Of all the newish car manufacturing kids on the
block, Hyundai is taking the biggest strides in the Australian market. The Getz
is a good small car, the Tucson highly competent and the Sonata – especially in
V6 form – outstanding value for money. So it was with some anticipation that we
stepped into the Grandeur, a brand new replacement for the car that back in
January 2000 we characterised as having the suspension control of a ship...
In the showroom the new Grandeur looks a very
different beast to the old. The car has LED rear lights, huge 235/55 tyres on
17-inch alloys, rear styling that takes more than a glance at recent BMWs, and
proportions that hint at the large amount of interior space. Step inside and
you’ll see leather, a sophisticated sound system, eight(!) airbags and niceties
on the tested Limited that include an electrically-operated rear blind, a glass
tilt/slide sunroof, heated front seats and xenon headlights with auto
The spec list is – if anything – even more
impressive than the visuals. The engine is a 3.8 litre version of the Sonata’s
V6 and pumps out no less than 194kW at 6000 rpm and 348Nm at 4500 rpm. And it
does it on normal unleaded fuel! Bolted to the engine is a 5-speed auto that
puts power down through front double wishbone suspension. Rear suspension is
also by double wishbones and German Sachs dampers are used front and rear. Even
the brakes are large with 303mm vented front discs and 284 solid rears, with of
course ABS and electronic brake force distribution. Stability control is
But cars – especially in this $47,000 bracket –
are made up of much more than just their specs, equipment level and appearance.
And on the road the Grandeur is simply not a convincing package. The best aspect
is the engine – it’s not hugely torquey down low but with the revs up, has
spirited performance and is strong enough everywhere to make the Grandeur a
quick car. Hyundai claim a 0-100 km/h time of 7.2 seconds and standing 400m of
just 15.1 seconds – and both times are quite believable. Fuel economy on test
varied substantially depending on how the car was driven, with an overall figure
that included a lot of gentle country road touring of 11.4 litres/100 km. The
official test figure is 10.8 litres/100km.
So the engine’s fine but oh, the ride and
handling.... how is it possible to make such a mishmash of it?
On smooth highways the ride is fine but get the
car away from that environment – whether at low speeds in urban conditions or on
country secondary roads at 100 km/h – and it’s poor. “Jiggly” and “inconsistent”
are two terms that come to mind. Ironically, considering the characteristics of
the previous model, over speed humps the Grandeur is competent but in other
regards the car simply doesn’t have the ride comfort required in this class.
And that poor ride is not present in order to give
good handling – around corners the Grandeur is startlingly bad.
Go in too hard and the car washes into plough
understeer. Get off the loud pedal abruptly and then there’s a heap of oversteer
– a very rapid transition indeed. And this is with the stability control
switched on.... On dirt roads the Grandeur is so slippery we’re sure that none of
the engineers who developed the suspension ever drove on that surface.
You need to remember that this is a fast car, one
where overtaking moves can be completed very rapidly and it’s not hard to arrive
at country road corners travelling quickly. And even when keeping well within
the limits of grip, both can be downers because the steering kicks back
violently over mid-corner bumps...
The thought of trying to pass a road train on an
outback highway, two wheels by necessity on the dirt and two on the bitumen,
foot down hard to reel in the three trailers... well, that’s not a thought but a
Within the context of a car with a bad suspension
set-up, the stability control does a good job; however, it operates far more
often than it should and sometimes even the electronic braking of individual
wheels and reduction of power cannot achieve composure. However, the traction
control is quite effective - even in wet conditions, the power isn’t killed-off
and the car can still accelerate strongly. (But switch off the system and the
wheel tramping under power is enormous... another indication that the suspension
basics are not right.) Torque steer is well subdued but – perhaps it’s the
corollary – the steering lacks feedback and is rather dead around centre.
We’d suggest that even a driver who is extremely
conservative will at same stage or another experience steering kickback and
require major intervention from the stability control system. A sporting driver
will – well, if you’re sporting driver, don’t even consider this car.
The interior also has some downers. Rear room is
excellent in all directions except headroom but to an extent that’s gained at
the expense of front room. In the context of many cars there’s a heap of space
everywhere, but compared with the local Falcons and Commodores, there’s not
quite the same feeling of a vast amount of room. The front and rear doors open
very wide. Lots of coarse grained plastic is used across the dash and with the
doors shut, the gap between the ends of the dashboard and the door trims
substantially varies in width. The lid over a centre dash storage pocket opens
with a damped, smooth motion – but shuts with a clang – and we always had to
check that the boot lid was actually shut because its closure produces an odd
double sound. However, the doors shut beautifully. At 469 litres, the boot is
large and has a decently-sized opening. It’s also fully trimmed (even the hinges
disappear into trim) and the rear seat split-folds.
The MP3-compatible in-dash 6-cd radio tape player
is good in class (it uses Infinity speakers including a separate sub-woofer) and
the climate control is effective. The driver’s seat uses a 10-way power system
(passenger’s is 4-way power) and includes three memories that also set the
external mirrors and steering wheel adjustment. Apart from the speedo that
needlessly reads to 260 km/h - and so as a result has graduations overly close
together - the instruments and controls are clear and easily used.
Apart from an odd whine at high revs, the engine
can barely be heard: NVH is very good, if not the best in class. However, in the
test car the sunroof rattled when popped up – irritating when the cabin was
otherwise so quiet.
Despite its excellent performance, competent fuel
economy and generous equipment level, we do not recommend the Grandeur. Even
though it’s one-third more expensive than the V6 Sonata, we don’t think it’s a
Grandeur Limited was provided for this test by Hyundai.
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