The Truth About Cars » korean car The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » korean car Junkyard Find: 2001 Hyundai XG300 Tue, 11 Feb 2014 14:00:27 +0000 14 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI admit I’ve got a sick fascination with luxury cars sold by companies not (at the time, in this market) known for luxury. There’s the Mitsubishi Diamante, of course, and the Mazda 929, and even the Volvo 262C Bertone (I’m still looking for a junked Daewoo Leganza, but either they don’t exist or— more likely— they fade into the junkyard background so perfectly that I never notice them). The Hyundai XG, well, that’s a perfect example of the “who’s laughing now?” phenomenon; just a decade ago, we all chortled at the idea of a Korean luxury sedan selling in the United States. Today, German and Japanese car-industry execs wake up screaming from Hyundai-themed nightmares. So, that makes today’s Junkyard Find of great historical significance (to me and maybe a dozen others).
17 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe XG was a Hyundai Grandeur, which started life as a rebadged Mitsubishi Debonair but had become an all-Hyundai machine by the time of the XG. Not a bad-looking car at all, but American car shoppers didn’t have a good reason to buy it.

Perhaps some Korean-style TV ads might have boosted sales on this side of the Pacific.

It would have been hard to replicate the macho-yet-restrained voiceovers that make Korean car ads so great, though.
07 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlus, there was the fact that you could buy an Infiniti or Lexus with a V8 and rear-wheel-drive, or even a Cadillac with a front-drive V8. The 189-horse Sigma V6 failed to impress American car shoppers.
03 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve never been inside a moving XG, but Hyundai was building pretty good cars by the dawn of the current century (in amazingly stark contrast to the car that made the Yugo GV seem reliable barely a decade earlier) and I’ll bet these cars were very comfortable and held together well for the price.
05 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow much? The MSRP on the base XG300 was $23,499 (about 31 grand in 2013 bucks), which was less than half that of the $48,895 Infiniti Q45. Sure, a fairer comparison would be with the Camry-based, front-wheel-drive/V6-powered Lexus ES300… which had a $31,505 price tag in 2001.
01 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

01 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 71
Hyundai Generation Why Intramural League, First Place: 2013 Elantra GT Thu, 28 Jun 2012 17:16:54 +0000

I may occassionally mock the enthusiast infatuation with wagons and hatchbacks, it’s only because they’re not such a big deal to me. Two-box compact and midsize cars (not crossovers or SUVs) are everywhere in my locale, to the point where they go unnoticed. But this is one worth getting excited about.

The Elantra Sedan and Coupe are nice vehicles, but driving one is like listening to Tyler Cowen talk about sex.Driving the Elantra GT elicits the same kind of titilation that women must feel when reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Not that I’d know…

The basic guts of the Elantra GT are shared with its two siblings, including the solid axle rear suspension, but the whole package works so much more proficiently in the GT than the other two cars – like how Khloe and Kim Kardashian come from the same lineage despite their wildly different physiques. While the other two cars resist being pushed hard (and don’t really prod the driver to do so), the Elantra GT is as comfortable motoring down the freeway as it is being grabbed by the scruff of its neck.

Hyundai had us drive the Elantra GT up and down a 5000 foot mountain pass, which did a good job of exposing both the highlights and the flaws that live within the car. The biggest impediment to going fast is the strange gap between second and third gear, no doubt a concession towards fuel economy. Running up and down the mountain at a spirited pace meant the car was often close to the rev limited in second. An upshift to third would bring the engine way out of the powerband, sapping whatever precious momentum we could extract out of the Elantra GT and its 148 horsepower 4-banger.

If you’re willing to keep it in second and let the revs fly, the Elantra GT is immensely rewarding. The chassis is responsive in a way that the Veloster and Elantra Coupe could only dream of. The brakes remained firm fade free during the whole route and the chassis inspires a ton of confidence, allowing you to push the car harder than the other two Hyundais driven that week. The steering, long a sore spot for the Koreans, is much crisper than any front-drive Hyundai vehicle in recent memory.

There was a lot of hoopla over the Driver Selectable Steering Mode, a steering wheel mounted button that lets you adjust the weight and resistance of the electric power steering. Many of my program participants insisted that the Sport mode (which did feel great) was the only way to go. There is a noticeable difference in weight between Comfort, Normal and Sport, but feedback remains the same no matter what. It’s ultimately a gimmick, though one that makes the driving experience better. It still can’t quite match the Mazda3 in sheer driving pleasure; the steering is just a little bit duller, the chassis slightly less enthusiastic (even though the Hyundai is 150 lbs lighter). But there are other benefits that make the Elantra GT a serious contender.

The Elantra GT is an elegant, mature looking vehicle without being dowdy. The Mazda3 looks absolutely heinous. Despite its many charms, the Mazda’s looks are enough to dissuade me from owning. The interior of the Elantra GT is also a much more pleasant place to be, with higher quality materials and a much more sophisticated design, which also manages to avoid being overly complex. The rear seats fold completely flat like a minivan, and the back seat is more spacious than one would expect.  Up and down the mountain pass, with elevations reaching 5000 feet, the Elantra GT could handle whatever was dished out. Mid-corner bumps were absorbed gently without upsetting the car, and the brakes felt consistently strong despite substantial use. It was genuinely a joy to drive, despite being saddled with a gearbox that doesn’t flatter the engine’s modest output. The chassis is the real star of the show here, giving the driver lots of feedback, a high threshold for mistakes and the feeling that you’re going much faster than you really are.

Our tester was the $21, 145 Elantra GT equipped with the Style Package., The extra $2,750 nets you a large panoramic roof, leather seats, a power driver’s seat, 17-inch wheels and interestingly, stiffer rear springs. There were only a couple of base model Elantra GTs available at the event, so it was impossible to tell how much of an effect the Style Package has on handling.

Although the Elantra GT was sampled before the Veloster Turbo, not even the extra power and the supposedly sporty nature of the boosted hatch was enough to sway the decision.

It would be foolish to think that the Elantra GT will turn the tide on hatchback sales in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that Hyundai’s offering is any less competitive than the Focus, Mazda3 or even the Volkswagen Golf – which the Czech-built Elantra GT is arguably closest to in terms of overall character.

The Elantra GT wins not just on performance, but by offering an affordable yet mature looking proposition that works anywhere, whether it’s a golf game with someone important, a first date or hauling mountain bikes or skis. There are no extra options, engines or equipment packages needed to extract maximum fuel economy, and even though it’s a great value, you never feel like you’ve compromised on your vehicle due to your budget restrictions. The sedan and coupe versions should be this good.

N.B. our tester was black and the photos came out quite poorly. Hence the use of press photos.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai MY13_ElantraGT_30 MY13_ElantraGT_29 MY13_ElantraGT_28 MY13_ElantraGT_27 MY13_ElantraGT_26 MY13_ElantraGT_11 MY13_ElantraGT_10 MY13_ElantraGT_04 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Photo courtesy Hyundai.



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Hyundai Generation Why Intramural League, Second Place: 2013 Veloster Turbo Wed, 27 Jun 2012 17:05:12 +0000  

“If you want a Veloster Turbo, you can buy one right now – it’s called the Genesis Coupe.”

That’s what Hyundai CEO John Krafcik told us at the launch of the Veloster last year, when asked about the possibility of a performance version of Hyundai’s distinctive-looking hatchback. Less than a year later, we have a boosted Veloster and a Genesis Coupe that’s better than ever.

The original Veloster was heralded as the return of the Honda CRX, but it failed to capture the ethereal magic of the lightweight, two-seat Honda hatchback. The Veloster, meant to be a do-it-all car for the generation that doesn’t like cars, has a rear seat, a strange third-door, oddball styling and an emphasis on gas mileage and green credentials. The CRX put performance first, and its miserly fuel consumption just happened to be a byproduct of its tin-can construction.

The Veloster Turbo, with its 201 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, is supposed to go up against cars like the Fiat 500 Abarth, Mini Cooper S and Volkswagen GTI, hot hatches with serious pedigree and the dynamic chops to back up their “branding”. The Veloster Turbo isn’t a real competitor for any of these; instead, it’s the car that I wish the Veloster was from the start.

Aside from the new engine, there’s not too many changes versus the base car. The front fascia is more aggressive and mitigates some of the car’s goofy asthetics. The chassis is apparently unchanged, though the steering feels quicker and better weighted. One notable omission is the dual-clutch gearbox, which wasn’t able to handle the added torque of the boosted motor. In its place is a six-speed automatic transmission.

The day began behind the wheel of a two-pedal car, down the undulating, up-and-down roads of a part of California best known for being close to Mexico. The biggest standout here was that the automatic is an exceptionally poor bit of equipment. Everything feels delayed and lethargic, likely due to its bias towards fuel economy. Using the paddle shifters for spirited driving isn’t much of a held either, since they revert back to full-automatic mode and upshift so quickly that the driver must constantly engage them to keep up any sort pace. Then again, the dual clutch in the Veloster isn’t anything special either.

A switch to the manual transmission happened at the earliest possible moment. Deciding on the shift points yourself yields a more positive view of the powertrain. The 6-speed manual isn’t a class leader in terms of shift feel, but it does allow a greater appreciation of the 1.6L engine. For a turbo engine, it feels very linear, with a strong pull through the rev range. It’s less boisterous than say, the Cooper S, but for the target market, it will go down much smoother.

While the ride is much smoother than the Cooper S, the Veloster Turbo doesn’t have the sophistication of the GTI either. Hyundai claims that the chassis settings are the same as the base car, but the overall effect is that the ride and handling emulate what people think “sporty” should be (jittery and stiff) rather than providing a supple, well-controlled ride and engaging handling. Turning up the heat on the Veloster Turbo is rewarding, and it feels easy to drive quickly, but ultimately, this is a more powerful version of the Veloster, rather than a serious hot hatch. It has nothing to do with the lack of an independent rear suspension, or a missing limited slip or any of the other mortal sins in the eyes of auto journalists.

Hyundai knows that the target market for this car will be more concerned with the Pandora integration, the ability to hook up an Xbox and play it using the in-dash screen and the optional matte gray paint, that looks really cool but needs its own care regimen. The Veloster Turbo is a fairly shrewd move on the part of Hyundai; for the target buyer, it will feel “fast”, look cool (or at least distinctive) and deliver on the Veloster’s original mission of being practical, distinctive and efficient.

The Veloster Turbo starts at $21,950 and tops out at $24,450 when equipped with the lone option package that adds a backup camera, rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, a 115-volt power outlet and automatic headlights. The automatic transmission and matte gray paint each cost another $1,000. At that price point, I’d have to pass in favor of something with more performance, even at the expense of fewer gadgets and more fuel consumption. Something that can be hand in the same showroom as the Veloster Turbo. But for Veloster buyers (who seem to span a broad range of ages, based on marketing data I’ve seen), the Turbo will be an easy upsell over the base car, which starts in the $18,000 range. The biggest issue for me is that Hyundai offers something that is genuinely great to drive, is practical, efficient and doesn’t look like your first new car after graduating from college.

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Hyundai Gen Why Intramural League, Third Place: 2012 Elantra Coupe Fri, 22 Jun 2012 14:30:28 +0000

This is the first installment of a three-part series on Hyundai’s three newest offerings, the Elantra Coupe, Elantra GT and Veloster Turbo.

As I casually sauntered over to the gunmetal Elantra GT, I my mind began to ponder Jack’s piece on the Lamborghini and the politics of masculinity, until a Hyundai PR rep stopped me in mid-daydream. “Oh, you guys are driving the Elantra Coupe this morning.”

How fitting. The compact coupe. The chick car par excellence. Favored by grade school administrators and recent divorcees, with a rich lineage dating back to the Mercury Cougar (the front-drive version), the third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Nissan 240SX (yes, it skewed predominantly female in the pre-drifting era).

The Elantra Coupe finishes third not because it’s a bad car, but because it’s just less desirable and less fun than the other two cars here.  While Mercedes made the coupe version of the S-Class (the CL) look extremely elegant and attractive, Hyundai’s coupe looks like a shortened Elantra – not a bad thing, since the Elantra is already a pretty attractive car.

Under the skin, it’s the same thing, too. Same chassis, same 148 horsepower 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, though there are a couple unique bits, such as a revised electric power steering system and a unique rear suspension setup with an integrated swaybar. Interior dimensions remain largely the same, save for a bit of a reduction in rear headroom.

Our drive route took place along mostly arterial roads, with a few twisties thrown in to help us get a taste of the Elantra Coupe’s capabilities. There’s a reason for the heavy bias towards normal driving; the Coupe ain’t sporty. There’s a fair amount of body roll, the steering is heavier but doesn’t really provide much feedback and whatever responsiveness that’s built into the engine is sacrificed at the altar of fuel efficiency – tall gearing helps it get that coveted 40 mpg highway rating. The clutch and shifter are nothing to write home about either. To its credit, the Elantra Coupe has a lot of well thought out elements, but none of them have to do with driving. Things like Bluetooth, and heated seats are standard. The center console is very intuitive, with Hyundai avoiding the “button explosion” issue that plagues cars like the Chevrolet Cruze. There are cup holders and storage compartments everywhere. And that’s all on the $17,745 GS trim level, which serves as the base model. At $23,095 fully loaded with Navigation and automatic transmission, the Elantra Coupe Technology Package has all the “premium” features one might ever want.

Hyundai is honest about the Elantra’s mission as a mainstream, rather than a performance car, but their positioning may need to be tweaked. Ostensibly aimed at Gen Y customers, the Elantra Coupe will likely fall into the same trap that snared the Scion xB and Honda Element (and apparently, the Veloster, which has its fair share of buyers that could be the parents of Generation Y customers). They will be snapped up by a more mature crowd, looking for a swoopy, youthful two-door that’s easy to get in and out of, won’t beat them up on the way to work and most of all but has neither the boy-racer stigma nor the inherent compromises of a real sporty 2-door. According to Hyundai, they are considering a performance-oriented version of this car. They said it wouldn’t happen with the Veloster, but a year later, they did introduce a turbo version. Right now though, think of this car as a Celica GT or a Saturn Ion Coupe for the second decade of the 21st century.

Gen Y on the other hand, doesn’t have such a favorable view of coupes. A 3-Series or a Mustang gets a pass, but for many of us, sedans can have their own prestige too. We may not have grown up riding in Dad’s “personal luxury coupe” – our contemporary, well-to-do father figure likely had some kind of 4-door Japanese sedan that coddled its passengers and let the driver have some fun as well. Look at the demise of the Monte Carlo and Impala-dominated lowrider movement and the birth of the “VIP car” scene if you need further proof. An Elantra sedan may very well be an acceptable vehicle to Gen Y’s sensibilities, since 4-doors don’t carry that kind of stigma. If anything, the two-doors might be viewed as a try-hard, perpetual-bachelor type of vehicle, if memories of the Ford Probe and third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse still linger.

The Elantra Coupe will be a very appealing product for an undeserved but prominent market segment, that still likes the idea of owning a 2-door car, but wants some comfort, convenience and efficiency. They may be underwhelmed with their Civic Coupe, looking to get rid of their aging Celica GT or hoping to downsize from their Altima. They won’t be in my cohort.

Hyundai provided flight, accomodations, meals and press vehicles. Thanks to Morgan Segal for augmenting my own crappy photos with his stock photography.

Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai MY13_ElantraCoupe_29 MY13_ElantraCoupe_30 MY13_ElantraCoupe_31 MY13_ElantraCoupe_32 MY13_ElantraCoupe_33 Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai MY13_ElantraCoupe_38 MY13_ElantraCoupe_04 MY13_ElantraCoupe_05 MY13_ElantraCoupe_06 MY13_ElantraCoupe_07 MY13_ElantraCoupe_08 MY13_ElantraCoupe_09 MY13_ElantraCoupe_10 MY13_ElantraCoupe_11 MY13_ElantraCoupe_12 MY13_ElantraCoupe_13 MY13_ElantraCoupe_14 MY13_ElantraCoupe_15 MY13_ElantraCoupe_16 Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai Hyundai 002 003 004 005 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail



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Capsule Review: 2012 Hyundai Equus Ultimate Thu, 16 Feb 2012 14:16:28 +0000

At $66,900 the 2012 Hyundai Equus is the most expensive Korean car I’ve ever driven.

Having driven a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe during my college years (and subsequent Hyundai products as part of my professional duties), I’ve seen first hand the progression of their products from plausible alternative to Japanese and American products to a purchase that one can be proud of. Considering that a decade ago my parents had a Kia Sedona – a lumbering hippopotamus of a car with an interior that Geely would find embarrassing – the progression of Korean cars is even more impressive.

We all know the “story” (to use a dreadful marketing term) of the Equus: It represents Hyundai’s attempt at a truly premium car outside of Korea and it comes with a free iPad. Comparisons to European luxury cars have been made by other outlets, but to paraphrase Katt Williams, “yeah, it do look like a Bentley…until a Bentley pull up.” Nevertheless, if God blessed you with a Hyundai Equus, you’re doing just fine.

For 2012, the Equus gets Hyundai’s Tau V8, displacing 5.0L and putting out 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. Does it feel appreciably different than the 2011 model’s 4.6L Tau V8 that made 385 horsepower and 333 lb-ft? Not at all. I got the chance to drive the Genesis sedan with both the Tau 5.0 and the Lambda V6 that made 333 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque back-to-back in June of 2011 and I couldn’t even tell the difference there.

Equus owners will feel the same way about 0-60 times as hedge fund king Steven A. Cohen feels about paying $100,000 for a dead shark carcass – both figures are “inconsequential”. The Equus lets one simply waft down the road in near silence. Stepping on the accelerator to unleash all 429 horsepower would simply be vulgar and unseemly in our Equus Ultimate Edition, which came in a four-seat configuration clearly developed with the sole purpose of ferrying South Korean chaebol executives around Seoul while completely isolating them from the outside world. Like the Town Car Signature L, the front passenger seat can be moved forward and titled forward 45 degrees via controls on the passenger seat and on the rear center console itself. A power collapsible footrest for the rear seats can also be summoned, allowing for a Business Class-like experience for the rear seat passenger.

Fortune’s cruel machinations meant that I didn’t have a driving partner for the one car where I would rather be driven in, in the style of Freiherr Schmitt. Instead, I drove a freeway loop as well as along the Las Vegas strip in near silence, as the Equus filtered out everything else occurring in the outside world. The car soaks up the bumps, has plenty of power and the typical numb Korean steering and slightly spongy brakes are also present. Some have criticized the navigation and stereo system menus for being overly complex, but I had no problem operating either function, including while driving.

Where the Equus falls short is feeling like a truly “premium” car. Everything inside, from the knobs to the dash materials to the gauges, felt like an improved version of the switch gear, plastics and leather in my Santa Fe. That’s fine for a $40,000 Genesis, but on a nearly $70,000 ultra-luxury car, it’s not going to hold up. Sure, it’s not necessarily a “bad” interior, but a 2012 Audi A8 carries a $11,850 price premium and has a cabin that utterly shames the Equus in terms of visual and tactile appeal, not to mention all-wheel drive and massive snob appeal.

The peerless ride quality, middling interior quality and most of all, the understated aesthetics brings to mind the now departed Town Car. It wasn’t the flashiest, best built or most advanced luxury car on the market, but if you ever saw a black Town Car outside a fancy department store, expensive restaurant or government office, you knew that somebody important was nearby. Ford and Cadillac have put forth some poor replacements for the Town Car in an attempt to capture its livery car customers, but I think the Equus would not only excel in this field, but also offer a viable luxury option for the quietly affluent – the sort who would have eschewed the opulent European offerings for a Town Car in the first place.

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