my ride for the week. It was dipped in a head-turning shade of Sunflower Yellow and rolled on a set of 16-inch alloys instead of crappy 14-inch steel wheels with wheelcovers.

Compared to the ìjellybeanî styling of the last-generation Accent, this one’s quite handsome with an aggressive profile that features sculpted sheetmetal, and a sharp character line that follows its rising beltline.

In front, the black hexagonal grille is flanked by swept-back headlamps, and in back, the Accent’s rear-sloping roofline ends in a sporty roof spoiler. The car’s wedge shape not only looks cool but is good for aerodynamics. Coefficient of drag is a slippery 0.30.

But it’s not so good for rear visibility.

Inside, there’s no shortage of hard plastic, but it’s nicely textured and doesn’t look cheap. The centre stack is simply laid out, with large dials for HVAC and basic buttons and knobs for the six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system.

Steering is tilt/telescopic, and includes controls for audio, cruise and Bluetooth phone, and front seats get two-position heating. A power sunroof provides much-needed light to the mostly charcoal interior.

Headroom is abundant in back, and leg room is adequate for most, able to accommodate two adults -- three in a pinch. The 60/40 seats drop to expand the generous 600-litre cargo hold to 1,345 litres. That was enough room last winter to swallow an entire trade show display, which I assumed would take two trips -- or an SUV.

Power comes from an all-aluminum 1.6-litre four cylinder with gasoline direct injection (GDI), and dual continuously variable valve timing. It makes 138 hp and 123 lb/ft of torque, besting several major competitors. But with tall gearing, it’s more about fuel economy than snappy performance.

At highway speeds, it turns over just north of 2,000 rpm, making this subcompact far less buzzy than some I’ve driven. And although the Accent is no hot hatch, it’s on par with much of the competition.

ActiveEco will help achieve the posted fuel economy of 8.9/6.3/7.7 L/100 km, but as it blunts the throttle and remaps the transmission for earlier shifting, any liveliness from the little four-pot engine is gone. I kept ActiveEco off most of the week and still achieved just over eight litres per 100 km combined.

Vehicles like this Accent hatchback, and the slightly more commodious Elantra GT I drove a week earlier, nicely fill the needs of today’s smaller families.

With ample room for four passengers, a ìtrunkî larger than most full-size sedans, and thrifty fuel economy, it’s no wonder so many buyers choose five doors over four.