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Hyundai PHL continues to look up


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A new three-row MPV aspires to corner a hefty share of the segment

TO SELL 500 units a month: That’s the stated goal of Hyundai Motor Philippines (HMPH) for its Stargazer multipurpose vehicle (MPV). Formally launched to the media last Tuesday, the model went on sale last Nov. 9 — made available across the 39 HMPH dealerships.

“(Five hundred) will be the minimum,” confidently declared HMPH President Dong Wook Lee to this writer after the official unveiling of the model. “It depends on the customer demand, and we can provide more if needed.”

The Stargazers will be coming from Indonesia and, amid continuing global supply chain and chips supply challenges, the local distributor remains confident that there will be units to sate the numbers it is projecting. “During the last four years, we prepared our new MPV; now the Indonesia factory will provide the cars. I say, no problem,” underscored Mr. Lee.

In an earlier speech, the executive had described the country’s MPV category as “highly competitive,” and that it “excites and challenges (Hyundai) to reinvent and set new benchmarks.” Understandably, he expressed bullishness in the prospects of the Stargazer — summarizing its value propositions thus: “futuristic styling, premium comfort, and advanced safety.”

He added, “It has a class-leading wheelbase, and practical storage spaces, (and its) smart technologies are second to none.”

For his part, HMPH Managing Director Cecil Capacete said that the Stargazer was designed “specifically with the ASEAN market in mind, so customers can be assured that it is built to withstand our tropical climate and varying road conditions.”

The vehicle model certainly needs to be a formidable, convincing sell in a promising, though hotly contested segment. The three-row, seven-seater is expected to duke it out with the likes of more established players here — including the Toyota Avanza, Mitsubishi Xpander, Suzuki Ertiga (and XL7), and the recently launched Nissan Livina.

The Stargazer made its world debut in the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIS) in Jakarta last August, and is clearly cut from the same cloth as its larger sibling, the Staria. HMPH previously said in a release that the Stargazer’s elements in the styling are supposed to call to mind the brand’s “pioneering spirit,” particularly in the “boldly styled skid plate, flush-type radiator grille, and unique multi-face reflector (MFR) headlights.”

Perhaps the most striking of its front fascia features is a horizontal LED strip running above the grille. This integrates both daytime running lamps and positioning lights.

Three trims are available, priced as follows: 1.5 GL IVT (P998,000), 1.5 GLS IVT (P1.128 million), and 1.5 GLS Premium IVT (P1.218 million). Mr. Lee told “Velocity” that the company is confident about its pricing — particularly since even the most affordable variant offers Hyundai’s proprietary Intelligent Variable Transmission (or IVT, its version of a CVT), mated to a gasoline-sipping 1.5-liter Smartstream engine. The naturally aspirated engine musters a maximum of 113hp at 6,300rpm and 144Nm of torque at 4,500rpm.

The IVT is said to be configured to “shift gears more responsively with less delay or lag resulting to a smoother and more enjoyable ride while having better fuel economy.” The Hyundai Smartstream engine, on the other hand, promises “optimal airflow, heat and friction control, more effective combustion, and reduced exhaust that better regulate gasoline consumption.”

The silhouette of the Stargazer bears what is called a one-curve styling — giving it a futuristic look and enhancing aerodynamics. Hyundai also points to the MPV’s 2,780mm wheelbase, which surpasses its class rivals, and shorter overhangs. This quality is harnessed in making the cabin roomier. In tandem, the company worked on assuring high visibility in aid of a “sense of openness” and, of course, safety when driving. A PVC-fitted delta glass lies past the A-pillar, while a quarter glass is fitted near the rear of the vehicle. Speaking of the rear, one can glean an H-shape even as the styling consistently purveys a futuristic vibe. As with the front, a light strip spans the width of the rear fascia.

Another noteworthy (and practical) quality that MPV browsers will surely appreciate are a multitude of storage spaces and cubbyholes. All told, the Stargazer gets 31 of them in the dashboard, center console, seats, and door trims. “Notable ones (are) the ledge beneath the front air vents for essential small items, a transferrable cup holder guide at the center for varying beverage container sizes, front row seatback table and pockets for snacks, booklets or documents, and the luggage board that can be opened to better organize trunk items,” reported Hyundai.

The Stargazer ditches analog instrumentation in favor of a 4.2-inch TFT-LCD cluster which features a tachometer, speedometer, fuel indicator, tire pressure monitor, and other indicators. The screen’s hue and look also changes with the selection of any of four drive modes (Eco, Smart, Comfort, and Sport). Additionally, an eight-inch touchscreen display hosts the infotainment system, and features compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Two device holders and six chargers (including a wireless power charger below the main AC panel) satisfy mobile gadget needs.

In the area of safety, Hyundai boasts that the Stargazer is “unmatched in the market.” A rigid chassis is made of high-strength steel that minimizes deformation in case of a collision. A six-air bag system adds another layer of safety. This shell of protection is topped off by Hyundai SmartSense, the brand’s suite of driver assistance systems designed to keep both passengers and pedestrians safe. Among the features are Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind-spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Warning, Driver Attention Warning, High Beam Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Rear Cross-traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Reverse Parking Distance Warning, and Rearview Monitor.

The new Hyundai Stargazer is also bundled with a five-year/200,000-km (whichever comes first) warranty and is available in Creamy White Pearl, Magnetic Silver Metallic, Dragon Red Pearl, and Midnight Black Pearl.

And HMPH isn’t done for the year just yet, according to Mr. Lee. We expect the company to formally launch the all-electric Ioniq 5 before Christmas. The model was teased to the public at the Philippine International Motor Show last September. Units are expected to arrive by January next year though.

One thing’s clear: The Hyundai resurgence is in full swing.