Hyundai Motor Co.'s new Grandeur diesel aims to raise the bar for refinement in South Korea's car market by introducing class-leading sound insulation with practical fuel economy, the automaker said Wednesday.
In a 163-kilometer-long test drive event arranged for the local media, which included a drive through the Songdo City Racing Circuit, South Korea's No. 1 carmaker said the large, near-luxury sedan was designed from the outset to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), and give occupants a smooth, quiet and refined ride. The car will also herald Hyundai's foray into the diesel powertrain race triggered by German automakers.
The Grandeur diesel is the country's first large sedan powered by a diesel engine and unveiled in late May at the Busan International Motor Show. Hyundai Motor said the car targets consumers in their 30s and 40s who want low maintenance costs, and may have been drawn to German carmakers like Volkswagen. Volkswagen and other German carmakers such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz have grabbed a progressively larger market share over the years by introducing fuel efficient diesel mills. Diesel engines tend to be 20 percent to 30 percent more fuel efficient than their gasoline counterparts.
"We have carefully listened to the demands of consumers in designing the Grandeur, along with market trends and the need to counter imports," Kim Sang-dae, director of Hyundai's domestic marketing team, said.
The executive also said that the R2.2-liter e-variable-geometry turbo-charged engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox is Hyundai's first "clean diesel" engine that fully meets stringent EURO 6 emissions standards.
Kim added that with the launch of the Grandeur diesel, Hyundai is proclaiming its full-fledged entry into the diesel engine vehicle sector.
"The company will in the future release more diesel engines down the road," the director said.
The Grandeur's engine that sends power to the front wheels has an output of 202 horsepower and 45 kilogram-meters of torque, with a fuel economy figure of a respectable 14 kilometers on a liter of fuel.
The mileage figures place in between the four-cylinder 2.4L gasoline direct injection (GDi) and theta II engine that powers the latest Grandeur sedan and the hybrid version of the same car that uses the multi-point injection (MPI) variant of the 2.4L engine.
The former has 190 ponies under the hood and 24.6 kg-m of twist, while the hybrid is rated at 159 horses and 21 kg-m of torque. The gasoline engine car can travel 11.3 km on a liter of fuel, while mileage for the hybrid using a petrol engine and electric power rises to 16 km.
With the introduction of the Grandeur diesel that is starting to reach consumers in Hyundai's home market, the carmaker plans to continue expanding its model lineup.
Hyundai has diesel engines for minicompacts, compacts and midsized cars, as well as many SUVs.
The diesel Grandeur comes in two trims, the base "Modern" starting at 32.54 million won (US$32,200), with the up-market "Premium" having a price tag of 34.94 million won. In comparison, the gasoline 2.4L engined Grandeur starts at 30.24 million won, with the 3L V6 GDi version starting at 33.61 million won and rising to 38.75 million for the "Exclusive Special".
Industry sources said that by introducing more diesels, the automaker is not only trying to hold onto consumers at home but may be gearing up to tackle European rivals on their home turf or in emerging markets where diesel may be more appealing to drivers.
"Putting a diesel engine in the Grandeur, which is the company's largest front-wheel drive vehicle at present, is a sign that Hyundai may be taking note of European advances in their power plants," a market watcher said.
The introduction of the new sedan, sold as the Azera in the U.S. market, is effectively heating up competition in the diesel sedan segment. Besides the German carmakers, Hyundai's domestic rivals such as GM Korea Co. and Renault Samsung Motors Co. (RSM) have all launched diesel midsize sedans.
Although GM's Chevrolet Malibu and RSM's SM5 Diesel are in a different segment, the latter offers 16.5 km on a liter of fuel, better than the Grandeur, while the Malibu's mileage is 13.3 km.
Hyundai has said that despite the difference in fuel economy, the Grandeur has the most horsepower and torque, which offers a better driving experience.