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Hyundai enters luxury market

 

The 2005 Grandeur

Hyundai is out to carve itself a slice of the New Zealand executive car market with a new version of the previously rather lack-lustre Grandeur. But the new car is new-generation Hyundai, one of a breed that is fast closing the gap between it and Japanese and Australian rivals, and redefining the Korean car maker’s image.
The new Grandeur is well-equipped, has real on-road presence, and at $52,490, offers outstanding value for money. Hyundai NZ chief executive Philip Eustace admits the executive car market is new territory for his company, and you sense a certain nervousness that, after driving the car, seems unfounded. Eustace says Hyundai NZ is pitching the Grandeur against high-end Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore models and V6-powered Japanese luxury cars.
The first seems too tall an order. The Japanese companies have all tilted at the Falcon/Commodore windmill and come off second-best. Nissan admits its Maxima’s real rivals are Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi equivalents, and at the launch of its (slow-selling) 380, Mitsubishi said it no longer saw the Aussie sedans as the opposition. Ford and Holden drivers are well-entrenched and will never surrender their cars’ rear-wheel drive feel for a front-drive sedan. Still, Eustace says his car offers “a level of refinement that is unequalled in its price band”.
He is targeting sales of 15 to 20 a month, levels that would seem reachable. The key will be getting potential customers into the driver’s seat of a Hyundai with a $53,000 pricetag, and overcoming the notion that Korean cars are cheap and cheaply furnished. “We hope we’ll achieve (that sales target),” Eustace says. “It’s the first car we’ve had in the market at more than $50,000.
“(With the Grandeur) we’re pushing the boundaries of the perception of the brand, but that perception is changing every day.”
Hyundai NZ is comparing the Grandeur with the now discontinued Lexus ES300, a car that sold for roughly $30,000 more; and there are striking similarities between the two, in the way the cars are furnished and in their quietness, refinement and on-road behaviour.

Grandeur in detail

A purpose built 3.8-litre V6 powers the Grandeur which is the fastest Hyundai yet, offering 0 to 100km/h acceleration in 7.2 seconds.
Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, and an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat with an Integrated Memory System (IMS) that memorises two driving positions and adjusts steering wheel setting, seat configuration and even exterior mirror positioning.
It also has dual zone climate control air conditioning and automatic wipers.
The exterior mirrors tilt when the car reverses, and the Grandeur has an MP3 compatible six-disc CD sound system with eight Infinity speakers and an eight-inch subwoofer.
The 194kW 3.8-litre V6 drives the front wheels through a five-speed transmission that offers an optional manual shift mode. An Electronic Stability Program is standard, along with ABS braking and Traction Control Systems (TCS). The Grandeur’s computer designed passenger cell is fitted with eight airbags and active head restraints.


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