Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'15 Hyundai Sonata Eco 1.6L Turbo

We’ve fired up the machinery for the 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition, now in its 21st year, and Hyundai’s improved 1.6L turbocharged “Gamma” 4-cyl. makes a compelling argument as a hybrid alternative, with a base sticker price of $23,275.

Last year, we started sharing informational spec sheets reviewed by WardsAuto editors as they judge each entry. The tally is a moving target, but we likely will end up with more than 40 new or improved engines to consider this fall. Winners will be announced in December.

The Gamma turbo, driving the midsize Sonata sedan, has come to our Michigan office and currently is under review. Here’s the sheet editors have been studying as they decide whether this 1.6L engine is deserving.

Hyundai gave us this engine to evaluate two years ago in the Veloster Turbo, and it didn’t make the cut, partly because the competition was fierce among 4-cyl. turbos.

That was the year we picked 2.0L turbos from GM, BMW and Ford. Hyundai engineers took this engine back to the woodshed to make some adjustments, and it returns with less horsepower in a bigger vehicle that is about 400 lbs. (181 kg) heavier, the new Sonata Eco, which is tuned for fuel efficiency.

On paper, given these factors, this engine should feel underpowered and sluggish. Hyundai turbocharged direct-injection engines have disappointed us for being raucous without feeling all that powerful.

But a number of editors have driven the Sonata Eco, and their reviews are favorable. To date, the car has delivered 31.2 mpg (7.5 L/100 km).

It’s balky off the line due to turbo lag/accelerator calibration, but editors say the engine is quiet, smooth and plenty powerful, even in Eco mode. Sport mode is more fun, with transmission shift points coming at higher RPM, but fuel economy is bound to suffer.

So then the question is, does this version feature enough new technology to merit a close second look compared with the Veloster Turbo reviewed two years ago?

Hyundai folks briefed us on this engine and said they redesigned the intake runners to reduce weight and improve airflow into the turbocharger. They also switched to an electric wastegate for more accurate boost control and to step up mid/high-load fuel efficiency.

The improved engine also has a higher compression ratio and a low-friction roller chain, both of which help boost fuel efficiency.

The Veloster Turbo used a 6-speed dry DCT while the new Sonata gets a 7-speed DCT with a higher torque capacity (246 lb.-ft. [334 Nm]). Hyundai says the new Sonata is the first midsize sedan using a 7-speed DCT.

Note also the horsepower peak still doesn’t arrive until 5,500 rpm after a fair amount of caning. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen 1.8L turbo-4 that won last year reaches peak hp by 4,800 rpm.

The 1.6L’s competition this year, besides VW’s excellent 1.8L turbo, will be Mini’s 1.5L 3-cyl. turbo, Alfa Romeo 4c’s 1.7L 4-cyl. turbo, Ford Fusion’s 1.6L turbo I-4 and 2.0L turbo-4s from Volvo, VW, Audi, Toyota, Subaru and Mini.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Car Review: 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Overview Three-door “coupe”
Pros Distinctive looks, likable character
Cons Suspension could be sportier
Value for money Has more standard features than many premium sedans

It’s been just over three years since Hyundai unveiled its Veloster, and yet it still looks as fresh as the day it debuted.

While obviously related to the Accent and Elantra, the Veloster is the most extreme example of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design ethos and one of the most original looking vehicles on the road today.

For 2014, the Veloster is largely unchanged – all models now come with LED driving lights, a backup camera system and driver’s blind spot mirror. Turbo models, such as this week’s tester, and those equipped with the Tech package, boast heated steering wheels and power adjustable lumbar support.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding the Veloster’s arrival, and given its radical styling, many were anticipating the birth of a brand-new hot hatch to go up against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Mini Cooper S or Ford Focus ST. Count me among those who were disappointed by their initial test drive – while I liked the Veloster well enough, what I really wanted … was to love it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it. On the contrary, the Veloster is a most agreeable little car, offering a lot of value, and decent fuel economy wrapped in a refreshingly creative design. But it was really hard for it to overcome the buildup preceding its arrival.

“The Veloster was never meant to be a hot hatch,” said Patrick Danielson of Hyundai Canada. Conceived as a playful, affordable coupe-slash-hatch to appeal to a younger demographic, the Veloster obviously resonated with the performance crowd, which, of course, immediately began clamouring for a high-performance version.

At the time, Hyundai was loath to confirm whether a hot hatch Veloster was in the works. But during a visit to the company’s Namyang Research and Development Centre in South Korea, a curious colleague and I wandered too close to a tarp-covered shape that we suspected was the rumoured-to-exist Turbo Veloster, unleashing an irate volley of Korean from the security guards.
The Veloster Turbo did indeed receive an injection of power, bringing its output to 201 horsepower from 138, but it was essentially the same vehicle as the non-aspirated model. While the base suspension was perfectly adequate for trundling around town, it was overwhelmed by any “spirited” driving.

There are no suspension upgrades on the Turbo for 2014 – for that you’ll have to opt for the Turbo R-Spec, a stripped down version with specifically tuned suspension and steering, a B&M short shifter, and all the outlandish design cues a boy-racer’s heart could desire.

Turbos and base models have the same front strut, and rather archaic torsion beam rear axle setup – which limits its athleticism considerably.

However, both the Turbo and R-Spec models now come with a torque vectoring control system called “Active Cornering Control”(ACC). Using the wheel-speed sensors and electronic stability control, ACC applies braking to the inside front wheel during hard cornering – driving the power to the outside front wheel for improved grip and quicker acceleration upon exit.

With its bright copper sheet metal, my coupe-meets-hatchback tester is funky enough to appeal to a younger demographic, but not so outrageous that a more “mature” driver would feel ridiculous in it. Courtesy of a blacked-out, hexagonal grille, side skirts and unique rear diffuser, the Turbo projects a more aggressive attitude than the base Veloster.

The playful design theme continues inside, with enough geometric shapes, splashes of colour, and technology to make a gamer feel right at home. Hyundai’s a perfect example of what creative minds can do with budget materials. Although there’s an abundance of cheap, hard plastics – there’s no shortage of shapes and textures and, overall, the atmosphere is lively and fun.

Of course, given its targeted demographic, the Veloster Turbo’s cabin is packed with technology. Standard is a backup camera, touchscreen navigation, Bluetooth, USB input and iPod connectivity. There’s an eight-speaker and a 450-watt sound system with a thumping subwoofer.

Turbo-embroidered sports seats are quite supportive and comfortable, and the driver’s seat is height adjustable.

The signature, asymmetrical third door makes clambering in and out much easier for rear passengers, but the raked roofline does cut into their headroom space.

For such a compact car, you can certainly stuff a lot of baggage into its rear boot. Cargo space is 440 litres, but that increases to 983 when the 60/40 split rear seats are dropped.

While it’s usually more engaging to operate a stick shift, rather than leaving it to an automatic transmission, swapping cogs on the Veloster Turbo really isn’t all that fulfilling. The clutch take up is vague and the shifter itself lacks the satisfying snickery of a true driver’s car. Without a modulated use of the gas pedal, the short first gear had me leaving stoplights with an embarrassing screech. But it certainly is forgiving. The neophyte driver will find this gearbox nearly impossible to stall.

Steering offers very little feedback, but is perfectly adequate for a little runabout. While the sporty body cladding and bright red Turbo badge scream “hot hatch”, its rather pedestrian suspension, and transmission geared for frugality say otherwise.

Drivers looking for genuine engagement would be better served by a Fiesta ST. However, the Veloster Turbo offers more features, and a lower price tag than competitors like the Mini Cooper S or Volkswagen GTI.

Personally, I’d forgo the Turbo in favour of a six-speed base model with Tech Package, an equally pleasant little vehicle that’s nearly $5,000 cheaper and easier on fuel.

The Specs:
Type of Vehicle Three-door coupe/hatchback
Engine 1.6-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder
Power 201 hp, 195 lb.-ft. of torque
Transmission Six-speed manual
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km) 8.4 city; 5.9 highway; 7.3 combined
Tires 215/40R 18
Price (base/as tested) $26,749/$28,589
Destination Charge $1,695
Standard features Push-button ignition, alloy pedals,18-in alloys, fog lights, Turbo-exclusive exterior features, twin circular exhaust outlets, height-adjustable driver seat heated leather, sport seats with Turbo embroidery, quicker steering ratio, two driver-information screens, Sirius/XM Radio,and an 8-speaker, 450-watt audio system. 18-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior accent lights, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a trip computer, a 7-in touchscreen (including a rearview camera), and iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) , Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Electronic Stability Control System (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hyundai Santa Fe MY15 Muscles Up With SR Model

The Hyundai Santa Fe SR has been unveiled featuring a tougher look and boasting improved on-road prowess.

This is the first SUV to wear Hyundai's fledgling SR badge, following in the tyre prints of the Veloster, i30 and Accent models.

Changes are primarily skin deep, although product planner Andrew Tuitahi points out that the changes mean the "Santa Fe SR looks, corners and stops harder".

Prices are yet to be announced before its arrival early next year, but the SR will be the hero of the MY15 Santa Fe range which has just been released.

The line-up has been tweaked with revised pricing, which has seen the base model stay at $38,490 while mid and top-spec variants have risen slightly.

Engineers overhauled the Santa Fe brakes to feature Brembo four-piston monobloc front calipers and two-piston rears. They pull the anchors on matt-black 19-inch alloys shod with Michelin Latitude Tour tyres.

Combined with H&R performance springs it results in stopping distance reduced by 8% from 60kmh, and an SUV with corners harder with and feels remarkably more nimble.

There are no diesel engine enhancements, and it won't get a dual exhaust system which we saw this week because it means dropping the full-size spare.

"For the Santa Fe SR we're sticking with the standard engine while offering unique, sportier styling, improved braking performance and higher-specification tyres," says Tuitahi.

"Combined, these attributes make a significant difference in terms of lateral grip and cornering, and so too do the springs in terms of feel and response.

"I think we've ticked a lot of the right boxes. In terms of sports SUVs, at our price point I don't think there are any direct competitors for this vehicle."

While we'll have to wait until 2015 for the SR, the latest updated Santa Fe models have already arrived.

Standard kit is still seven airbags, stability control and a host of associated safety technology, hill descent and ascent control, full-size spare, 10.9cm touch-screen, cruise control, auto lights, 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming and a reversing camera with parking sensors.

Elites now get an automatic tailgate, along with 18-inch alloys, stainless steel scuff plates, folding heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a larger touch-screen with sat nav and 10 speakers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather trim, a smart key with push-button start, climate control and a cooled glovebox.

Highlander have lane departure warning system and automatic parallel parking functionality added to the previous complimentary kit of 19-inch alloys, a panoramic glass roof, xenon headlights, LED rear lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, electric adjustment for the front seats, and heated front and second-row seats.

The SR will get a sports bodykit, Brembo brakes, H&R performance springs and Oz Racing wheels with Michelin tyres.

Model: Hyundai Santa Fe MY 15.

Details: Mid-size all-wheel seven-seat drive sports utility vehicle.

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 141kW @ 6300rpm and peak torque of 242Nm @ 4250rpm; 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating 145kW @ 3800rpm and 421Nm @ 1800-2500rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.0 litres/100km (petrol, auto and manual); 6.6L/100km (manual diesel); 7.3L/100km (auto diesel)
CO2: 209g/km (petrol models); 174g/km (diesel manual); 192g/km (diesel auto).

Towing capacity: 2500kg (m), 2000 (a), tow ball rating 100kg.

Bottom line: Petrol - Active (m) $38,490, Active (a) $40,990. Diesel - Active (m) $41,490, Active (a) $43,990, Elite (a) $48,490, Highlander (a) $53,240.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Hyundai Motor Company’s brand value continues to climb, reaching a new high as the 40th most valued global brand on Interbrand’s 15th annual 100 Best Global Brands Report. This year Hyundai’s brand value rose to $10.4 billion, a 16 percent increase. Since 2005, Hyundai has steadily increased its position on Interbrand’s list and now sits seventh among the top 14 automakers.

“We’re implementing a wide variety of brand-related activities that aren’t simply focused on increasing sales, but are aimed at becoming a brand that our customers genuinely love,” said Won Hong Cho, Hyundai Motor’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We will continue to invest in our brand, by providing Hyundai Motor’s unique premium experience in all aspects of the customer’s journey with our brand.”

In addition to the company’s focus on delivering high-value vehicles that offer the latest technology and safety features at a competitive price point, Hyundai also has aligned itself with some of the world’s leading events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and World Rally Championships.

Hyundai is one of the fastest growing automotive brands, in terms of both volume and brand value. At the heart of Hyundai's growth is its strategy to differentiate and increase relevance by creating customized products,” Interbrand said in a statement. “Hyundai's unique convenience features, from heated steering wheels and blind spot detection to lane departure warnings and smart cruise control, are now available across a broader range of vehicles to enhance the driving experience and customer satisfaction.”

Automotive brands have a strong presence on this year’s list making up a combined brand value of $211.9 billion. According to Interbrand, a combined focus on energy-efficient products and integrated technology is helping leading auto brands drive brand loyalty and value.