Hyundai Motor’s flagship full-size sedan Grandeur has been positioned as a luxurious car for the older generation and those of high social status in their late 40s and 50s in Korea.
But with the New Grandeur, the automaker has transformed itself, seeking to target those in their early 40s and encourage the older generation to seek a bold and sporty image in their cars, even threatening the market for the new Sonata and affiliate Kia Motors’ steady-selling K7 sedan.
The Korea Herald had a chance to drive the New Grandeur’s highest trim 3.3-liter gasoline Calligraphy model on a 120-kilometer route in a circuit from Ilsan to Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province.
The New Grandeur
There was plenty of assistance tech onboard. From highway driving assist to parking collision-avoidance assist, blind spot monitoring and remote smart parking assist. Driving the car felt more like testing out a new high-tech toy -- only better due to its certified safety. The lane-keeping assist warning and forward collision warning systems were very sensitive, though the function to bring the car back on lane did not feel so strong.
For the first time, the automaker has added a forward collision-avoidance assist-junction turning function.
Driving was smooth and easy. When changing gears with the electronic gear selector -- as the traditional knob was replaced with a sleeker button-type -- I could feel no engine-related disturbance.
But when accelerating, there were minor hiccups, although the acceleration was swift. There was some road noise seeping into the cabin, but turbulence was kept at a minimum level.
Looking at the exterior, it was instantly noticeable that Hyundai Motor has applied an integrated type and frameless front radiator grille with a new checkered pattern -- a “parametric jewel.” Such a design was showcased during the Geneva Motor Show in March, via its concept car Le Fil Rouge, giving it a much younger and more luxurious look than the predecessor model.
The automaker has also made the front grille cover the majority of the front section, placing dark-tinted headlamps on side. The hidden lights -- daytime running lamps -- look like part of the front grille when turned off, in what’s becoming a new signature for Hyundai cars.
Compared with the 2016 version of the Grandeur, the new model’s body is 60 millimeters longer, measuring 4,990 millimeters, while the wheelbase is 40 millimeters longer. This offers more spacious passenger seats in the back. But because it retains its coupe-like frame, the headroom is not so generous.
Hyundai Motor’s drastic design change to the car was mostly motivated by the elevating competition with peer sedans.
In July, the automaker’s sister company Kia Motors began sales of a face-lifted K7, significantly outselling the Grandeur. Hyundai Motor’s New Sonata, unveiled in March under the automaker’s “sensuous sportiness” concept, was also a challenger to the Grandeur.
Reentry into the North American market, too, was another driving factor for the transformation.
The Grandeur was sold in the North American market under the name Azera, but the automaker officially withdrew it in 2017 due to low sales.
But in March last year, the automaker registered the name Grandeur as a trademark in the US, hinting at a reentry.
Nothing has yet been decided on exporting the New Grandeur, an official of Hyundai Motor told The Korea Herald.
The upgraded New Grandeur comes with four engines options: 2.5-liter gasoline, 3.3 gasoline, 2.4 gasoline hybrid and 3.0 liquefied petroleum injected engine.
The starting price begins from 33 million won ($28,000) and extends up to 37 million won depending on options. Hyundai Motor said it received 32,179 preorders in an 11-day period.
By Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)